Accessible Sales and Service Counters

Thursday, May 2, 2019
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern Time Zone


Counters can pose barriers to people with disabilities in accessing goods and services. This session will cover access to sales and services counters and review applicable requirements in the ADA and ABA Standards. Presenters will illustrate access to various types of counters, including sales counters, check-in counters, and food service counters. They will also address teller and service windows, check-out aisles, self-service shelves, and food and beverage dispensers.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
California Architects Board 1.5
Certificate of Attendance 1.5
ICC 1.5


Bill Botten, Training Coordinator, Senior Accessibility Specialist, Office of Technical and Information Services, U.S. Access Board

Dave Yanchulis, Director of the Office of Technical and Information Services, U.S. Access Board

Questions for presenters:

1 What is the requirement for informational kiosks with an attendant, such as in various areas of airports? Typically there is only verbal interaction but the attendant sits on an elevated chair above a high counter which may or may not have literature for travelers. Can verbal interaction with a person in a wheelchair be done to the side or is at least a portion of the kiosk required to be 36" maximum height?
2 Are "check writing" Counter extensions legal - if so what size should they be and can they fold down when not inuse
3 If the lowered countertop (or upper) projects 6" out beyond the base of the cash wrap millwork, does it create a protruding object?
4 If all users of the upper counter have 11" to sign checks/transactions, can the 36" high transaction counter be 11" deep vs. the "same depth as the sales and service counter" --often ends up being the full 24"-30"depth of the countertop? What is "same depth" vs. "full depth"?
5 Does the electronic key pad need to be located on the lowered counter? Or can it be located on the upper counter? Is it OK to have the electronic key pad on a cord so the sales staff picks up the equipment and hands it down to the customer? (I have also seen long sales counters with the electronic machine located at 1 station but not the accessible station with the countertop interrupted by the cash register millwork--same concept used with the long cord).
6 The base code does not appear to add a qualification for the number, or percentage, of this item that would be required when multiple locations are available - who determines a number/percentage or how is this determined? For example, 3 distinct point of sale locations in a cafeteria setting - with a delivery system that does not provide the sliding tray for the customer. Recognizing that this affects the accessibility issue for both the consumer and the cafeteria worker.
7 Does the free standing "Omelet Counter" at a hotel buffet (where you pick up your custom order) count as a transaction counter at 36" or a food service at 34"? Typically a person is carrying the tray with other breakfast selections from the 34" food service counter.
8 At a service bar in restaurant or pub: Does the bar top have to drop to an accessible height for service at bar, if accessible seating is provided in vicinity?
9 Is a counter with security glazing required to extend the full depth of the counter even when the customer does not have access to the portion of the counter on the employee side of the security glazing?
10 In alterations, where counter equipment would interfere with the 36” long accessible counter surface, would the exception of a 24” long accessible counter surface suffice as compliant? Are there equipment or drawer access considerations from an employee perspective that allow a 24” section to be considered compliant rather than the 36” accessible section?
11 Please explain in detail the two exceptions under 904 and how these exceptions relate to one another. If there is a counter or two counters with a length measuring, a counter greater than 36” in length, can both exceptions be applied to this counter or would only the first exception apply since the counter length is greater than 36”?
12 In new construction, is the edge of the counter that is adjacent to the wheelchair space allowed to be curved such that the wheelchair space is not "in contact" with the entire 36" length of the counter?
13 In new construction, is the wheelchair space to be centered on the 36" lowered portion of the counter as it is in the exception?
14 In an elementary school, what is the recommended or required height of the food service tray counter in cafeterias? Students typically obtain a tray at the start of the counter and slide it down its length, selecting food and drinks as they progress until they reach the cash register at the end of the counter. Are there any other considerations we should be aware of when designing a usable food service counters for disabled students under 12 years of age?
15 Can you address counters in a hospital or medical clinic. Counters both at Patient check-in windows and those deeper in these facilities, such as at nurses stations. Nurse stations may be considered employee work areas, but patients and families often use these counters to ask for information. Does each station need an accessible counter, or do they need to be distributed?

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