ADA Guidelines for Drinking Fountains in America

Guidelines for America:

These are the drinking fountain requirements for ADAAG Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities.

New standards are being issued under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) according updated guidelines previously issued by the Board.  Several different agencies are responsible for updating these standards, and action is still pending in some cases.  This page explains which standards are in effect at this time according to facility type.  Direct links to the standards and related information are included.

Figure 27a
Drinking Fountains and Water Coolers – Spout Height and Knee Clearance

In addition to clearances discussed in the text, the following knee clearance is required underneath the fountain: 27 inches (685 mm) minimum from the floor to the underside of the fountain which extends 8 inches (205 mm) minimum measured from the front edge underneath the fountain back towards the wall; if a minimum 9 inches (230 mm) of toe clearance is provided, a maximum of 6 inches (150 mm) of the 48 inches (1220 mm) of clear floor space required at the fixture may extend into the toe space. (4.15.2, 4.15.5)

Figure 27c
Drinking Fountains and Water Coolers – Free-Standing Fountain or Cooler

4.15 Drinking Fountains and Water Coolers.

4.15.1Minimum Number. Drinking fountains or water coolers required to be accessible by 4.1 shall comply with 4.15.

4.15.2* Spout Height. Spouts shall be no higher than 36 in (915 mm), measured from the floor or ground surfaces to the spout outlet (see Fig. 27(a)). Appendix Note

4.15.3 Spout Location. The spouts of drinking fountains and water coolers shall be at the front of the unit and shall direct the water flow in a trajectory that is parallel or nearly parallel to the front of the unit. The spout shall provide a flow of water at least 4 in (100 mm) high so as to allow the insertion of a cup or glass under the flow of water. On an accessible drinking fountain with a round or oval bowl, the spout must be positioned so the flow of water is within 3 in (75 mm) of the front edge of the fountain.

4.15.4 Controls. Controls shall comply with 4.27.4. Unit controls shall be front mounted or side mounted near the front edge.

4.15.5 Clearances.

(1) Wall- and post-mounted cantilevered units shall have a clear knee space between the bottom of the apron and the floor or ground at least 27 in (685 mm) high, 30 in (760 mm) wide, and 17 in to 19 in (430 mm to 485 mm) deep (see Fig. 27(a) and (b)). Such units shall also have a minimum clear floor space 30 in by 48 in (760 mm by 1220 mm) to allow a person in a wheelchair to approach the unit facing forward.
EXCEPTION: These clearances shall not be required at units used primarily by children ages 12 and younger where clear floor space for a parallel approach complying with 4.2.4 is provided and where the spout is no higher than 30 in (760 mm), measured from the floor or ground surface to the spout outlet.

(2) Free-standing or built-in units not having a clear space under them shall have a clear floor space at least 30 in by 48 in (760 mm by 1220 mm) that allows a person in a wheelchair to make a parallel approach to the unit (see Fig. 27(c) and (d)). This clear floor space shall comply with 4.2.4.


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