No matter where in the country Accessibility Services staff members provide training programs on state and federal accessibility requirements, there are inevitably people in the audience that have a lot of questions about accessible parking. While parking space requirements may seem pretty “clear-cut”, there remains a lot of confusion about compliant design of these spaces with local, state and federal requirements.

Some of the confusion stems from the differences between the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) parking design requirements and those that may be enforced on a local or state level. Many states augment or enhance accessible parking space design requirements to provide greater accessibility for people with disabilities. For example New York State requires that all access aisles are at least 8 feet wide. ADAAG and IBC/ANSI A117.1 only require 8 feet wide access aisles to serve “Van Accessible Spaces”. New York State also requires that signage is provided in each access aisle that says “No Parking Anytime”. There is no requirement for this type of sign at access aisles in ADAAG or IBC/ANSI A117.1.

In addition, a number of ADA lawsuits are filed throughout the country every year that specifically address non-compliant accessible parking spaces. So while this issue may seem trivial to some, simply providing spaces with the International Symbol of Accessibility posted at the space does not protect business or property owners from ADA lawsuits. Non-compliance can become very costly if your place of business is targeted for an ADA lawsuit.

For existing businesses, remember that the US Department of Justice (which enforces ADAAG) mandates that when a parking lot is restriped, it must provide accessible parking spaces as required by ADAAG. In addition, businesses or privately owned facilities that provide goods or services to the public have a continuing ADA obligation to remove barriers to access in existing parking lots when it is readily achievable to do so. Because restriping is relatively inexpensive, it is readily achievable in most cases. So even if no alterations are being performed to a parking lot, the US Department of Justice almost always considers that providing accessible parking spaces in compliance with ADAAG to be “readily achievable” and should be part of the ongoing obligation to remove barriers to access, even if no construction is taking place.

Below is a review of the mandatory design requirements for accessible parking spaces found in ADAAG, 2004 ADAAG and IBC/ANSI A117.1. We have noted those areas where our team observes the most violations of accessible parking requirements:

Number of Spaces Required:

Where parking spaces are provided, accessible parking spaces shall be provided in compliance with the Table below – except for the following special occupancies:

  • Hospital Outpatient Facilities (10% of patient and visitor parking spaces shall be accessible);
  • Rehabilitation Facilities and Outpatient Physical Therapy Facilities (20% of patient and visitor parking spaces provided to serve rehabilitation facilities specializing in treating conditions that affect mobility and outpatient physical therapy facilities shall be accessible);
  • Residential Facilities (IBC requires that 2% of parking spaces for R-2 and R-3 occupancies that have Accessible, Type A or Type B units shall be accessible). 2004 ADAAG requires that where at least one parking space is provided for each residential dwelling unit (required to be accessible), at least one accessible parking space shall be provided for each residential dwelling unit required to provide mobility features.

Where more than one parking facility is provided on a site, the number of accessible spaces provided on the site shall be calculated according to the number of spaces required for each parking facility.

**Note: The number of parking spaces required to be accessible is to be calculated separately for each parking facility (facility means both parking lots and structures); the required number is not to be based on the total number of parking spaces provided in all of the parking facilities provided on the site**

EXCEPTION: Parking spaces used exclusively for buses, trucks, other delivery vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, or vehicular impound shall not be required (to be accessible) provided that lots accessed by the public are provided with an accessible passenger loading zone.

Van Accessible Spaces Number Required:

  • ADAAG requires that 1 in every 8 accessible spaces, but not less than one, should be Van Accessible.
  • IBC and 2004 ADAAG require that 1 of every 6 accessible spaces, but not less than 1, should be Van Accessible.

Dispersion and Location of Spaces:

  • Accessible parking spaces that serve a particular building or facility shall be located on the shortest accessible route from parking to an accessible entrance.
  • Where parking serves more than one accessible entrance, accessible parking spaces shall be dispersed and located on the shortest accessible route to the accessible entrances.
  • In parking facilities that do not serve a particular building or facility, accessible parking spaces shall be located on the shortest accessible route to an accessible pedestrian entrance of the parking facility.
    • EXCEPTIONS: 1. All van parking spaces shall be permitted to be grouped on one level within a multi-story parking facility.
  • Parking spaces shall be permitted to be located in different parking facilities if substantially equivalent or greater accessibility is provided in terms of distance from an accessible entrance or entrances, parking fee, and user convenience.

