4 FM quick reads on ADA
1. ADA: Communication for Success
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, clear communication for enhanced accessibility.
The remedies for barriers to accessibility in institutional and commercial facilities might seem complex, given the systems, equipment and materials that often are involved in renovations and remodeling. But tactics for improving access outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, need not be complicated. In fact, in some cases the remedies are surprisingly straightforward and practical.
For example, involving building occupants and visitors in the planning process will result in an accessibility plan that thoroughly addresses the access needs of all involved. Among the steps managers should consider are these:
- Make the self-evaluation and transition plan available for public inspection.
- Post a policy or statement of nondiscrimination that includes members of the public and employees.
- Develop an ADA advisory committee that includes individuals with disabilities and other members of the public.
- Maintain a library of staff-development resources that can be checked out or made available, including videotapes, presentations, and audiotapes.
- Provide ADA materials and staff-development sessions for managers, administrators, supervisors, maintenance and operations staffs, and other departments as appropriate.
- Adopt or develop procedures for grievances or uniform compliance that include members of the public, recipients of services, and employees.
- Disseminate and post information regarding the organization's compliance procedures.
2. 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?
4. 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.