Building codes and guidelines are always full of exceptions and variations on a theme and the Americans with Disabilities Act is no different. The ADA was first created in 1990. It is designed to protect against discrimination based on disability. The act has five titles or sections. Architects deal primarily with Title III – Public Accommodations. Since passage the ADA guidelines have incorporated information from the model building codes such as the IBC in order to reconcile differences.
In a typical situation an accessible kitchen sink has to have a clear space beneath. This allows a person in a wheelchair to approach the sink and get close enough to effectively use it. Generally, this requires such a person to get their knees under the sink while still having a clear area for their toes.
Most office break rooms consist of countertop and cabinet space, a refrigerator, coffee maker and a toaster oven. In this situation a parallel approach is allowed at the sink. This allows there to be a standard base cabinet under the sink.
What is the difference between a break room and a typical kitchen? Cooktops and ranges. In a space with a kitchen sink but no cooktop or conventional range, a parallel approach is allowed to the sink by section 606.2, exception 1 of the ADA guidelines. It is also important to know that countertops in such spaces must be no higher than 34” and no deeper than 24”