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The Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) rulemaking has concluded. The PROWAG final rule has been published in the Federal Register. Please visit the Access Board’s PROWAG page for the guidelines.

Guide to the ABA Accessibility Standards


This guide provides an introduction to the scoping requirements of the ABA Standards and is intended to be used with a complete copy of the ABA Standards since it does not contain or address the full content of the Standards. It is important that users familiarize themselves with the specific scoping requirements contained in the ABA Standards.

Scoping Requirements

Diagram – circle labeled “Chapter 2” pointing circles representing Chapters 3 - 10

Requirements in Chapter F2 indicate which elements and spaces must be accessible on a site or in a facility (the scope of coverage). These “scoping” requirements apply technical provisions in Chapters 3 – 10 to those covered elements and spaces provided on a site.

Applicable building codes, design practices, and other factors determine the elements and spaces required for a site, including parking, means of egress, and plumbing fixtures. The ABA Standards, on the other hand, specify the elements and spaces provided that must be accessible.



The ABA Standards apply to the various types of federally funded facilities subject to the ABA, from simple structures to complex, multi-facility sites. Requirements in the standards apply to both exterior and interior spaces and elements provided on a site, usually without distinction. Provisions for parking, for example, apply equally to exterior lots and to parking garages. The standards cover permanent facilities and temporary facilities (other than those used in construction), such as reviewing stands, stages, portable toilets, and temporary classrooms.

In new construction, all areas must be fully accessible, including multiple spaces of the same type, unless otherwise specified. Areas not required to be fully accessible include:

  • certain limited-use or raised spaces that are exempt (§F203)
  • spaces covered by scoping provisions that require only a specified portion of the total number to comply, such as dressing rooms and patient bedrooms (various provisions in Chapter 2)

General Exceptions


These structures and spaces are fully exempt from the standards and are not required to be accessible or on an accessible route:

Cover of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)
Existing Elements (§F203.2) In existing facilities, alterations, additions, or leasing actions may require retrofit of existing elements. Existing elements that meet an earlier ABA standard, such as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards do not have to be retrofitted to meet the current standards unless they are altered. Examples: Existing restrooms, drinking fountains, and telephones in additions or that are part of an accessible path of travel to altered primary function areas do not have to be upgraded to meet the current standards if they comply with a previous ABA standard"
construction barrier
Construction Sites (§F203.3) Structures directly associated with the actual processes of construction and portable toilets used only by construction workers Examples: scaffolding, bridging, materials hoists, construction trailers
Areas Raised for Security/ Safety (§F203.4) Areas raised primarily for purposes of security or life/ fire safety Examples: life guard stands, fire towers, and prison guard towers
structure with ladder
Limited Access Spaces (§F203.5) Spaces accessed only by ladders, catwalks, crawl spaces, or very narrow passageways Examples: lighting/ equipment catwalks at stages and performing areas, platforms served only by ladder
Machinery Spaces (§F203.6) Spaces used only by service personnel for maintenance, repair, or occasional monitoring of equipment Examples: elevator pits/ penthouses, mechanical/ electrical/ communications equipment rooms, water or sewage treatment pump rooms, electric substations, and transformer vaults
toll booth
Single Occupant Structures (§F203.7) Single occupant structures accessed only by below-grade passageways or elevated above standard curb height Examples: toll booths that are accessed by underground tunnels or elevated above curb height, such as those serving dedicated truck lanes

Detention/Correctional and Residential Facilities (§F203.8 - §F203.9)

jail cell and house

Common use spaces in detention/ correctional facilities or residential facilities that do not serve accessible cells or dwelling units are exempt.

Certain Sports/ Recreation and Other Structures (§F203.10 - §F203.14)

boxing ring

These structures and spaces are also exempt:

  • raised structures used solely for refereeing, judging, or scoring a sport
  • raised boxing/ wrestling rings
  • water slides and raised diving boards/ platforms
  • animal containment areas not open to the public

Scoping Requirements


Scoping provisions for elements and spaces, which are summarized here, are further discussed with relevant technical provisions in the following chapters of this guide.

