Before making changes to your building entrance to make it more accessible, it is important to be familiar with ADA specifications. Below is some information to help you learn more about ADA codes and how to comply with them. Also, at the bottom of the page there are some interesting ADA related links to provide additional information.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was set forth in 1990. The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, enabling them to share in and contribute to the vitality of American life. The ADA means access to:
ADA's regulations are issued and enforced by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation. The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) of the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board (ATBCB) require public facilities and grounds to comply with design, construction, and installation standards. Although not binding to personal residences, these standards should be taken into consideration when purchasing a modular ramp.
WHERE DO THRESHOLD RAMPS AND LANDINGS FIT IN?
Selecting the correct wheelchair threshold ramp or level landing system for door entrances is important for ADA compliance and preventing trips and falls. Familiarity with ADA codes will help you choose the correct products and avoid costly renovations that do not comply with ADA standards. Often thousands of dollars are spent on concrete demolition and construction only to find out later that the work done does not meet all of the ADA's requirements. Products such as SafePath's EntryLevel™ Landings can provide you with an ADA compliant ramp system that is easy to install and is a fraction of the cost of concrete.
ADA specifications apply to public accommodations (i.e. private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation). This includes commercial facilities such as offices and factories, restaurants, stores, hotels, hospitals, libraries, laundromats, theaters, parks, zoos, private schools, day care centers, health spas, bowling alleys, and more. Different levels of access modification may be required for existing facilities versus new construction, however, there is no "grandfather clause" that would exempt existing facilities from these requirements.
Four basic requirements should be considered when evaluating access code compliance at primary door thresholds with a change in level greater than 1/2 inch:
Although a ramp or landing system installed at a private residence typically is not obligated to meet ADAAG requirements, by following these guidelines the end user is assured acceptable levels of convenience, comfort, and safety:
2010 ADA Standards will be mandatory March 15, 2012. (1991 ADA Standards are usable until then.)
201.1 Scope. All areas of newly designed and newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities shall comply with these requirements. Advisory 201.1 Scope. These requirements are to be applied to all areas of a facility unless exempted, or where scoping limits the number of multiple elements required to be accessible. For example, not all medical care patient rooms are required to be accessible; those that are not required to be accessible are not required to comply with these requirements. However, common use and public use spaces such as recovery rooms, examination rooms, and cafeterias are not exempt from these requirements and must be accessible.
201.2 Application Based on Building or Facility Use. Where a site, building, facility, room, or space contains more than one use, each portion shall comply with the applicable requirements for that use.
201.3 Temporary and Permanent Structures. These requirements shall apply to temporary and permanent buildings and facilities. Advisory 201.3 Temporary and Permanent Structures. Temporary buildings or facilities covered by these requirements include, but are not limited to, reviewing stands, temporary classrooms, bleacher areas, stages, platforms and daises, fixed furniture systems, wall systems, and exhibit areas, temporary banking facilities, and temporary health screening facilities. Structures and equipment directly associated with the actual processes of construction are not required to be accessible as permitted in 203.2.
202 EXISTING BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES
202.1 General. Additions and alterations to existing buildings or facilities shall comply with 202.
202.2 Additions. Each addition to an existing building or facility shall comply with the requirements for new construction. Each addition that affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area containing a primary function shall comply with 202.4.
202.3 Alterations. Where existing elements or spaces are altered, each altered element or space shall comply with the applicable requirements of Chapter 2. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Unless required by 202.4, where elements or spaces are altered and the circulation path to the altered element or space is not altered, an accessible route shall not be required. 2. In alterations, where compliance with applicable requirements is technically infeasible, the alteration shall comply with the requirements to the maximum extent feasible. 3. Residential dwelling units not required to be accessible in compliance with a standard issued pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, shall not be required to comply with 202.3. Advisory 202.3 Alterations. Although covered entities are permitted to limit the scope of an alteration to individual elements, the alteration of multiple elements within a room or space may provide a cost-effective opportunity to make the entire room or space accessible. Any elements or spaces of the building or facility that are required to comply with these requirements must be made accessible within the scope of the alteration, to the maximum extent feasible. If providing accessibility in compliance with these requirements for people with one type of disability (e.g., people who use wheelchairs) is not feasible, accessibility must still be provided in compliance with the requirements for people with other types of disabilities (e.g., people who have hearing impairments or who have vision impairments) to the extent that such accessibility is feasible.
