Why does anyone planning a commercial building construction project need to be aware of the Americans With Disabilities Act? This civil rights law sets out requirements for public accommodation. Public and commercial facilities must keep matters like ADA compliance and wheelchair accessibility in mind whenever they embark on new construction or substantial renovation. Fortunately, there are several options that you can use to ensure that your facility is accessible to wheelchair users.
Wheelchair Accessibility Options for Multi-Story Buildings
When accessibility is a concern, ramps are a common choice. A wheelchair ramp provides safe access to people reliant on wheelchairs, mobility scooters, rollators, and walkers. As a bonus, it also offers welcome convenience to people using strollers. When incorporating wheelchair ramps into the design of a facility, you must keep specific guidelines in mind. ADA requirements state that wheelchair ramps must be at least 36 inches wide. Any edges must be protected to prevent falls.
In some cases, cross slopes can be used. In others, handrails may be needed. Wheelchair ramps also must have level landing areas at their tops and bottoms that are as wide as the ramps and at least 5 feet in length. Also, their slopes must meet specific standards. The maximum slope allowed is 1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of length. Ideally, a vertical rise of 1 inch for every 20 inches of length is utilized.
What if you don’t have the space to incorporate wheelchair accessibility in tighter quarters? To maintain the proper slope while climbing to a sizeable height, a ramp needs an equally impressive length. A wheelchair lift is one option to consider in such instances. Wheelchair lifts operate much like an elevator. These machines carry wheelchair users and other passengers from one level to another. Their footprint is minimal and can handle a higher slope.
They are often placed alongside steps to fulfill the demand for public accommodation. Wheelchair lifts can be installed inside, outside and even in swimming pools.
Elevators are another way to meet the challenge of vertical accessibility. However, not all elevators are up to the task. The ADA elevator requirements set standards for size and door placement so that wheelchair users are able to enter and exit the car safely. In addition, the elevator door must open fully for a period of at least 3 seconds. Controls both inside and outside the car must be within easy reach. Also, there should be visual and audible cues that indicate a car’s availability and progress. If an elevator will provide wheelchair accessibility between various floors, a service elevator can be designated for this purpose. However, the service elevator must include all the required elements.
Are you making plans to build from the ground up or embark on a commercial building renovation? ADA compliance is a complex subject, and failure to comply can be an expensive mistake. Enlisting the services of an experienced PA general contractor who is familiar with ADA requirements and how they might impact your project is vital. CBF Contracting Inc.has the expertise to do the job right the first time. Contact us today at 814-745-3000 to discuss your commercial construction needs and learn more about our services.