Site Arrival Points, Entrances, and Egress

Figure of entrance at a U.S. post office with accessible parking spaces and accessible routes shown extending from entrance to access aisle at parking spaces and continuing down front sidewalk.  Figure notes:   Entrances (§F206.4) At least 60% of all public entrances must be accessible, in addition to entrances serving parking structures, tunnels or elevated walkways, tenant spaces, or those entrances that are restricted. Accessible Routes (§F206) An accessible route to accessible entrances is required from public streets and sidewalks (unless site arrival is by vehicle only), parking, passenger loading zones, and transportation stops provided within the boundary of the site. Accessible Means of Egress (§F207) Accessible means of egress must be provided as required by the International Building Code (2000 edition with 2001 supplement or 2003 edition). Parking (§F208) The minimum number of accessible spaces is based on the total number of spaces provided in each parking lot or garage.  At least 1 of every 6 accessible spaces must be van accessible. Passenger Loading Zones and Bus Stops (§F209) Where passenger loading zones are provided, an accessible loading zone is required in every continuous 100 linear feet or fraction thereof.  Bus stops and bus loading zones for designated or specified public transportation, where provided, must meet requirements for bus boarding and alighting areas.

General Elements

Most scoping provisions apply to both interior and exterior elements where provided throughout facilities and sites (and are not limited to those in corridors as shown here).

Figure of corridor with a door, elevator, light sconce (protruding object), outlet and fire extinguisher cabinet (operable parts).  Figure notes:  Accessible Routes (§F206) and Doors (§F206.5) An accessible route must connect all accessible spaces and elements in a facility, and doors on accessible routes must comply Protruding Objects (§F204) Objects on all circulation paths (not just accessible routes) must be installed so that they do not pose hazards to people with vision impairments. Operable Parts (§F205) Controls, outlets, receptacles, and other operable parts are covered (excluding those used only by maintenance personnel or serving a dedicated use)..  Elevators (§F206.6)  Vertical access between stories is required in multi-story facilities with few exceptions. Stairways (§F210) All stairs that are part of a required means of egress must comply. Windows (§F229) If windows are provided in accessible spaces for operation by occupants, at least 1 must comply.  Each window that is required to be operable by a local code or authority also must comply.  These requirements do not apply to residential facilities.

Communication Elements

Figure of corridor with overhead sign (“East Wing Rooms 300 – 350”), sign at door, fire alarm, and pay telephone.  Figure notes:   Fire Alarm Systems (§F215) Fire alarms, if provided, must comply with the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) which covers audible and visual features.   Signs (§F216) Directional and informational signs, where provided, must meet requirements for visual access, and signs identifying permanent spaces, room numbers/ names, floor levels, and exits must also have raised characters and braille. The International Symbol of Accessibility is used to identify accessible entrances, restrooms, and bathing facilities (unless all are accessible), as well as to label accessible parking spaces, and check-out aisles.  Symbols are also specified for signs indicating assistive listening systems and TTYs.   Telephones (§F217) All public telephones must have volume control and wheelchair access is required to at least 1 public phone of each type (e.g., pay, closed circuit, courtesy, etc.) provided on a floor/level or exterior site (or at each bank if more than 1 bank is provided on a floor). TTYs are required based on the number of pay telephones provided. Assistive Listening Systems (§F219) Assistive listening systems for people who are hard of hearing are required in all assembly areas equipped with audio amplification and all courtrooms.  Two-way Communication Systems (§F230) Two-way communication systems provided to gain admittance to buildings must be accessible and have audible and visual signals. Transient Lodging (§F224) and Dwelling Units (§F233)  A specified portion of transient lodging guest rooms and dwelling units must be equipped with accessible communication features, such as visual devices for door bells and visible alarms.

Plumbing Elements and Facilities

Figure of entrances to a women’s room and men’s room with a dual bowl drinking fountain in between.  Figure notes:   Drinking Fountains (§F211) Half the units provided on floors and exterior sites must be wheelchair accessible and the other half accessible to standees (dual access must be provided where 1 unit is planned on a floor or exterior site). Toilet and Bathing Facilities (§F213) All toilet and bathing facilities provided must be accessible, except portable units (5% minimum) and single user toilet rooms clustered at one location (no more than 50% for each use are required to comply).   If multi-user toilet or bathing facilities are provided, accessible unisex facilities cannot substitute for access to multi-user rooms (except in certain alterations where compliance is technically infeasible).     Kitchens, Kitchenettes, and Sinks (§F212) Kitchens, kitchenettes, and sinks must comply.  Access is required to at least 5% of each type of sink in accessible rooms or spaces but no fewer than 1 (except those in work areas used only by employees for work purposes).   Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers (§F214) At least 2 washing machines must comply if more than 3 are provided, and at least 1 washing machine must comply if 3 or fewer are provided.  This level of access is also required for clothes dryers.

