ADA: A Clear Path

  January 18, 2010

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is accessibility.

Restrooms in institutional and commercial facilities receive a large part of the attention given to accessibility. But before many visitors with disabilities ever get to restrooms, they confront challenges related to facility components that include entrance doors, ramps, water fountains, handrails, wheelchair lifts and elevators.

Consider the category referred to as accessing goods and services. This category encompasses everything on the interior path of travel, including corridors, lobbies, elevators, wheelchair lifts, store doorways, and offices. The ADA access guidelines address aisle widths, heights of products, sales and checkout counters, and other amenities associated with transactions that take place. To provide a clear path for accessing goods and services, managers need to consider these issues:

Lobby floor surfaces should be smooth and slip-resistant. Be cautious of floor-waxing products that become slippery when wet. They are trip-and-fall hazards, as well as potential personal injuries, waiting to happen.

Next, when using carpet runners at doors and lobbies, make sure the edges are secured to the floor and don’t curl or bunch.

Next, make sure printed directories are readable, use larger print, and are not behind a reflective surface. An alternative is to use security staff to provide assistance and directions to visitors.

Finally, make sure items such as hanging artwork and fire-extinguisher boxes aren't mounted between 27 and 80 inches from the floor and don’t protrude more than 4 inches from a wall or 12 inches from a post. Visitors and occupants with visual disabilities using a cane would get no warning before walking into these protruding objects. Either move them to another location - or more than 80 inches above the floor - or place something underneath them to provide a warning.


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