Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Signage Matters

I am still to this day mystified as to how business owners react to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   The photograph above is a prime example of exactly what I am describing.

This photograph was taken at a gas station in the City of Pico Rivera.   The gas station has one van accessible parking space; however, there was a 3/4” change in elevation between the van accessible parking space and the walkway to the gas station convenience store.   Because of the ¾” change in elevation, the gas station received a lawsuit and as a result, they removed the entire van accessible parking space and poured a new concrete parking space that was 100% level with the adjacent walkway.   Everything is good now????

Well, as with so many businesses, the parking space was only one of many violations of the ADA that exist at the gas station.   It was at this point that I offered my services to the gas station manager as I thought they may want to avoid future lawsuits.

Sure enough, as with most business, they believed they were O.K. now and did not want to enlist my services as a professional ADA consultant.   

Unfortunately, the business owner has gone from bad to worse if that is possible and will probably be involved in another lawsuit in the next year or two.   The basis of the lawsuit will be the incorrect signage located in front of the new van accessible parking space.   Of particular issue is the tow away sign which I will discuss. 

The tow away sign is required at all vehicular entrances.   There is an exception that allows the tow away sign to be located adjacent to the accessible space as shown above.   So far, so good, but now we need to examine the sign.   The accessibility code is very specific as to the language of the sign and provides the exact language in a paragraph of the accessibility codes.   In addition, the signage is to provide the location and the telephone number of where a towed vehicle can be obtained.   This contact information is important because legitimate tow companies will not tow without that information.   Finally, the accessibility code state the sign shall be 17” wide x 22” high and shall have text that is 1” high.   It’s obvious the tow away sign in the photograph above does not meet any of these very specific requirements.

Believe it or not there are numerous other issues with regards to the other signage shown above including sign size, mounting height and other missing signage.   It’s hard to believe, but these few signs can get the business owner into a whole lot of trouble in the form a lawsuit.

Now for the sad news……..correct signage for this location will probably cost a total of $150.00 maximum.   In reality if there is a lawsuit, the cost to the business owner will be no where near that amount.  More than likely the owner will pay $4,000.00 to a plaintiff or if the business owner chooses to fight it, the cost of an attorney will exceed the cost of the correct signage.   And to be honest, my fees as an ADA consultant would be far less then both the cost of a lawsuit and the cost of an attorney.

Unfortunately, I see this often where owners are just too stubborn to pay for the services of an ADA consultant and end up in a lawsuit where they ultimately pay the plaintiff and then pay my fee as an ADA consultant and then pay the cost to fix the issue.   Why are business owner not proactive and eliminate the lawsuit by enlisting my services?   Now one will ever know what these business owners are thinking, but one thing is for sure………….it’s costing business owners thousands of needless dollars.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Door Knobs – When and Where?

It’s surprising to me that although door knobs such at the one shown in the photograph above have not been allowed by the code for probably 20 years, I still see them quite often.   Door knobs are not allowed anywhere in a commercial building.    Remember, while most believe the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is only for those individuals in a wheelchair that is simply not true.  The ADA is for anyone with a disability and included in that group would be those individuals with arthritis.  As you probably know, arthritis affects the joints and in some cases, makes it difficult or impossible for suffers to use their hands.

As a result, those with arthritis in their hands can not open doors with knobs.   The ADA requires door hardware that does not require tight grasping, tight pinching or twisting of the wrist to operate.   A door knob requires that someone must tightly grasp the door know and twist with their wrist to open and this can be almost impossible for those with arthritis.  

To solve this problem, most commercial building owners simply install lever hardware such as the one shown in the photograph at the right.   As you can see from the photograph, no tight grasping is required to open the door.   Someone with arthritis can simply hit the lever with their fist to open the   In addition to the requirements for lever hardware, in some building occupancies the lever must return to within ½” of the door to prevent clothing from being caught by the lever as someone is exiting the building.

Building owners should be aware there are certain other requirements for the door hardware including the mounting height of the hardware.    Building owners are advised to secure professional assistance in selecting and installing door hardware.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What’s The Deal at the Bottom of the Door?

Correct Door Bottom

Modified Door Bottom

In my previous blog, I discussed some of the work involved in a California Certified Access Specialist (CASp) Report and I specifically discussed some of the checks that are required for doors.   One of the door checks involves the rail at the bottom of the door.   In general, the ADA requires the bottom rail to be smooth and a minimum of 10” high.   This is mostly a problem for glass storefront doors.   Newer storefront doors easily meet this requirement, but older doors do not. 
The reason behind the 10” bottom rail is simple…………to assist someone in a wheelchair in opening the door.   The issue is that without a 10” bottom rail, the footrest of the wheelchair may get caught on the door frame and make it difficult if not impossible for someone in a wheelchair to open the door and in a worst case scenario, the glass door could get broken.

