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Guide to the ADA Standards

Side Approach and Reach

Clear Floor Space [§309.2]

Clear floor space can be oriented for a side approach instead of a forward approach at most operable parts. Nominal centering of the space on operable portions of elements is advisable, but not required (except at washers and dryers).

Person using wheelchair positioned for side reach to wall-mounted phone

Clear Floor Space

Additional clearance is required if the space is obstructed on three sides for more than half the depth to allow easier maneuvering into the space.

Clear floor space for side reach 30" min. wide and 48" min. long (60" min. long if obstructed on both side more than 15")

Side Reach [§308.3]

The range for side reach, like forward reach is 15” to 48” if unobstructed. The maximum reach depth for this range is 10” measured from the available clear floor space.

Side reach 15" min. to 48" max. shown in elevation

Fuel Dispensers

fuel dispenser icon

The operable parts of fuel dispensers located on existing curbs can be up to 54” high.

Obstructed High Reach

The maximum high reach is reduced to 46” when the reach over an obstruction is deeper than 10” (to a maximum of 24”). Obstructions at side reaches are limited to a height of 34”.

Side reach height 48" max. above obstruction 34" max. high if reach depth 10" max.

Side reach 46" max. if reach depth over obstruction 34" max. high if reach depth greater than 10" (24" max.)

Side Reach Radius

Elements located in corners can be difficult to reach from a side approach.

design compass

Recommendation: Where a side reach is provided, locate elements away from corners in consideration of the typical reach radius.


Person using wheelchair in corner (back to side wall) with reach radius over counter extending to approximately 12" of side wall.

Person using wheelchair in corner (facing side wall) with 24" reach radius extending from center point of wheelchair space (does not extend fully to corner)

Advisory Reach Range for Children

The standards include advisory (non-mandatory) reach ranges based on children’s dimensions that can be followed when operable parts are designed for use by children. This guidance provides reach ranges recommended according to three age groups.

Children's reach ranges: 16" - 44" (9-12 years); 18" - 40" (5-8 years); 20" - 36" (3 & 4 years)


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