ADA disabled parking standards for employees and customers

| January 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

painted handicap parking symbol

Providing adequate handicap parking for both employees and customers is not only a good business practice, it’s the law (via Sean Leonard Parry on Flickr, licensed with Creative Commons).

Parking is often one of the most visible manifestations of accessibility design in this country. How many parking spaces a business must provide is strictly regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here at, we’ve also learned that parking isn’t just about compliance – it can also be about customer relationships.

One of our most frequently-commented-upon blog posts is about complying with ADA standards in parking lots. Recently one reader asked us about their commercial business in California, which provides accessible parking for its employees in the employee parking lot, and also provides accessible parking spaces at the front entry to their building marked as “Handicapped Customer Parking Only.” However, this created a conflict.

“Our disabled employees continue to take up spaces designated for customers. What can we do without violating the ADA? Adequate handicap parking is available to most or all of our employees, and special accommodations can be arranged, if need be.”

The ADA says that each separate lot or garage has to be compliant with their minimum parking space requirements. So in the question above, our Californian friends have two parking lots; let’s assume they have the minimum required number of accessible spaces. (If they don’t, they have a bigger problem.)

To illustrate how these lots might get used differently, let’s say the employee lot has 20 spaces, and the customer lot has 100 spaces. In the employee lot, the ADA would only require one space to be accessible (and it would have to be a van-accessible spot), while in the customer parking lot, there would be four total spaces (including one that’s van-accessible).

handicap parking visitor sign

Customizing your accessible parking signs can be a good way to subtly remind employees to park in the correct lot (via

As you can see, since the Standards set up proportional minimum requirements, an employer with two disabled employees might want to go above the letter of the law and provide extra spaces in their employee parking lot. Otherwise, with two employees vying for the single employee-designated accessible spot, it’s inevitable that one of them will park out front in the customer parking lot. (Our clue is that the reader says “most or all of our employees.”)

– K. Cavouras

Category: No Parking, Regulations