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DDA / ADA Compliant Hand Dryers

What does 'DDA or ADA Compliant hand dryers' mean?

It is important to note that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (repelled and replaced by the Equality Act in 2010) applies to the UK (with the former still in place in Northern Ireland) and crucially, does not refer to hand dryer compliance.

On the other hand (and the other side of the pond), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), does. The terms DDA Compliant and ADA Compliant when referring to hand dryers tend to be used interchangeably to refer to a hand dryer that complies with the American legislation stating that hand dryer projection from the wall no more than 4 inches (100mm).

There is though an allowance for hand dryers with a greater projection as long as they are mounted at or below 27” so as to coincide with the cane detection range , see below.

What types of hand dryers are DDA compliant?

It would then be compliant to install a hands-in dryer – such as Dyson Airblade dB, Veltia TriBlade or Aertek EcoBlade since they would be detectable by a visually impaired person using a cane. The caveat here though is that they must not restrict the movement within the washroom or any accessibly route.

It may also be worth considering the mounting height of these further, or more specifically, the hand entry height. Someone in a wheelchair may not find it as easy to place their hands down into the dryer from a sitting position as someone standing.

Further point of consideration is for those using walking aids. It may be more practical to place one hand at a time into or under a dryer to dry using a blade of air rather than having to stand unaided to rub their hands together under a stream of air.


Although the UK Act does not apply to hand dryers, it is good practice to comply with this.

Recessed hand dryers

Most hand dryers can be made DDA/ADA compliant by recessing them into the wall, but this can be expensive and may be impossible depending on the type and depth of wall.

Most popular recessed hand dryers:

Xlerator with recess kit

Aertek AirJet Recessed

Lovair AirFury Recessed

Considering visual impairment.

The visual impact of the dryer should also be considered. It may not be possible for those who are visually impaired to see where the hand dryer is, if for example it is a white hand dryer on a white wall. Different approaches can be taken when choosing a hand dryer. Many hand dryers are available in some bold and striking colours which can add a modern touch to a washroom and be very easily seen with contrasting colours. A splashback can also be added, either in a contrasting colour or with a bespoke design.

See Splashbacks

As more facilities recognize the sustainability pitfalls of paper towels and transition to hand dryers, it is inevitable that there will be a greater interest in these dryers and consideration for the environments in which they can be used.


From the hand dryer manufacturers

Mounting height and protrusion are the most important factors. The key dimension to achieve ADA compliance is the depth of the hand dryer from the wall. It must protrude no more than 4” (10 cm). 
Many dryers are unable to be ADA compliant due to bulky motors that cause them to protrude too far from the wall. As a result, they are often recessed into the wall, which can be costly.
– Rob Green, Senior Reliability Engineer, Dyson in Chicago

Dyson Airblade DDA compliant How a Dyson Airblade AB14 is DDA compliant
DDA Compliant Dyson Airblade AB14 Dyson Airblade AB14 recommended mounting heights for use by wheelchair users.

Most dryers are ADA compliant when installed properly. Facility managers should also make sure the manufacturer offers ADA accessories that help achieve ADA compliance.  For example, a wall guard reduces the water moisture on the walls and floor and achieves ADA compliance. There are also recess kits that reduces the protrusion of the dryer to less than four inches.
– Jim Fisher, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, American Dryer, Inc. in Livonia, Michigan



Key Points:

  • Hand dryers are generally regarded as DDA/ADA compliant when projection from wall is less than 100mm (4”)
  • Hand dryers can project more than this if they are detectable by a cane, i.e. mounted at or below 27”
  • Consider how usable they will be for users in wheelchairs or with walking aids
  • Consider the space restriction any wall mounted objects may induce
  • Consider the visual appearance and contrast of the hand dryer for visually impaired users.

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