ADA Compliance for Benches

There has been confusion and several misleading recommendations made regarding outdoor benches and compliance with ADA guidelines, specifically compliance with Section 903 of the document ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities, published in the Federal Register July 23rd, 2004 and amended August 5th, 2005 (http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/final.cfm).

After careful research and confirmation from the US Access Board, we have found that there are no ADA requirements as specified in section 903 for outdoor benches, according to the document ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities. Benches should comply with Section 903 (‘Chapter 9: Built-In Elements - Section 903 Benches’) only when they are to be placed in the following facilities, spaces, elements and rooms:

  • Chapter 6: Plumbing Elements and Facilities - 612 Saunas and Steam Rooms
  • Chapter 8: Special Rooms, Spaces and Elements - 803 Dressing, Fitting, and Locker Rooms
  • Chapter 8: Special Rooms, Spaces and Elements - 807 Holding Cells and Housing Cells, 808 Courtrooms

In other words, unless the bench is intended for a sauna, steam room, dressing room, locker room, holding cell or courtroom, it does not need to comply with section 903.

The only outdoor bench-related ADA guidelines are in the United States Access Board Revised Draft Guidelines, Chapter R3: Technical Provisions below:

  • R307.6.3.2 Benches. Where benches without tables are provided at a single location, at least 50 percent, but no fewer than one, shall have a seat height at the front edge of 43 cm (17 in) minimum and 49 cm (19 in) maximum above the ground or floor space.

All Thomas Steele benches meet these requirements.

For further clarification, please contact:
US Access Board
Bill Botten 
202-272-0014
botten@access-board.gov