Under the Design of Public Spaces Standard of the AODA, cities and other organizations building or redeveloping service-related elements, such as counters and waiting areas, must make those areas accessible to customers or patrons with disabilities. Accessible service-related elements include:
- Waiting areas with fixed seating
- Fixed-queuing guides
- Service counters
Organizations must make both indoor and outdoor elements accessible.
Accessible Service Requirements
Fixed Waiting Areas
Fixed waiting areas are groups of seats attached to the floor or ground where people must wait. Three percent of accessible seating must be space where people using mobility devices can wait. Every waiting area must have at least one accessible space. Furthermore, the accessible space must be in the same location as the non-accessible seating so that all people wait together.
Fixed-queuing guides are areas where people are expected to line up. The boundaries of the areas are marked by rope or other material attached to the floor or ground. These areas must be wide enough for people using mobility devices to go through the lines. Likewise, the areas must be wide enough so that the same people can turn when the lines do. Finally, the guides showing the areas’ boundaries must be detectable for people using white canes.
Organizations use service counters for different kinds of service, such as:
- Regular check-out (with someone behind the counter)
- Express check-out
- Self-service check-out
At least one counter for every service offered must be accessible. For example, a store with multiple regular check-outs and multiple self-service check-outs must have at least one accessible regular check-out and at least one accessible self-service check-out. Moreover, if an organization uses one line for multiple counters, all the counters people reach through that line must be accessible. In contrast, organizations that use one line per counter must put up signs that indicate which counters are accessible, so that people will know which lines they must use. Furthermore, paths leading to accessible counters must provide enough space for people using mobility devices to travel forward toward the counters, instead of having to approach them without facing them.
Additional requirements differ according to the tasks people perform at the counters. Counters built for people to perform tasks in front of them, such as signing, using a point-of-sale device, or viewing merchandise, must have knee and toe clearance so that people using mobility devices can sit comfortably at the counters. In contrast, counters where people do not perform such tasks do not need knee or toe clearance. However, all counters must be at an appropriate height for a seated person to access.
Why Do We Need Accessible Service-Related Elements?
Fixed waiting areas, fixed queuing lines, and accessible service counters are central parts of service. When these elements are not accessible, people cannot do every-day activities like shopping, banking, ordering fast-food, or renewing ID. Accessible service-related elements ensure that all people can reach the services they need.