September 1, 1992 Mr. John Wodatch Office of ADA Civil Rights U.S. Department of Justice P.O. Box 66738 Washington, D.C.



Re: American With Disabilities Act of 1990 Interpretations of Title III Department of Justice Regulations Dear Mr. Wodatch: I am writing on behalf of Maytag Company and Dixie-Narco, Inc. concerning different, but related, issues which are being raised by their customers. Maytag Company is a division of Maytag Corporation. Dixie-Narco, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maytag Corporation. The issues are: 1. Commercial washer compliance with A.D.A.; and 2. The extent to which A.D.A requires Braille lettering on commercial laundry and vending equipment. Both issues directly affect customers' demands for products sold by those two parts of the corporation. 1. COMMERCIAL WASHERS 1. Product Background Commercial washers used in coin laundries and multiple dwelling situations (apartments, dormitories, etc.) are either top-loading (and operate much like your washer at home) or front-loading (place clothing through a door In the front of the machine). Front-loading washers cost their ultimate purchaser from two-to-four times as much as top loaders. Each wash load in a front-loading washer costs the laundry customer between 50% and 75% more than does each load in a top-loading washer. Front-loading washers are typically installed by bolting them to a raised concrete platform, with the exception of a Wascomat Model P-12 (manufactured for Wascomat in Italy) and a Miele product (manufactured by Miele in Germany). Front-loading washers, with the exception of the Wascomat Model P-12 and the Miele product are typically designed for detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry aids to be used by placing them in compartments on

top of the washer. 01-02788

-2Industry sales figures for front-loading washers are somewhat sketchy. However, in 1991 269,000 commercial top-load washers were sold in the U.S. This figure was down approximately 15% from 1990 unit sales. Of these units, approximately 80% were placed in multiple housing locations. Maytag Company enjoys are significant share of the multiple housing top-load washer market. In normal installations, the tops of Maytag Company's top-load washers are approximately 36" above floor level. Maytag Company has anecdotal evidence that wheelchair-bound customers prefer to use top-loading washers over frontloading washers. Also, Maytag Company conducted unscientific experiments which indicate that wheelchair-bound customers can completely operate a normally-installed Maytag top-load washer. 2. ADA Regulation The only specific ADA Accessibility Guidelines that affect laundry equipment are those concerning controls and operating mechanisms, ADAAG 4.27; 4.2.5; and 4.2.6. According to ADAAG Figures 6(b) and 6(c), there are two different methods of determining whether controls and operating mechanisms are accessible. The first method applies to equipment which can be operated without reaching over an obstruction. If the operator is not reaching over an obstruction, the controls and operating mechanisms can be as high as 54" off the ground and can be as low as 9" above the ground. The second method applies to equipment which can be operated while reaching over an obstruction. If the operator is reaching over an obstruction, the height of the obstruction can only be 34" off the floor. Also, the control or operating mechanism which you are trying to reach over that 34" obstruction can be no more than 24" from the front of that obstruction. Thus, the Department of Justice's ADA Title III regulations suggest that both top-loading washers and front-loading washers (which normally operate by

placing detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry aids in compartments on top of the front-load washer) comply with ADA Title III if the tops of both types of equipment are no higher than 34" from the floor. 3. ADA Compliance If necessary, the ADA Title III Department of Justice standard can be met for Maytag top-load washers by Installing 2" false floors or lowering the washer 2" below the customer's floor level. The only way it can be met for front-loading washers is by forcing the use of the foreign-produced machines or by ignoring the fact that users of domestic-produced front-load washers (as designed for normal operation) need to reach over an obstruction higher than 34" in order to place detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry aids necessary to launder clothing. Other practical concerns include the following. Must 100% of the washers (whether front-loading or top-loading) be accessible? If not, how many washers must be accessible? 4. Contradictory Federal Regulations? a. U.F.A.S. The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, adopt ANSI A117.1-1986, a later version of the same standard which was the basis of the Department of Justice's ADA Title III regulations. ANSI A117.1-1986 contains the same reach require01-02789 ments as the ADA Tittle III regulations. However, L.F.A.S. adopts ANSI A117.1-1986 In its entirety and states that washing machines and clothes dryers in common-use laundry rooms "shall be front loading." Are front loaders required without regard to the reach requirements In ANSI A117.1-19867 Are top loads" really Intended to be banned? b. H. U. D.

The regulations of the Department of Housing and Urban Development are also based on ANSI A117.1-1986. The HUD regulations apply, in general, to dwelllings which house four or more families. The H.U.D. regulations, contrary to ANSI A117.1-1986, permit top-loading laundry equipment to be placed in common laundry areas when the management of that facility, "provides assistive devices on request if necessary to permit a resident to use a top-loading washer." Must top loading laundry

equipment also meet the reach requirements or are the reach requirements waived so long as assistive devices are provided upon request? c. State and Local Government Choice of Regulation Regulations adopted under Title II of ADA give state and local governmental entities, such as universities and public colleges, the opportunity to pick and choose between the ADA regulations and the UFAS standards. What products can be sold for use in university/college laundry facilities ---the foreign produced front-loading equipment only, any type of front-loading equipment, or a mix of front-loading and top-loading equipment? II. BRAILLED INFORMATION ON EQUIPMENT Another Issue that we are seeking to have clarified is the extent to which places of public accommodation are required to put brailled lettering on equipment. The regulations and Department of Justice commentary (excerpts attached) suggest that places of public accommodation may need to place brailled lettering on vending machines. However, there are no specific guidelines. Do "vending machines" mean just pop can dispensers or do they include coin changers, soap dispensing equipment, and commercial laundry equipment? What types of information do you place in Braille? I would be pleased to discuss these issues in more detail with you and(if necessary) appropriate personnel from Maytag Company and Dixie-Narco, Inc. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. Sincerely, James M. Gran Associate Counsel cc: Randy Karn - Maytag Company John O'Hare - Dixie-Narco, Inc. Enclosures Direct Line. 515-791-8505 Law Department FAX: 515-791-8102 01-02790