Business Owners' Guide to Handicapped Parking Regulations
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law requiring business owners to comply with regulations on disabled parking, among other things. If you own, operate or lease to a business that serves the public, you must comply with the ADA, and have obligations for existing facilities as well as new construction. The ADA requirements went into effect in 1992, so regulations for facilities built before 1993 are less strict than for ones built after early 1993 or modified after early 1992.
If your business has parking for the public, it must have disabled-accessible parking spaces, if doing so is "readily achievable," according to the ADA. The number of disabled parking spaces the ADA requires depends on the number of parking spaces in your parking lot or garage. For a lot of one to 25 spaces, you need one disabled space. For 26 to 50 spaces, you need two disabled spaces. For 51 to 75 spaces, you need three; 76 to 100 spaces, four; 101 to 150 spaces, five; 151 to 200 spaces, six; 201 to 300 spaces, seven; 301 to 400 spaces, eight; and 401 to 500 spaces, nine. For 501 to 1,000 spaces, ADA requires 2 percent of the total number of spaces to be disabled spaces. For a parking lot of 1,001 and more, you need 20 spaces plus one space for each 100 over 1,000.
The parking spaces must be 8 feet wide. The parking spaces must have space for the vehicle plus space to the right or left that serves as an access aisle. The aisle allows a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter or other device to get out of a car or van. For cars, the access aisle must be at least 5 feet wide and be as long as the parking space itself.
When you measure for the spaces, include the entire width of the paint line that will separate the spaces if the space isn't next to another space or an access aisle. If the disabled space is next to another space or an access aisle, measure from the center of the line.
The parking spaces should be the spaces closest to your business's entrance and should be on level ground. If the spaces closest to the entrance are sloped or otherwise difficult in their terrain, choose the closest level area. The route to the entrance should have no steps or steep surfaces and must be stable, firm and slip resistant.
One of eight of all disabled parking spaces, and at least one, must be van accessible. Van-accessible spaces must also have an access aisle that is at least 5 feet wide. There should be a vertical clearance of at least 98 inches all the way to the space, at the parking space and all along the way to an exit.
You must put a sign with the international symbol of accessibility, highly recognizable with its blue background and white figure in wheelchair, in front of the parking space, placed high enough so it's not hidden by a vehicle in the space. Van-accessible spaces must be designated with a sign with the international symbol and "van accessible." Business owners can buy the signs online or at business supply stores.
Business owners with technical questions about ADA compliance should call the U.S. Access Board at 800-872-2253 or visit its website. For more basic questions about ADA compliance, business owners can call the Justice Department's ADA Information Line, at 800-514-0301.