2 Big Ways “Universal Height” & “ADA Compliant” Differ

When browsing integrated toilets or TOTO WASHLET+ systems, you’ll inevitably come across terms like “universal height” and “ADA compliant”. These describe the toilet’s dimensions and design, and many customers want to know if there’s a difference between the two.

The short answer: sometimes! Put differently, all ADA compliant toilets are a universal height, but not all universal height toilets are ADA compliant. Confused? Keep reading, and we’ll explain exactly what’s up with these two terms!

What is “Universal Height”?

Universal Height refers to a toilet or integrated unit’s seated height as measured from the floor to the top of the seat. While most universal height toilets are between 17″-19″, some companies, like TOTO, use the term to describe any toilet with a seated height of 16.5″ or taller. In comparison, a standard height toilet is between 15 and 17″ tall.

In general, it’s easier to sit down on and stand up from a taller toilet seat than a lower toilet seat. This makes universal height units a good option if you have mobility limitations, knee problems, or other conditions that make it tricky to sit down or stand back up. If you have questions about the exact seated height of a specific toilet, you can always check the toilet’s spec sheet or reach out to us for assistance.

Shop Bidets with a Seated Height Between 17″ and 19″ (Universal Height)

What Does “ADA Compliant” Mean?

ADA Compliance means that a toilet or integrated unit meets the Standards for Accessible Design set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA compliant toilets must have a minimum seated height of 17″, but that’s not all! To qualify as ADA compliant, a toilet must also have a specific type of flush mechanism.

The Standards for Accessible Design state that flush mechanisms can be automatic or operated by hand. However, manually operated flush mechanisms must be located on the side of the toilet tank. Furthermore, the toilet must be installed so that the flush mechanism is on the side of the toilet that is open to the rest of the bathroom.

ADA Compliance Guidelines
ADA Compliant Guidelines
2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design – Department of Justice

What Makes “Universal Height” and “ADA Compliant” Different?

There are two big reasons why “universal height” is different from “ADA compliant”:

  1. The height requirement for “universal height” (16.5″) is lower than the height requirement for ADA compliance (17″). This means that a 16.5″ tall toilet can be called “universal height”, but it won’t be ADA compliant.
  2. Some toilets are tall enough to be both universal height and ADA compliant, but their flush mechanism disqualifies them from truly being ADA compliant. ADA compliant toilets must have an automatic flush or a manual flush that’s on the side of the tank open to the rest of the bathroom. Thus, toilets with a push button on top of the tank aren’t ADA compliant unless they also come with auto flushing capabilities.

In a nutshell, ADA compliance guidelines are more stringent and detailed than Universal height guidelines. For this reason, all ADA compliant toilets are a Universal Height, but not all Universal Height toilets are ADA compliant.

Contact Us

We try to clearly specify in the “Key Features” section of each of our product listings whether that item is ADA compliant and/or universal height. However, if you’re ever confused or unclear, please reach out to us! We want you to end up with a toilet and bidet that meets all of your needs!

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