The picture shown above on the left was taken at a Macy’s Department Store.   I am not sure if the work they have done is the result of a lawsuit, but they recently made one door at each entry into an accessible door by modifying the bottom rail.   In addition, they have added an International Symbol Accessibility (ISA) as required, although it’s located a little too low.

This picture above on the right depicts how the door bottom on an accessible store front should appear.   You will also notice this door does not have the ISA as required, however, that is a simple correction to make.   You can also see from the photograph that it’s easy for a serial plaintiff to “drive by” and clearly see if your door has the required 10 door bottom without even taking a single measurement.

If the doors into your facility do not have the required 10” door bottom, then you should immediately contact a door contractor to get the door modified to include the required door bottom..

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Does It Take So Long?

Clients often ask me………….why does an ADA Accessibility Field Survey & Report take so long??  In the clients mind you simply need to visit a property, look at a couple of items and do a little writing.   How can it take so long??   The answer to this question varies by property; however, to start I usually explain to clients the tremendous amount of information that must be gathered during an ADA Accessibility Field Survey.

As an example, for every door in the building I must check about 10 separate items.   This list includes, but is not limited to the following:
1.       Width
2.       Height
3.       Threshold
4.       Kickplate
5.       Door Lever
6.       Lever Height
7.       Closing Speed
8.       Push/Pull Force
9.       Strike Edge Clearance ( Interior & Exterior )
10.     Required Signage

For a high rise office building there can easily be 20 to 30 doors per floor with each door taking 10 – 15 minute per door.  This could result in a door survey that takes several hours especially if there are many different types of doors.   And this is just the time necessary to survey the doors.   There are many other items that must be checked during an Accessibility Survey that can also take a number of hours to survey including the toilet rooms where there is an endless list of items that must be checked.

In addition to the field survey, there can be a number of hours spent in the preparation of the data into a format for presentation to the client depending on what type of report the client is requesting.   In California, the “gold standard” is the Certified Access Specialist Report.   This report is the most inclusive and best report for the client; however, it takes a number of hours after the field survey to complete.  Time estimates vary by CASp, but the office time to complete the report is often a multiple of the hours spent in the field.   And in addition, a CASp may need to spend a number of hours in researching a particular issues as the accessibility requirements are general in nature and don’t address specific issues as they relate to a specific property.

All in all, the hours needed to survey and prepare the data for a client can often equal several days for even the smallest project.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Parking Must Be Level

Businesses all over California are being hit by lawsuits for nonconforming accessible parking stalls.   While most of these stalls may appear to be in compliance, most are not and even if the accessible stall is the correct size and has the proper signage, there are still hidden nonconforming conditions on the ground in the form of the accessible parking stall level.   

Accessible parking stalls and the adjacent aisle must be level.   If not, those disabled individuals that use a specialized van can not load and unload via the ramp or hydraulic lift that many of the vans have on the passenger side.   This is a really big issue as it really makes no sense to have an accessible stall with the proper signage that the disabled can not use because they can not get out of their van.

I wrote about this issue in detail in my blog on December 9, 2013 at which time I showed an example of a nonconforming stall and discussed the issues related to stall level and despite my warnings, businesses are continuing to have lawsuits filed against them for accessible parking spaces that are not level.   Drive around town as I do and it’s easy to spot businesses that have received lawsuits………….they have a brand new completely regarded and repaved accessible parking stall.   The photograph above shows just such case. 
Previously the parking lot shown in the photograph had an accessible parking stall at the other end of the parking lot that was not level.   To get this parking space level, the new accessible space needed to be completely regarded and a retaining curb was installed to deal with the grade difference.   Not necessarily the best situation, but always better than a lawsuit.

As many of the ADA lawsuits that my clients receive are for ADA violations in the parking lot, I can not stress enough that accessibility in parking lots must be PERFECT.    Having a parking lot with perfect accessibility is one of the best ways to avoid ADA lawsuits although it’s also important to address ALL of the ADA issues on a property to be completely secure.  Also, please remember when making ADA improvements, you must consult your local building officials as to any permits or approvals that may be required.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Use The Word Handicapped

I was meeting with a client the other day and as we were discussing the improvements that he needed to make to his property, he kept referring to them as handicapped improvements.   After a couple mentions of the word, I explained to him the word handicapped was demeaning to those with disabilities and he should use the word disabled instead of handicapped.

