Requirements for Disabled Toilets

When you have limited to no mobility, a toilet specifically designed to allow easier wheelchair access is a necessity. The requirements for disabled toilets are outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and enforced by the U.S. Justice Department.


The Americans with Disabilities Act requires water closets, a term for toilets, to have a height of 17 to 19 inches measured from the finished floor to the top of the toilet seat. The toilet seats themselves can not be sprang to return to a lifted position. Optional ADA guidelines are provided that offer specifications for toilets designed for children, according to the particular age group that the toilets serve. For ages 3 and 4, the toilet seat height, once again from the finished floor to the top of the toilet seat, should be 11 to 12 inches; for ages 5 through 8, the height should be 12 to 15 inches; and, for ages 9 through 12, the height should be 15 to 17 inches.

Clear Space

Clear floor space guidelines are established that allow either a left-handed or right-handed approach. Clear floor space around the toilet, measuring a minimum 48 inches in width and a minimum of 66 inches in length, must be provided to allow a disabled person to have wheelchair access and to be able to transfer onto the toilet. For a diagonal transfer to the toilet, clear floor space has to be a minimum of 48 inches in width by a minimum of 56 inches in length. For a side transfer to the toilet, the minimum clear floor space is designated to have a minimum of 60 inches in width by a minimum of 56 inches in width.

Grab Bars

Toilets that are not in a stall are required to have a grab bar behind the toilet that has a minimum length of 36 inches. The grab bar should be mounted at a height between 33 and 36 inches. The grab bar must extend a minimum of 12 inches beyond the centre of the toilet toward the side wall and a minimum of 24 inches toward the open side, allowing either a right or left side approach.

Flush Controls

The toilet flush controls must be either automatic or hand operated. If hand operated, the flush control must be operable with only one hand, without requiring tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force needed to activate the control can be no more than 5 pound-force. In addition, the flush control must be mounted on the wide side of toilet areas at a height of no more than 44 inches above the floor.


The toilet paper dispenser must be mounted at a height of at least 19 inches above the floor. The toilet paper dispenser must be within reach from the toilet and also must permit continuous paper flow and must not control delivery.

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About the Author

Christopher John has been a freelance journalist since 2003. He has written for regional newspapers such as "The Metro Forum" and the "West Tennessee Examiner." John has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Memphis State University.