Turning Space Requirements

Posted on - Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Let’s understand the turning space requirements:

A turning space within a room or space is typically depicted by a dashed circle or a dashed “T”. It is an imaginary space that we allocate for turning by a person in a wheelchair. But it can really be located anywhere within that room or space as long as there is adequate room and no obstructions. There are some restrictions for the turning space, and this newsletter will explain them.

Where are turning spaces required?

A turning space is not required in every space. The ADA requires turning spaces in the following spaces:
1) Toilet and bathing rooms

2) Saunas and Steam rooms

3) Dressing, Fitting and Locker rooms

4) Patient rooms in medical care and long term care facilities

5) Kitchens and Kitchennettes

6) Holding cells
7) courtrooms
8) All rooms in a residential dwelling unit served by an accessible route (except if that space is less than 30″ wide or deep)

9) Amusement ride loading zones
10) Fishing piers
11) Play components in the same level (or next to a swing)
12) Shooting facilities

ANSI A117.1 also requires turning space at doors in series

Changes in Level at Turning Spaces

Besides the size of the turning space as shown in the introduction, the ADA also requires that the turning space have a stable firm and slip resistant ground surface, no slope greater than 1:48 and no changes in level are allowed.

304.2 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of a turning space shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted.

EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.

But in the same section, there is an advisory that explain “changes in level”

Advisory 304.2 Floor or Ground Surface Exception.
As used in this section, the phrase “changes in level” refers to surfaces with slopes and to surfaces with abrupt rise exceeding that permitted in Section 303.3.

In other words, if you have a change in level that meets the exact requirements in section 303, but doesn’t exceed them, then it is permitted within the turning space.

Below are the figures which illustrate the two changes in level that are permitted within a turning space.

A change in level that is 1/4″ tall is acceptable in a turning space

A change in level that is 1/2″ tall with a beveled edge is also acceptable

So how does this information get applied? One example is a restroom with a roll-in shower.

Can the turning space be partly inside the shower as shown in the image above? What if the shower had a 1/2″ curb? Then can the turning space be partially inside the shower?

The answer is, yes, if the curb meets the requirements of Figure 303.3.

a collapsable curb can be part of a turning space as long as it collapses to 1/4″ max

Need Barrier Free CEUs?

Online courses:

Green CE On Demand Webinar: “Understanding the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design”

Green CE On Demand webinar “How Accessible is Your work place?”

Green CE On Demand webinar “ADA and Residential Facilities”

AIA U online course: “Applying the ADA on Existing and Altered Buildings”
Green CE “Applying the ADA on Existing and Altered Buildings”

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:
“The ADA Companion Guide” “Applying the ADA” published by Wiley.
book cover

(also available as an e-book)