Get new vending  locations

Equal Access Means Great Taste: ADA Compliant Vending Machines

Is there such a thing as ADA-compliant vending machines? Moreover, what to do to ensure accessibility for all?


Since 1990, businesses across America have been required to comply with the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA guidelines were put into place by both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The guidelines can be enforced in both private and public entities that provide a service to the public. Below, we’ll evaluate whether or not ADA compliance is a necessity for your vending machine business and investigate what ADA vending machines look like.

Do Your Vending Machines Have to Be ADA Compliant?

Federal ADA regulations do not apply to all vending machine operators. Luckily, it is not very difficult to determine whether a vending machine is exempt from these accessibility standards or not. Any existing vending machines that are fixed in place (bolted to the floor or wall of the building, for example) must comply with ADA regulations. If vending machines do not comply, they will face significant penalties and the individual with the disability may be awarded monetary damages.

If vending machine equipment is not fixed in place in any way, it does not fall under the ADA’s authority regarding public accommodations. Under these circumstances, vending machine owners will not have to ensure their vending machine is ADA compliant, meaning it's accessible to people with disabilities.

This ADA compliant criterion is applicable no matter where vending machines are located. They apply to all public locations such as hospitals, schools, airports, restaurants, bars, retail spaces, hotels, banks, malls, and more. If a vending owner has multiple vending machines in one location, they must meet the standards for one machine of each type (snack, drink, food, and coffee).  

Safe harbor rules do apply in regard to ADA compliance, though. Existing vending machines do not need to meet ADA standards for accessibility unless the building is changed or the vending machine is upgraded or moved.

What Are Federal Regulations for ADA-Compliant Vending Machines?

a federal institution with an american flag signaling regulations for ADA compliance

Once you’ve determined whether or not your vending machines need to meet the guidelines for ADA compliance, you need to understand what those guidelines are. Although ADA regulations apply to all types of disabilities, the regulations that relate to vending machines are mostly focused on accessibility for individuals in wheelchairs. ADA-compliant vending machines will meet two conditions: accessible vending machine height and reach range.

What Is ADA Height for Vending Machines?

The first thing a vending owner needs to check for ADA compliance is the height of the vending machine’s operation-related components. This includes the item selection buttons, the coin slot/payment reader(s), and the box where the item is delivered to the customer.
In order to be ADA compliant, all of these components must be no lower than 15” from the lower and no higher than 48” from the floor.

What Is ADA Accessible Range?

The ADA’s accessible range refers to two things. First, the usable components of a vending machine must be within 15-48 inches from the floor to accommodate a person’s vertical reach from a wheelchair, as explained above. Second, an individual in a wheelchair must be able to maneuver within 10” of the vending machine to ensure they are close enough to reach the controls and retrieve their snack or beverage.

Is It the Manufacturer’s or Operator’s Responsibility to Ensure Compliance?

Many vending machine owners question whether it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with ADA guidelines or whether the burden falls on the vending machine manufacturer. Since the install type is what determines the need for ADA compliance (secured versus free-standing), manufacturers are not required to ensure ADA compliance.

Vending machine owners must take a look at the dimensions and design of their vending machine if they intend on bolting it in place, as they are the ones that will be penalized if they fail to comply with ADA regulations.

Final Thoughts

Whether your vending machines are located in a public or private entity, it must meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines even if it was not originally manufactured with those standards in mind. This is to ensure the vending machine is accessible to both employees of the location and members of the general public if they have a disability. Not only does ADA compliance increase the number of people that can use the vending machine and improve profitability, but it promotes a great reputation for the vending owner and ensures equal access for all members of the public.

Keep delving into the related Vending Machine topics:

Learn more about vending with our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter today and get the inside scoop on how to succeed as a vending machine company owner.

Subscribe To Newsletter

Ready to get new locations?

Take your vending machine business to the next level by finding the perfect locations for placement. Our comprehensive research and placement suggestions make it easy to identify and secure new locations, so you can start increasing your revenue and expanding your business.

List of 250+ places where you can potentially place your vending machine

Includes business name, phone number and address of each location

Human quality researched list

All locations tailored to your zip code area

If the location has a listed email, we will provide it.

3 day delivery

25 mile radius search