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Guide to the ADA Standards

Forward Approach and Reach

Clear Floor Space [§309.2]

Clear floor space 48" min. long and 30" min. wide (36" min wide if obstructed on both side more than 24")

Clear floor space for forward approaches must extend up to or, if knee or toe space is provided, below operable parts. This facilitates access since the forward reach does not extend beyond a wheelchair user’s toes.

If clear floor space is obstructed on both sides more than half the minimum required depth, a wider clearance (36” min.) is required for maneuvering and sway.

Knee and Toe Space

If the forward reach to operable parts extends over an obstruction, such as a counter, clearances for toes and knees is required below. The knee and toe space must be at least as deep as the reach depth measured from the leading edge of the obstruction.

Person using wheelchair shown in side view reaching over counter with knee and toe space to operable part; depth of knee and toe space below counter must equal or exceed reach depth above counter.

Forward Reach [§308.2]

The range for unobstructed reaches (15” – 48”) applies only to those portions of elements that are operable. Non-operable portions can be located outside the range.

Unobstructed forward reach range 15" min. to 48" max. shown in side view

Obstructed High Reach

The maximum reach of 48” is reduced to 44” when the depth of reach over an obstruction exceeds 20.” Knee and toe space must extend the full depth of reach.

48" max. reach height above obstruction (counter) if reach depth is 20" max.

44" max. reach height above obstruction (counter) if reach depth is greater than 20" (25" max.)


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