For people looking to install ADA compliant hand dryers, one of the more confusing issues is the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. This act, enacted in 1990, created a market for recess kits for hand dryers to be installed into an indentation in a wall so that they did not protrude from a wall for more than 4 inches. The act also stipulated that certain facilities (including most places of lodging, recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays, among other things) adapt certain standards to allow people of a variety of disabilities to use these facilities. The protrusion rule (4 inches from the wall) was adopted so that people with sight disabilities would not hit objects on the wall that a cane could not find. Objects that are lower on the wall are allowed to protrude more than 4 inches since a cane would hit them and alert the person.
Most traditional hand dryer models require a recess kit in order to "sink" the hand dryers into the wall. However, a new generation of hand dryers are compliant with ADA without a recess kit. Some of these units are designed to only come 4 inches from the wall. Some of these "slim" designs have been around for quite some time (Nova 1 and Nova 2, or the Bobrick Trimline). Some of them are newer and incorporate improved motors for faster dry times (World Dryer's SLIMdri, Dyson V, and the ASI Turbo-ADA)
Other new hand dryers are made for installation lower on the wall where protrusion is not limited by the 4 inch requirement. These "hands-in" styles are also incorporating HEPA filters, anti-microbial coatings, and improved dry times. These dryers include the Dyson Airblade, World Dryer's VMax, ASI's Tri-Umph, and Palmer Fixture's iStorm.
For those of you looking for the ADA guide, here are the PDF regulations as amended in 2010 (It’s a big document, so be patient). Here’s exactly what the regulation says:
307.2 Protrusion Limits. Objects with leading edges more than 27 inches (685 mm) and not more than 80 inches (2030 mm) above the finish floor or ground shall protrude 4 inches (100 mm) maximum horizontally into the circulation path.