The reason we use the word disabled instead of handicapped is because many individuals in the disabled community do not consider their disability a handicapped.   Many in the disabled community can have completely normal lives despite their disability so to describe them as handicapped would be totally inaccurate.

Using the word disabled instead of handicapped is hard for many of those in the design profession including architects, building officials and contractors because when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first sign into law, many would refer to the improvements as handicapped improvements and as time went on, the word stuck.

Now in 2014, we and I specifically need to make sure we all use the correct nomenclature and refer to individuals as disabled and the improvements that are made for the disabled are referred to as accessibility improvements.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Non-Conforming Detectable Warnings

Detectable Warnings are used to warn someone with limited or no eyesight that they are about to enter a dangerous area such as rail tracks, a vehicular pathway or even a water feature.   These warnings can literally be a life-savor for the blind.

Section 11B-705 of the California Building Code (CBC) details the specific requirements for Detectable Warnings.   Some of the information included in 11B-705 includes horizontal and vertical dimensions for the required domes as well as the horizontal spacing for the domes.  It also states that Detectable Warnings should be of a contrasting color and of a different texture from the surrounding surfaces.   There is even a mathematical formula within the section to determine if the required visual contrast is acceptable.

In addition to requirements for size, color and texture, CBC Section 11B-705.3 states that Detectable Warnings be approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA).   This is important because several years ago, there were several products on the market that did not meet the requirements and deteriorated over time ultimately providing little or no warning to the blind.

The photograph above shows a Detectable Warning that is made out of stamped concrete.   As you can see from the photograph, the domes that warn the blind that they are about to venture into traffic lanes are badly worn and now provide little if any warning for the blind.  In addition, the stamped concrete provides no contrasting color to warn those with limited sight.  This is one of the reasons that Detectable Warnings are to be approved by the Division of the State Architect.  It’s also important to note that because the Detectable Warnings need to be of a type approved by the State Architect, they tend to be a little expensive, but are well worth the added expense as they provide a degree of safety for those individuals with limited or no vision.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Handrails For Ramps

The photograph above shows a recently completed ramp to a newly renovated tenant space.   What’s surprising about this photograph are the handrails on either side of the ramp.   The ADA specifically requires that handrails be located on either side of a ramp and that they be continuous to each end of the ramp.   Why do they need to be continuous??   The answer is simple………many individuals with disabilities are not very steady on their feet and this is especially true when they are walking on inclined surfaces.  As a result, the handrails need to be continuous to allow someone to completely transverse the full length of the ramp while holding onto the handrail.  As you can see from the photograph, the handrail on one side is not continuous and therefore this handrail could be the subject of an ADA lawsuit.

It’s also a requirement of the ADA that rails extend 12” beyond the top and the bottom of the ramp.   This is so that someone with a disability can steady themselves at the top or bottom of the ramp by holding onto the 12” rail extension before they continue on their way.  

It’s also important to note that there is a very specific height range for the top of the handrail and specific dimensions for the diameter of the rail.   In addition and in order to provide stability to wheelchair users, a rail or a curb is also required at the bottom of the handrail as shown in the photograph in order to keep the wheels of the wheelchair from going off the edge of the ramp.

There are also some very specific requirements for the slope of the ramp.   It can not slope over 8.33% and this is considered the maximum slope.   When designing a ramp, it should be designed with the least slope possible as even a ramp that is sloped at 8.33% is difficult for those with disabilities to use.   For the layperson, a slope of 8.33% translates into 12” in length for every 1” in height rise.   For example, if a ramp needs to go up 12” then it would need to be 12’-0” long.   There are also certain issues with regards to landings, etc. that must be addressed when designing a ramp.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eliminating Obstacles


Stairs are a big obstacle for wheelchairs.   If someone must access stairs to get to the main entry door of your facility then you are discriminating against the disabled because they can not enter and utilize the services of your facility as others can.

There are many ways to address this issue and make stairs accessible, but in general, they usually all involve a ramp.   The photograph shown above is one way to address the issue.   As you can see, a ramp has been added to the stairs that still allows the stairs to be utilized while providing a ramp for the disabled.   As a side note, some believe that a portable ramp will work instead of a permanent ramp; however, this is not necessarily true.   Those with disabilities should not be required to wait until an employee can find and install the temporary ramp especially since the ADA has been in effect for over 20 years now.

