4 FM quick reads on ADA
1. ADA: Avoiding Accessibility Trouble
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, avoiding ADA trouble.
For the last 20 years, thousands of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases have been filed in federal courts across the United States, as well as through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the federal agency responsible for enforcing ADA standards for facilities. Most of these cases began with an issue in an existing building, where an individual with a disability or DOJ cited the facility's lack of "readily achievable barrier removal" as the primary reason for the complaint.
The following questions can help facility managers determine their level of risk for an ADA complaint from an individual or DOJ:
- Have we evaluated our facilities for ADA barriers?
- Have we been performing readily achievable barrier removal since January 1992?
- Have we ensured that modifications, alterations, additions and new construction after 1992 were comply with the 1991 standards?
- Have we ensured that the facility's accessibility features — including door closers, sidewalks, ramps, handrails, and grab bars — are maintained in working order?
- Have we been documenting all of our ADA compliance efforts?
3. ADA: The Outside Story
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, ADA: The Outside Story.
Accessibility is intended primarily to ensure the equal use and enjoyment of institutional and commercial facilities for people with disabilities, but it provides benefits for everyone. Using the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements as a baseline, maintenance and engineering managers can expand on accessibility, incorporate elements of universal design, and make facilities more usable to more people. Consider these two exterior areas of facilities:
Parking. Using placards to indicate handicapped parking is on the rise. ADA provides a numerical table to help managers determine the required number of reserved accessible van and car spaces. These are minimum standards, so if space is available, managers can include additional spaces. If a facility has multiple entrances or levels of parking, consider spreading these spaces out among the entrances or levels.
Exterior areas. Sidewalks, pathways and other areas of pedestrian travel are critical areas for proper maintenance. This work can ensure walking surfaces are clear and dry and that plowed snow is not deposited into the accessible parking spaces or at the bottom of curb ramps. But it also is important to make sure walking surfaces remain smooth and free of gaps, cracks and other obstacles. These areas present trip hazards for anyone, particularly those who have trouble seeing or walking.
4. Common ADA Violations
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, common ADA violations.
Where do the most common violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act occur in institutional and commercial facilities? Truth be told, violations occur in nearly every area of a facility. Consider these examples:
The built environment. Violations range from ramps that are too steep to a lack of marked parking spaces with marked access aisles and signs. Ground markings don't count because visitors can't see them at night or when it has just snowed.
Restrooms. The most common violations include toilets that are not mounted the correct distance from wall or partition, as well as flush valves for toilets that are on the wrong side. In the latter case, if the handle isn't on the wide side, a user must reach over the toilet to flush it.
Operations. Many common violations are operational in nature, meaning they were not designed or constructed that way.
For example, a housekeeper places a garbage can next to a restroom exit door. Clear space next to a door gives a wheelchair user the space to approach the door, reach the handle and open it, but this is not possible if the garbage can is in the way. A worker also might place a garbage can directly in front of an elevator's call buttons, which hampers the ability of someone using a wheelchair or a walker to reach the buttons.
Also, in some facilities, on walls in the circulation route workers mount objects that project 4 inches or more from the wall. If the objects are between 27 inches to 80 inches from the floor, a person with a visual disability will miss the item when doing a cane sweep and walk into the object, risking injury and a lawsuit.