202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas. In addition to the requirements of 202.3, an alteration that affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area containing a primary function shall be made so as to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible, the path of travel to the altered area, including the rest rooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless such alterations are disproportionate to the overall alterations in terms of cost and scope as determined under criteria established by the Attorney General. In existing transportation facilities, an area of primary function shall be as defined under regulations published by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation or the Attorney General. EXCEPTION: Residential dwelling units shall not be required to comply with 202.4. Advisory 202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas. An area of a building or facility containing a major activity for which the building or facility is intended is a primary function area. Department of Justice ADA regulations state, "Alterations made to provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area will be deemed disproportionate to the overall alteration when the cost exceeds 20% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area." (28 CFR 36.403 (f)(1)). See also Department of Transportation ADA regulations, which use similar concepts in the context of public sector transportation facilities (49 CFR 37.43 (e)(1)). There can be multiple areas containing a primary function in a single building. Primary function areas are not limited to public use areas. For example, both a bank lobby and the bank's employee areas such as the teller areas and walk-in safe are primary function areas. Also, mixed use facilities may include numerous primary function areas for each use. Areas containing a primary function do not include: mechanical rooms, boiler rooms, supply storage rooms, employee lounges or locker rooms, janitorial closets, entrances, corridors, or restrooms.
202.5 Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities. Alterations to a qualified historic building or facility shall comply with 202.3 and 202.4. EXCEPTION: Where the State Historic Preservation Officer or Advisory Council on Historic Preservation determines that compliance with the requirements for accessible routes, entrances, or toilet facilities would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities for that element shall be permitted to apply. Advisory 202.5 Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities Exception. State Historic Preservation Officers are State appointed officials who carry out certain responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act. State Historic Preservation Officers consult with Federal and State agencies, local governments, and private entities on providing access and protecting significant elements of qualified historic buildings and facilities. There are exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings and facilities for accessible routes (206.2.1 Exception 1 and 206.2.3 Exception 7); entrances (206.4 Exception 2); and toilet facilities (213.2 Exception 2). When an entity believes that compliance with the requirements for any of these elements would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the entity should consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer. If the State Historic Preservation Officer agrees that compliance with the requirements for a specific element would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, use of the exception is permitted. Public entities have an additional obligation to achieve program accessibility under the Department of Justice ADA regulations. See 28 CFR 35.150. These regulations require public entities that operate historic preservation programs to give priority to methods that provide physical access to individuals with disabilities. If alterations to a qualified historic building or facility to achieve program accessibility would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, fundamentally alter the program, or result in undue financial or administrative burdens, the Department of Justice ADA regulations allow alternative methods to be used to achieve program accessibility. In the case of historic preservation programs, such as an historic house museum, alternative methods include using audio-visual materials to depict portions of the house that cannot otherwise be made accessible. In the case of other qualified historic properties, such as an historic government office building, alternative methods include relocating programs and services to accessible locations. The Department of Justice ADA regulations also allow public entities to use alternative methods when altering qualified historic buildings or facilities in the rare situations where the State Historic Preservation Officer determines that it is not feasible to provide physical access using the exceptions permitted in Section 202.5 without threatening or destroying the historic significance of the building or facility. See 28 CFR 35.151(d). The AccessAbility Office at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provides a variety of resources for museum operators and historic properties including: the Design for Accessibility Guide and the Disability Symbols. Contact NEA about these and other resources at (202) 682-5532 or www.arts.gov.
303 CHANGES IN LEVEL
303.1 General. Where changes in level are permitted in floor or ground surfaces, they shall comply with 303. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Animal containment areas shall not be required to comply with 303. 2. Areas of sport activity shall not be required to comply with 303.
303.2 Vertical. Changes in level of 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) high maximum shall be permitted to be vertical.