While ramps offer access to the disabled, it’s important to understand there are many requirements to be satisfied when constructing a ramp.   There are certain dimensions for the height and thickness of the handrail, and there needs to be a based at the bottom of the handrail so a wheelchair will not accidently run off the ramp.   There are also strict guidelines with regards to the slope of the ramp.

One of the issues about ramps that seems to confuse everyone is why the handrail is extended beyond the top and bottom of a ramp.   The answer to this is really very simple.   Many of those with disabilities are able to walk, but they are not very steady of their feet and any change in elevation such as going up a ramp causes them to be even less stable.  The purpose of the extensions at the top and the bottom is to allow someone that is not very stable on their feet to stop on the level surface at the top or bottom and hold on to the rail to stabilize themselves before they continue on their way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ADA Strategies

Last week in a telephone call I was reminded again as to how property and business owners struggle AGAINST the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   In public most will say they support the ADA 100%, but when asked to make improvements to their businesses or properties to accommodate the disabled, many will spend thousands of dollars to “get out of it” instead of making the improvements and while they may be partially successful at “getting out if it”, most do not realize it’s only a temporary solution.

There are many ways businesses get out of making ADA improvements.   Some simply are reactionary and when they get a lawsuit for violations of the ADA they simply make an out of court settlement and consider it the cost of doing business.   This is unfortunate as this strategy does nothing to protect them against further lawsuits.   I have seen businesses get ADA lawsuits 3 and 4 times and each time they pay out several thousands dollars and still have not made any improvements that will prevent future ADA lawsuits.   This quite simply is a loosing strategy.

Another strategy is intentionally ignorance of the law.   I can not tell you how many property and business owners say to me they had no idea they were out of compliance with the ADA.   Along this same theme are owners who choose to only have isolated portions of their properties surveyed by an accessibility professional.   They somehow believe that if they don’t know about all of the violations on their property or in their business then they can claim ignorance of the law.   While not being a lawyer, I can certainly tell you this is not true and ignorance of the law is no a defense against an ADA lawsuits.

A third strategy commonly used by property and business owners is to try and comply, but do so by “cutting corners”.    This usually happens after a lawsuit has been filed and the property or business owner decides to address the issue in the cheapest manner possible.   This often involves blindly making corrections as described in the lawsuit and falsely believing they have fully addressed the problem not realizing that their property or business has several other violations that could and probably will be the subject of a lawsuit in the future. 

Property and business owners need to understand there is no defense for not conforming to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and they should enlist the services of an accessibility professional ( CASp in California ) to help them navigate the often confusing world of accessibility.   Not only does full compliance help to prevent lawsuits, it also increases revenues as there are many in the disabled community who only patronize properties and businesses that are fully compliant with the ADA.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Another Non-Conforming Parking Space

The photograph to the left is another example of a non-conforming accessible parking stall.   To the untrained eye, this accessible space probably seems to be acceptable, but a serial plaintiff driving by will see this accessible space as a good source of money………and they would be correct.

While everyone appreciates the building owner for making the effort, it really diminished the effort with its done incorrectly.   For starters, this is the only accessible space on the property and therefore its required to be a VAN accessible space.  In order to make the accessible space shown in the photograph a van accessible space, the aisle needs to be wider and more importantly, it needs to be located on the passenger side of the parking stall.   

Another violation is the ramp located in the space of the aisle.   There can be no ramps in the aisle and in fact, the parking space AND the aisle should be almost flat with just enough slope to provide for drainage. Instead of locating the ramp in the aisle, a curb ramp such as the one shown in the photograph at the right could be used.    If curb ramp does not work, then a standard ramp could also be used, as long as it’s separate from the accessible parking space or aisle.

Finally, there is no post or wall mounted signage for this parking space.   There should be an International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) along with other assorted signs mounted to the column or a post in front of the parking space.   It should also be noted that I have not measured the size of this parking space, but the overall size of the accessible space is also suspect.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The ADA Is Not Arbitrary

A lot of my clients inquire as why is it a big deal if my ramp is a little too steep or a door is a little too narrow.  Most believe that if they are somewhat in compliance with the ADA, they are O.K. and should not be subject to lawsuits.   Well nothing could be farther from the truth.

Nothing in the ADA is arbitrary.   The ADA was not developed in a vacuum; instead it was developed over years of working with government agencies, disability rights groups and many others to get a document that really does provide assistance to the disabled community.   The requirements of the ADA are based on the actual real life experiences of the disabled community and on what is needed to allow persons with a disability to function normally in society.

