In 1990, President Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Act stipulated that no individual be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the public facilities and work places, including most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays, among other things. Do these regulations apply to you and what do they mean with regards to your hand dryer choice?
We at NetDryers are not lawyers. So we will try to put this into layman’s terms, but if you are at all concerned about this topic, please seek counsel. Under the act, new construction (or renovations) receive a higher standard to meet than existing facilities where it may be cost-prohibitive or have historical issues. Big companies and organizations are held to a higher standard than small businesses. Also, some states (like California) have added their own higher level of standards. Of course, not every bathroom (or even public bathroom) meets these standards, so again, if you are not sure, seek counsel.
How does ADA apply to hand dryers? For those of you looking for the guide, here is the PDF regulations as amended in 2010 (It’s a big document, so be patient). There are not any specific references to hand dryers in the regulations that we have discovered, but there are regulations pertaining to turning radius and (for wheelchairs to have enough room) and objects that protrude from the wall. For most bathrooms, to meet ADA, objects may not protrude more than 4 inches from the wall if their “leading edge” (the bottom of the unit) is below 27 inches from the ground or (the top of the unit) is more then 80 inches from the ground. 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.
This is primarily to protect sight-impaired people who can not find the object with a cane. This is why there is a strong market for recessed kits. These kits “recess” the dryer into the wall so that it only protrudes the 4 inches. Other good choices include SLIMdri from World Dryer (it is naturally flat and stays below the 4 inch requirement) or the hands-in style hand dryers (like Dyson Airblade or Veltia) which are allowed to protrude more than 4 inches because they are lower on the wall (below the 27 inches) and thus can be discovered by the cane. Dyson has a nice description of this on page 4 of their technical spec sheet.