The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) sets standards that allow those with disabilities to patronize business establishments. This includes locations with vending machines, which were named in the "Side Reach" section of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, as well as the 1991 Standards. The 2010 Standards require that all operable parts be no higher than 48 inches and no lower than 15 inches. Review coverage of a vending machine compliance session at vendingmarketwatch.com/10705998.
Micro market specific rules
While vending machines are clearly covered, what about micro markets? Are the micro markets that operators have placed in government buildings compliant?
This has already been asked of several experienced operators in the industry. It will undoutedly be asked again as the micro market segment matures. To find out the answer we need to look at the current guidelines.
What ADA guidelines say
Currently, there are no specific standards naming "micro markets" in the most recent ADA specifications. However, there are references to shelving and checkouts areas. A small business document detailing the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design called ADA Update: A Primer For Small Business clearly explains the requirements. It reads that the retail area must allow for wheelchair access, with adequate room to maneuver. This is defined in the primer as a clear path of at least three feet wide.
The checkout area, known in the micro market as the kiosk, must also be accessible. "At least one check-out aisle must be usable by people with mobility disabilities..." indicated the primer. It does not give a specific height or requirement for usability, but most micro market kiosk manufacturers have already started building kiosks to conform with the heights related to other unattended equipment covered under side and front reach requirements.
Shelves may be any height
Currently, there are no standards for the micro market shelves related to ADA compliance. The primer indicates that "...shelves may be of any height since they are not subject to the ADA's reach range requirements." This offers micro market operators quite a bit of flexibility in designing the micro market space.
Standards do change, and the efforts to standardize both the definition of a micro markets and how it is licensed on a state and local level by NAMA could have an impact on ADA standards in the future. These will be topics to watch in coming years. However, as the specifications currently stand, operators can feel confident in presenting the ADA primer documentation to federal and private locations when asked.