Take for example, a ramp that is a little too steep.   Most do not understand how difficult it is for a disabled person to wheel up the slope of a ramp.   It requires a lot of upper body strength that many disabled people do not have and for every degree of extra slope, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a disabled person to get to the top of a ramp.   This is also the reason the ADA specifies the need for a landing on the ramp which gives the disabled person the opportunity to stop on a level surface and take a mini break before proceeding to the top of the ramp.

In regards to the door, wheel chairs are built to a certain dimension and therefore a door opening must be large enough to allow the wheel chair to pass with a little extra clearance on each side.  Failure to provide an opening large enough does not allow a disabled person to enter a facility and could subject the owner or tenant to an ADA lawsuit.

As you can see from the two examples above, the ADA is not arbitrary……………every requirement or dimension has a basis of fact for the disabled community.   Despite this, many of my clients still continue to believe that if they get close to meeting the requirements of the ADA, they will be free from ADA lawsuits, but this is simply not true.   If you do not meet the requirements 100%, then you are subjecting yourself to a future ADA lawsuit.  This is also the reason the property owners and tenants must enlist the services of professionals who KNOW the ADA.  I have seen so many instances where owners have hired contractors to do the work only to find out the contractor did the work incorrectly when they get another lawsuit.   Do not subject yourself to unnecessary lawsuits by not enlist the services of an ADA Professional ( CASp in California ) to advise you on issues related to the ADA.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Non-Conforming Space

The photograph to the right shows another non-conforming parking space.   Previously, this restaurant did not have any accessible parking and then one day this accessible space appeared.  I suspect they have been   It’s obvious from looking at the parking space that someone with no knowledge of the ADA made the improvements. 
involved in an ADA lawsuit.
For starters, while you can certainly see the sign at the head of the space, it’s not reflectorized as required in by the ADA.   In addition, the image of an occupant in a wheel chair is facing the wrong direction.  The good news here is that the sign is required to be a certain minimum size and the sign on the wall far exceeds the minimum size requirements.   There are also other signs that should be included on the wall that are missing.

In regards to the parking space there are also numerous violations.   While the size of the parking stall is in question, there is no question that the aisle is not the proper size for a van accessible space and the aisle is on the wrong side of the space.   Additionally, the emblem of an occupant in a wheel chair is facing the wrong direction and the aisle is missing the signage that should be painted within its boarder.

While it’s impressive the business owner made an attempt to conform to the ADA, its clear there is still no understanding as to the intent of the ADA.   As an example, having a parking stall and aisle that is non-conforming will not allow an accessible van to load and unload its occupant and therefore could be the subject of a lawsuit.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The All Inclusive ADA

During the day I often receive a lot of telephone calls from business owners in trouble.  They have just received a lawsuit citing their non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and they are in a total state of confusion as to how to proceed.  They will usually go on to explain that they have an ADA accessible parking space in front of their facility and their toilet rooms are also accessible so they have no idea as to why they have received a lawsuit for violations of the ADA.

After they explain their situation, I usually ask a few questions such as does your parking lot have a tow away sign mounted at the vehicular entry or does your toilet room have a circle or triangle on the door.   It’s at this point they are usually puzzled as to how to answer the questions.

I then go on to explain to them why these are important and they become totally bewildered.   Further, I go on to ask them questions such as does the front door exceed a push/pull force of 5 lbf and at this point they usually stop me and say they will just pay the plaintiff in an out of court settlement.

Paying a serial plaintiff in an out of court settlement sometimes works, but what business owners don’t understand is that many of the plaintiffs will return in six months or a year with even more violations of the ADA and file another lawsuit.  This is a really common practice for serial plaintiffs as building and business owners really have no idea as to how many violations their facilities actually have.

To further explain, a simple entry door has 17 separate checks that must be made to assure it meets the requirements of the ADA.  These checks include clearances around the door, size of the door, door closing speed to name just a few.   The number of issues that could be the result of an ADA lawsuit is simply mind boggling to many business owners, but it’s just a further indication as to how easy it is for business and property owners to become targets of a lawsuit.

