Accessibility to Facilities Goods and Services

  May 31, 2013

One central goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines is ensuring that occupants and visitors can access goods and services in facilities. This process encompasses everything on the interior path of travel in a building, including corridors, lobbies, elevators, wheelchair lifts, store doorways, and offices.

Once inside an establishment — whether it is retail or service-oriented — the focus on access includes aisle widths, heights of products, sales and checkout counters, and other amenities associated with the transactions that take place. Managers must consider these issues:
  • Lobby floor surfaces should be smooth and slip-resistant. Be cautious of floor-waxing products that become slippery when wet. That is a trip and fall — and personal injury — waiting to happen.
  • When using carpet runners at doors and lobbies, make sure the edges are secured to the floor and do not curl or bunch.
  • Make sure printed directories are readable, use larger print, and are not contained behind a reflective surface. An alternative is to use security staff to provide assistance and directions to visitors.
  • On any path of travel, make sure items such as hanging artwork or fire extinguisher boxes are not mounted between 27 inches and 80 inches from the floor or don't protrude more than 4 inches from a wall or 12 inches from a post. Someone with a visual disability would get no warning with a cane before walking right into these protruding objects. Either move them to another location — or more than 80 inches from the floor — or place something underneath them to provide a warning to individuals with visual disabilities.
  • Make sure boxes, file cabinets and similar items do not block a clear path of travel — one that is at least 36 inches wide — of any hallway or corridor.
  • If elevators have emergency communication systems, make sure they do not require voice only, such as a telephone in a box or one with push-button operation. Neither of these is effective for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities. Speak with the elevator vendor to have them update the emergency communication system.


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