303.3 Beveled. Changes in level between 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) high minimum and 1/2 inch (13 mm) high maximum shall be beveled with a slope not steeper than 1:2. Advisory 303.3 Beveled. A change in level of 1/2 inch (13 mm) is permitted to be 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) vertical plus 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) beveled. However, in no case may the combined change in level exceed 1/2 inch (13 mm). Changes in level exceeding 1/2 inch (13 mm) must comply with 405 (Ramps) or 406 (Curb Ramps).
303.4 Ramps. Changes in level greater than 1/2 inch (13 mm) high shall be ramped, and shall comply with 405 or 406.
304 TURNING SPACES
304.1 General. Turning space shall comply with 304.
304.2 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of a turning space shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted. Advisory 304.2 Floor or Ground Surface Exception. As used in this section, the phrase "changes in level" refers to surfaces with slopes and to surfaces with abrupt rise exceeding that permitted in Section 303.3. Such changes in level are prohibited in required clear floor and ground spaces, turning spaces, and in similar spaces where people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices must park their mobility aids such as in wheelchair spaces, or maneuver to use elements such as at doors, fixtures, and telephones. The exception permits slopes not steeper than 1:48.
304.3 Size. Turning space shall comply with 304.3.1 or 304.3.2.
405.1 General. Ramps on accessible routes shall comply with 405. EXCEPTION: In assembly areas, aisle ramps adjacent to seating and not serving elements required to be on an accessible route shall not be required to comply with 405.
405.2 Slope. Ramp runs shall have a running slope not steeper than 1:12. EXCEPTION: In existing sites, buildings, and facilities, ramps shall be permitted to have running slopes steeper than 1:12 complying with Table 405.2 where such slopes are necessary due to space limitations. Advisory 405.2 Slope. To accommodate the widest range of users, provide ramps with the least possible running slope and, wherever possible, accompany ramps with stairs for use by those individuals for whom distance presents a greater barrier than steps, e.g., people with heart disease or limited stamina.
405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope of ramp runs shall not be steeper than 1:48. Advisory 405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope is the slope of the surface perpendicular to the direction of travel. Cross slope is measured the same way as slope is measured (i.e., the rise over the run).
405.4 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of ramp runs shall comply with 302. Changes in level other than the running slope and cross slope are not permitted on ramp runs.
405.5 Clear Width. The clear width of a ramp run and, where handrails are provided, the clear width between handrails shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, the required clear width of ramps that are a part of common use circulation paths shall be permitted to be decreased by work area equipment provided that the decrease is essential to the function of the work being performed.
405.6 Rise. The rise for any ramp run shall be 30 inches (760 mm) maximum.
405.7 Landings. Ramps shall have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run. Landings shall comply with 405.7 Advisory 405.7 Landings. Ramps that do not have level landings at changes in direction can create a compound slope that will not meet the requirements of this document. Circular or curved ramps continually change direction. Curvilinear ramps with small radii also can create compound cross slopes and cannot, by their nature, meet the requirements for accessible routes. A level landing is needed at the accessible door to permit maneuvering and simultaneously door operation.
405.8 Handrails. Ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) shall have handrails complying with 505. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, handrails shall not be required where ramps that are part of common use circulation paths are designed to permit the installation of handrails complying with 505. Ramps not subject to the exception to 405.5 shall be designed to maintain a 36 inch (915 mm) minimum clear width when handrails are installed.
405.9 Edge Protection. Edge protection complying with 405.9.1 or 405.9.2 shall be provided on each side of ramp runs and at each side of ramp landings. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Edge protection shall not be required on ramps that are not required to have handrails and have sides complying with 406.3. 2. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings serving an adjoining ramp run or stairway. 3. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings having a vertical drop-off of 1/2 inch (13 mm) maximum within 10 inches (255 mm) horizontally of the minimum landing area specified in 405.7.
404 DOORS, DOORWAYS, AND GATES
404.2.4 Maneuvering Clearances. Minimum maneuvering clearances at doors and gates shall comply with 404.2.4. Maneuvering clearances shall extend the full width of the doorway and the required latch side or hinge side clearance. EXCEPTION: Entry doors to hospital patient rooms shall not be required to provide the clearance beyond the latch side of the door.
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