Width of Accessible Parking Spaces:

  • Car & Van Spaces must be 8 feet minimum in width (ADAAG, 2004 ADAAG & ANSI A117.1)

*2004 ADAAG and ANSI A117.1 permit Van Accessible spaces to be 11 feet wide if they are served by an access aisle that is 5 feet wide minimum.*

Width of Access Aisles:

  • Access aisles serving car accessible parking spaces must be at least 5 feet wide.
  • Access aisles serving Van Accessible spaces must be at least 8 feet wide.

*2004 ADAAG and ANSI A117.1 permit Van Accessible spaces to be designed with either an adjacent 8 feet wide access aisle if the space itself is at least 8 feet wide; OR the Van Accessible spaces can be designed to be a minimum of 11 feet wide and served by a minimum 5 feet wide access aisle.

The 11 feet wide space design is preferred (but not required) by some people with disabilities because this design discourages people from illegally parking in the larger 8 feet wide access aisle – which often happens if all of the accessible parking spaces are occupied, because some people mistakenly assume that the larger access aisle is just another accessible parking space.

In any case, both designs are permitted under ADAAG, 2004 ADAAG and ANSI A117.1 – so once again, van accessible spaces can either be 11 feet wide minimum with a 5 feet wide minimum access aisle OR van accessible spaces may be 8 feet wide minimum with an adjacent 8 feet wide minimum access aisle.

Markings and Location:

  • Access aisles shall be marked so as to discourage parking in them. The method and color of marking are not specified by ANSI A117.1, ADAAG or 2004 ADAAG, but may be addressed by State or local laws or regulations. Sometimes the local/state Motor Vehicle Code may address accessible parking space requirements as well.
  • Where parking spaces are marked with lines, width measurements of parking spaces and access aisles shall be made from the centerline of the markings.
    • EXCEPTION: Where parking spaces or access aisles are not adjacent to another parking space or access aisle, measurements shall be permitted to include the full width of the line defining the parking space or access aisle.
  • 2 parking spaces can always share an access aisle.
  • Access aisles shall not overlap the vehicular way. Access aisles shall be permitted to be placed on either side of the parking space except for angled van parking spaces which shall have access aisles located on the passenger side of the parking spaces

Access aisles shall extend the full length of the accessible parking space they serve. Built-Up curb ramps CANNOT protrude into the access aisle. *Remember, the entire length and width of the access aisle must be level. Structural columns, curb ramps, etc…shall not encroach on the access aisle area.* see photo below:

Floor Surfaces:

  • Parking spaces and access aisles serving them shall be stable, firm and slip resistant. Access aisles shall be at the same level as the parking spaces they serve. Changes in level are not permitted.
    • EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.

*Generally, accessible parking spaces and their associated access aisles cannot slope more than 2% in any direction (slope and cross slope). This is one of the most common violations of accessible parking space design that we come across and this is one of the design features that serves as a “red flag” for ADA lawsuits. When determining where to locate accessible parking spaces, it is important to locate them on the shortest accessible route to the nearest accessible entrance – keeping in mind that the shortest route of travel may not always be the shortest accessible route of travel- depending on the conditions of the site. Keeping in mind that the slope and cross slope of accessible parking spaces and access aisles cannot exceed 2% should also help determine where parking spaces are situated in a lot or facility. (The assumption is that a 2% slope is sufficient to allow for water drainage)

Overhead Clearance:

  • Van Accessible spaces and their associated access aisles, vehicular routes from an entrance to the van spaces and the route to the vehicular exit of the facility, all require at least 98 inches of overhead clearance, hence the allowance to place all of the van accessible spaces on one level of a parking facility.


  • Accessible Parking spaces shall be identified with the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA).
    • One exception to this rule is if the total number of parking spaces provided is 4 or less – in that case the accessible parking space must be provided, but signage is not required to be posted at the space.(2004 ADAAG & IBC)
  • Van Accessible spaces shall have a sign stating “Van Accessible” posted in addition to the ISA.
  • Signs should be mounted so that the ISA and (if provided) and “Van Accessible” signs are at least 60 inches minimum above grade measured to the bottom of the sign (per ANSI A117.1 – ADAAG does not set a height requirement but requires that the sign is visible from a vehicle).

**Many states and/or municipalities have their own specific Penalty Signs that are required to be posted at accessible parking spaces. Ensure that the required local/state penalty signs are provided**

For additional questions about accessible parking requirements, please contact Accessibility Services at 718.803.3782 ext 7504.