Sales and Service Elements

Figure of customer service lobby of “U.S. Interior Department Credit Union” with teller windows, work surface (desk), and ATM with self-service shelving.  Figure notes: Sales and Service Counters (§F227.3) Access is required to at least 1 of each type of sales and service counter provided.  If counters are dispersed throughout a facility, accessible counters must also be dispersed. ATMs and Fare Machines (§F220) At least one of each type at each location must comply. Work Surfaces (§F226) At least 5% of work surfaces are required to comply.  Self-Service Shelving (§F225.2) Self-service shelves in stores, banks, post offices, libraries and other facilities must be on an accessible route.  Check-out aisles (§F227.2) A minimum number of check-out aisles of each type must comply based on the total provided and must be dispersed where check-out aisles are dispersed throughout a facility. Fuel Dispensers, Vending Machines, Change Machines, Depositories (§F228) Access is required to at least 1 of each type of dispenser, machine, or depository provided that is fixed or built-in. Mail Boxes (§F228.2) At least 5% of mail boxes provided in an interior location of non-residential facilities must be accessible.  In residential facilities, if mail boxes are provided for each dwelling unit, mail boxes serving mobility accessible units must comply. Dining Surfaces (§226) and Food Service Lines (§F227.4) At least 5% of seating and standing spaces at fixed or built-in dining surfaces are required to be accessible.  Food service lines, where provided, must comply and at least 50% of self-service shelves are required to be within accessible reach range.

Specific Spaces and Occupancies

The ABA Standards include scoping requirements specific to certain types of spaces and facilities that apply based on the intended use and design. Spaces with multiple uses must meet all applicable requirements for each use. Scoping provisions for specific spaces and occupancies address:

Transportation Facilities [§F218] and Bus Stops [§F209]
Assembly Areas [§F221]
Dressing, Fitting, and Locker Rooms [§F222]
medical symbol
Medical Care and Long-Term Care Facilities [§F223]
Transient Lodging Guest Rooms [§F224]*
Storage [§F225]
Judicial Facilities [§F231]
jail cell door
Detention and Correctional Facilities [§F232]
Residential Facilities [§F233]
Recreation Facilities and Outdoor Developed Areas [§F234 – §F248]

Common Questions

question mark

Are all public use and common use areas required to be accessible?

All areas of facilities are required to be fully accessible in new construction except those that are specifically exempt (e.g., certain types of limited use or raised spaces) or that are covered by provisions that require only a specified portion to comply (e.g., transient lodging guest rooms and patient bedrooms). All other rooms and spaces, including multiple ones of the same type, such as patient exam rooms, classrooms, and courtrooms, are required to be accessible.

Are employee work areas required to be accessible?

Yes, the ABA Standards apply fully to employee work areas (unlike the ADA standards which have more limited requirements for such spaces). Elements used by employees in work areas, including work surfaces, must comply. Spaces used by employees for purposes other than work, including restrooms, break rooms, locker rooms, lounges, and parking are also fully covered.

Can access be provided after construction based on need?

Access required by the ABA Standards must be put in place and ready for use as part of construction. This is required in all but a few specified instances, such as:

  • Toilet and bathrooms in residential dwelling units or accessed through an individual’s private office for his or her exclusive use are not required to be built with certain specifically enumerated access features, such as grab bars and lavatory clearances, if they are built according to criteria that will facilitate later installation or adaptation, such as reinforcement for grab bars and removable vanity cabinets.
  • Vertical access to work stations in courtrooms, such as judges’ benches, can be provided after construction if space and other requirements are met to ease later installation of necessary ramps or lifts.

Technical Assistance

Contact the Access Board for guidance on these standards