As of 2015 statistics, at least 40 million American citizens are disabled, roughly making that 12.6% of the U.S population. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title III, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses open to the public, such as stores, restaurants, medical offices and schools, just to name a few). It requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation – as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses or office buildings) – to comply with the most recent adopted and enforceable ADA Standards for Accessible Design (which set minimum requirements for applicable facilities to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities).
Your business facility may not currently provide adequate accommodations, but we at Watkins Architect can guide you through the process of assessing your facility to identify features that are barriers and not in compliance with the ADA Standards and provide recommendations for alterations to remove those barriers and bring your facility in compliance. For example, on the exterior, one of the first and most common changes is the removal of a barrier that may inhibit someone with a physical disability from entering your facility; required as part of an accessible route. This might require the construction of a new ramp, adding curb ramps, or replacing a narrow door with one that has a minimum clear width of 34”. Another very common upgrade is providing designated parking spaces for individuals with a disability, with the number of spaces as outlined in the ADA Standards.
Inside your facility, you must have at least one accessible route, connected to at least one accessible entrance, to each portion of the building. This includes customers who are using a wheelchair, electric scooters, and canes. It might involve adding an elevator, upgrading toilet rooms to be accessible or providing proper clearances at doors.
Lastly, although privately-owned or leased single–family residences do not come under the jurisdiction of the ADA Standards, we have a few accessibility tips and upgrade advice for your own home. If you have someone in your family who is disabled, you should find a good spot for an entrance that is easier for them to enter. This can include similar procedures to what we mentioned earlier, such as the implementation of a ramp or elevator. Remember to find a suitable spot that can lead to your door and it isn’t blocked by bushes, trees, or other vegetation.
We at Watkins Architect recommend that you seek architectural assistance for making your business facility ADA Compliant or improving the accessibility of your home. Please contact us today; we know the rules and regulations, and have vast experience with projects involving accessibility design, which can save you time and frustration.