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March 13, 2012 -
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.