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Parking for Persons with Disabilities
(Accessible Parking)

In places where parking is provided to the public, requirements for providing parking spaces for persons with disabilities (also called "accessible parking" and previously called "handicapped parking") are established by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, Iowa Code Chapter 321L, and administrative rules adopted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety (661 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 18).

With one significant exception, Iowa requirements for providing accessible parking follow federal requirements. The exception is that Iowa law requires that at least one accessible space when a parking lot has at least 10 total spaces, while the federal Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines require that an accessible parking space be provided if there is even a single parking spaces available for public use.


Related Areas of Regulation

  • Display Devices for Parking in Accessible Parking Spaces Are Issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Requirements for Accessibility to Persons with Disabilities of Buildings and Facilities Are Provided in the State Building Code

The Department of Public Safety receives many inquiries regarding parking for persons with disabilities. Many of the inquiries which are received most frequently are reflected in the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) area is provided. Please check this area first to see if your question is answered here before contacting the department.

FAQ - Parking for Persons with Disabilities
  1. What laws govern the provisions of parking spaces for persons with disabilities?
  2. What signs or marking are required to designate a parking space for persons with disabilties?
  3. What does "available to the public mean?"
  4. How many parking spaces for persions with disabiltiies are required in a parking lot or structure available to the public?
  5. How wide does a parking space for persons with disabilities need to be?
  6. If I have an identification device or license plate which authorizes me to park in a parking space for persons with disabilities, may I park in the access aisle of a van accessible space?
  7. Are owners of apartment buildings required to provide parking spaces for persons with disabilities?
  8. Are employers required to provide parking spaces for persons with disabilities for their employees?
  9. Is a business required to provide parking spaces for disabilities for its customers?
  10. May I use a parking space for persons with disabilities if I have an identification device or license plate allowing me to use these spaces issued by another state?
  11. How do I get an identification device or license plate allowing me to park in spaces for persons with disabilities?

1. What laws govern the provision of parking spaces for persons with disabilities?

Both federal and state law establish requirements for providing parking spaces for persons with disabilities. Where parking is available to the general public, Iowa Code Chapter 321L and 661 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 18 govern provision of parking spaces for person with disabilities. The federal Americans with Disability Act and associated regulations, the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design are federal laws which regulate parking for persons with disabilities.

2. What signs or marking are required to designate a parking space for persons with disabilties?

Designation of parking spaces for persons with disabiltiies in parking lots and structures available to the public is addressed in the administrative rules of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Each parking space for persons with disabilties is required to be designated with its own separate sign. Each sign is required to include the universal symbol of accessibility in white on a blue background. The rule does not specify other language which may be on the sign, except that it does say that, if the amount of the fine for using the space illegally is included on the sign, the amount must be stated accurately. The rule also states that it is permissible to mark the surface of the parking space with the international symbol of accessibility, but doing so is not sufficient to designate a parking space for persons with disabilities. That is, A PARKING SPACE WITH THE UNIVERSAL SYMBOL OF ACCESSIBILITY PAINTED ON THE PAVEMENT (OR OTHER PAVEMENT MARKING, SUCH AS THE WORDS "PARKING RESERVED FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILTIIES") IS NOT LEGALLY DESIGNATED AS A PARKING SPACE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES UNLESS THE SPACE IS ALSO DESIGNATED WITH THE REQUIRED SIGN.

A sign designating a parking space for persons with disabilties is required to be placed so that the bottom of the sign is no less than five feet nor more than seven feet above the surface of the space. Exceptions are made for signs placed on psosts which contain other parking signs and for signs which were in place on or before February 1, 2001, provided that such signs are clearly visible to drivers entering the designated parking spaces.

The universal symbol of accessibility is a representational figure of a person in a wheelchair.

Universal Symbol of Accessibility
Universal Symbol of Accessibility -
3. What does "available to the public mean?"
4. How many parking spaces for persions with disabiltiies are required in a parking lot or structure available to the public?
5. How wide does a parking space for persons with disabilities need to be?
6. If I have an identification device or license plate which authorizes me to park in a parking space for persons with disabilities, may I park in the access aisle of a van accessible space?
7. Are owners of apartment buildings required to provide parking spaces for persons with disabilities?
8. Are employers required to provide parking spaces for persons with disabilities for their employees?
9. Is a business required to provide parking spaces for disabilities for its customers?
10. May I use a parking space for persons with disabilities if I have an identification device or license plate allowing me to use these spaces issued by another state?
11. How do I get an identification device or license plate allowing me to park in spaces for persons with disabilities?

 

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Created: 05-10-2006
Last Updated: 04-12-2012 (MRC)