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.