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Jeffrey’s Access Corner

By Jeffrey Dougan

In this edition of Jeffrey’s Access Corner I want to discuss with you a topic that has been brought to my attention a couple of times recently regarding the provision of alternate accessible toilet stalls, specifically when accessible toilets need to be provided and the dimensions and features that are required to be provided. I will be looking at the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act Design Standards (1991 ADADS), the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Design Standards (2010 ADADS), and the 2006 revision of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Boards rules and regulations (2006 MAAB).

Alternate Accessible Toilet Stalls, also known as Ambulatory Accessible Compartments (under the 2010 ADA Design Standards) are required to be provided under different scenarios depending on the regulations that pertain to your situation.

Under the 2006 MAAB and the 1991 ADADS, an alternate stall is required when there are 6 or more stalls within a toilet room.  The 2010 ADADS, while maintaining the requirement for an alternate stall when there are 6 or more stalls within a toilet room, also requires an alternate stall when the combination of the fixtures (urinals and toilets) totals 6 or more.

Here is a narrowly scoped example of what would need to be considered when renovating a restroom and the provision of an alternate stall. As an example, a men’s restrooms is being considered for renovation today. Within the existing restroom there is 1 urinal and 2 toilet compartments. The renovation that is proposed will change this to the provision of 3 urinals and 5 toilet compartments. In this scenario, we would be looking to the 2006 MAAB and the 2010 ADADS as these are the current regulations in effect. While under the 2006 MAAB an alternate stall would not be required as there are only 5 toilet compartments, the 2010 ADADS would require an alternate stall as the number of fixtures (urinals and toilets) equals 8. So, at the end of the renovation project, there would need to be 1 accessible urinal, 1 fully accessible toilet stall, and 1 accessible alternate stall provided, as well as all of the other access requirements not discussed here such as mirror height, sink elements, and dispenser controls, location and heights.

The dimensions and elements for an alternate stall also differ between the codes. To assist with highlighting the differences between the codes, the following can be used for reference. Bold is required under 2006 MAAB and considered the most stringent, non-bold underlined is required under the 2010 ADADS and considered the most stringent, and Italic indicates the two standards are equivalent. The toilet compartment of an accessible stall requires the depth of the toilet stall shall be 66 inches, the width needs to be 36 inches, and the toilet shall be located at 18 inches to the centerline on one side. The door of the alternate stall shall provide a 32 inch clear opening, provide an outward swing, provide an accessible lock, provide door pulls on both sides of the door and provide a coat hook no higher than 48 inches off the floor. Grab bars, like the ones in the standard accessible toilet stalls, need to be provided on both sides of the stall, provide 42 inches in length, be provided at a height of 33–36 inches off the floor, and be located 6 inches out from the back wall. The toilet paper dispenser shall also be located below the grab bar, be located between 7-9 inches in front of the toilet, provide a continuous paper flow, and be no lower than 15 inches to the dispenser outlet off the floor.

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into the requirements for an accessible alternate stall. Please remember that each situation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. As always, if there are any questions related to this topic, please let me know. If you have topics you would like me to write about you can reach me by email at or by phone at (617-727-7440) x27316.

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