So how can business owners protect their businesses?   The only real way to protect a business is to make sure it’s 100% accessible.   The problem is however that there is no good way to figure out exactly what needs to be done to make a business accessible.   That is why a business MUST enlist the services of an accessibility professional such as a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) in California or an Architect in other states.   A CASp or Architect is someone who can guide businesses in the right direction in their endeavor to fully meet the requirements of the ADA.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Not Just One Violation

I often find parking lots such as the one shown in the photograph at the right where the owners have obviously been involved in an ADA lawsuit.  The indications include bright new blue paint and shinny new post signs, however, what I usually find is that while the building owner now believes they are secure from future lawsuits, they are not.

Serial plaintiffs are very good at what they do.   Often they will perform a complete ADA Survey of a property without anyone knowing.   Their survey will include both the exterior and interior and may include as may as 30 violations, however, when they do file a lawsuit, they often only include 12 of the 30 items.   Why is this……………the answer is simple.   They know that building owners and tenants will only correct items described in the lawsuit and are totally oblivious to other violations that may exist unless they enlist the services of an accessibility professional.

This practice allows the serial plaintiffs to come back again and again and file separate lawsuits at a later date.   I have seen this happen several times.   It is for this reason, that those building owners or tenants who are involved in a lawsuit must enlist the services of accessibility professional and they must address ALL of the violations on the site.

What is not shown in the photograph is that numerous other violations occur on the site including the lack of a tow away sign, designated pathway from the parking to the entry, proximity of the accessible parking to the main entry, incorrect signage on the wheel stop and requiring a disabled person to wheel or walk behind a car that is not their own to name just a few of the many violations.

It is obvious from reviewing this photograph that the building owner did not enlist the services of an accessibility professional because if they had, there would not be the number of violations that I have noted above.   Building owners and tenants must understand that contractors do not have any formal training in the ADA.   As a result, they often make simple mistakes such as those noted above that continue to subject building owners and tenants to lawsuits.   To protect themselves, building owners and tenants are advised to hire an accessibility professional ( a CASp in California ) to survey the property and provide a report on the violations and then hire an Architect to develop construction drawings that can be submitted to the Authorities having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s).   Having plans approved by the AHJ’s for everything but the smallest violations is really the only way for a building owner or tenant to have a reasonable level of protection against future ADA lawsuits.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Warnings for the Blind

Detectable Warnings such as those shown in the photograph above have now become common place, but many facilities still do not have them and therefore are subjecting themselves to a lawsuit.

Some of the problem is that many buildings owners are confused about the use of Detectable Warnings.   This confusion is legitimate because although Detectable Warnings were originally included in the ADA, they were soon suspended so that research could be conducted regarding varying tactile surfaces such as grooves, dimples, etc.   The research found that in many cases those surfaces were in fact not detectable due to similarities to normal walking surfaces.   Finally, in July 2001, the suspension was allowed to expire and Detectable Warnings were again required.

The purpose of Detectable Warnings is warn the sight impaired that they are about to enter a vehicular traffic pathway.   The Detectable Warnings do this in two ways: 1) As opposed to other walking surfaces, they provide a very notable change of surface as someone is walking on them and 2) they are brightly colored so that they are highly visible to those with limited vision.

It should also be noted that the sight impaired usually have a heightened sense of hearing; however, with the new gasoline/electric engines that are much quieter, they are making it very dangerous for those with sight impairments.   Now there is a real possibility that someone with limited sight may actually walk in front of a moving car in a parking lot and get seriously injured, therefore it’s important that buildings owners install Detectable Warnings that are approved by the State of California at vehicular traffic ways to help prevent this from happening.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cross Slope on Accessible Pathways

The ADA requires an accessible pathway from the onsite accessible parking to the main entry door.   The pathway may slope in the direction of travel, however, it must never slope more than 8.33% and the ADA has certain requirements regarding handrails, curbs, etc for ramps.   In addition, the cross-slope (in a direction opposite of the direction of travel) must not exceed 2%.   These are just some of the requirements as there are also requirements for size and location of the accessible pathway to name just a few.

The photograph above shows a pathway violation at a facility that I recently visited.   The accessible pathway marked by the faded blue cross hatched area overlaps the sloped area of a drain.   Anyone can see the overlap is clearly sloped over 2% which is almost flat.   No measurements are necessary to determine the excessive cross slope and therefore this pathway could be the subject of a lawsuit by a serial plaintiff.   In addition, it’s not appropriate to have a disabled person navigate around a drain that may be full of water during a rain storm.

Although not shown in the photograph, another violation of the pathway is that it requires a disabled person in a wheelchair to wheel behind a car that is not their own.   This is dangerous because someone backing out of a parking space may not see a disabled person in a wheelchair behind them.