An overview of the ADA
The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, is designed to make public buildings, accommodations, and businesses accessible to all Americans. The goal of the regulations is to make buildings and structures accessible to a wide range of the population, regardless of peoples’ physical restrictions or disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures access to the build environment for people with disabilities. ADA standards exist to establish requirements in the design for the construction of new facilities and renovation of existing facilities subject to the law. These standards apply to public accommodation places, commercial facilities, and state and local government buildings.
According to the ADA Code of Federal Regulations there are two types of buildings which must be ADA compliant;
Places of public accommodation: The following is a break-down of what “public accommodation” means, followed by examples.
- Lodging: inns, hotels, etc. Only owner-occupied spaces with fewer than 6 rooms don’t need to comply.
- Restaurants and bars.
- Places of exhibition or entertainment (stadiums, cinemas).
- Places of public gathering (auditoriums, lecture halls).
- Sales or rental establishments (grocery stores, shopping centers).
- Service establishments (laundromats, banks, professional offices).
- Public transport terminals, depots, or stations (not including air transport).
- Education locations.
- Social Service Centers (day cares, senior centers, food banks).
- Places of exercise/recreation (gyms, spas, golf courses).
Commercial buildings that need to be accessed by people with disabilities: If the business has a storefront that needs to be accessed by disabled customers, it must be ADA compliant.
Basically, these buildings include everything except for private residences and businesses that don’t have storefronts or disabled workers.
It’s incredibly important to note that ADA compliance applies to buildings built before the ADA as well. Just because the building has been in operation for generations does not mean that it is immune to the law which became mandatory in 2012.
Here is an ADA checklist for existing facilities. It is a long-form guide for how to ensure that your commercial space has proper access for the disabled.
What are the places that my business should pay closest attention to in order to ensure ADA compliance?
Entrances and trafficked routes
If stairs are required to get into or around your building, you will have problems with ADA accessibility. Simply put, if people with disabilities can’t get in your building, you have issues before you’ve even started.
Make sure when you are building your accessibility features that they actually work too. It’s not uncommon to see ramps that are far too steep for an actual wheelchair outside a building, or ramps that are blocked and inaccessible. If you have platform lifts or elevators for the disabled, maintain them. Ensuring that disabled people can actually get into your building isn’t just good business, it’s the law.
Parking access for disabled people is often a bigger headache than property developers anticipate. You can’t just get away with a space having a disabled access picture on the pavement. There should be a sign that also indicates it (so it is visible even when a car is parked over it) and room for someone with a wheelchair or scooter to get out of their car.
Additionally, what’s needed is access from the disabled parking spaces to the building itself. This often means open, flat ground that let’s those with disabilities move unimpeded to the entrance. The path has to not cross the path of traffic, and it can be extremely difficult to plan and design. Many big box stores with crammed parking lots fail here, as do shopping malls, movie theaters, and parking garages.
Finally, there needs to be a ramp so that wheelchairs and scooters can access the sidewalk pavement from the parking lot. These are also often difficult, not only to find, but to get to when someone has to move around multiple other parked cars. If the terrain goes up or down significantly on the way to the building entrance, then more ramps will be needed to accommodate disabled persons.
On older buildings, constructing ADA access from parking often means a vast amount of asphalt paving work must be done — or redone.
Toilets are a can be extremely difficult to get to agree with the ADA. There are a whole slew of regulations and rules that toilets must follow. Some notable installations include:
- Grab bars of appropriate placement and height.
- A toilet of the right size and height.
- Foot clearance space.
- Accessible location for the disabled.
- Stall doors of the right size. Stall doors must also use the right types of accessible latches.
- ADA compliant flush controls.
- Adequate floor space.
- Appropriately-spaced toilet paper dispensers.
The list goes on. For a full list of ADA compliance, including diagrams and figures with exact measurements, look at the ADA Access Board Guidelines.
Other priorities for accessibility
Besides the three aforementioned hot spots, an ADA compliant building should prioritize the following areas.
Access to Goods and Services
Disabled people should be able not only to enter the building, and toilets, but do what they came their to do. If you have a disabled worker, that person has to be able to get to his/her workplace and work. Disabled customers have to be able to get into each theater in a cinema, or reach the goods they want in a shop.
Access to other public items/ important locations
Public phones, water fountains, public computers, etc. must all be accessible for the disabled. People need to be able to use the toilet, work, access goods and services, and access public items in the same capacity as people who aren’t disabled.
Let us help you make sure your business is ADA compliant.
Reliable Paving is an experienced and dedicated team of paving contractors. We are knowledgeable about local and national certifications, especially ADA compliance. There is no substitute to having a professional check out your building to ensure you are following the whole law. Our paving skills ensure parking lot access, quality ramps, and much more. Contact us today for a free quote and fast service.