Anytime you are thinking about constructing a public building, you have to consider access for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits any kind of discrimination in this regard, and not following its regulations can lead to both friction with your audience and significant legal issues.
For construction projects, the ADA is especially significant as it relates to ramps. Stairs to enter your building are simply not enough to accommodate people with disabilities. But how do you make sure you stay within the regulation? How can you embark on a project that will succeed and work well for all people who might enter your building? Here are 3 things you need to know about ADA-compliant ramps in your construction.
1) Your Audience Does Not Matter
It may seem counter intuitive to talk about your audience not mattering when it comes to ADA compliance. But think about it the other way around: in your construction project, don’t think you don’t need to be compliant just because your audience consists of non-disabled persons.
The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to all public buildings, regardless of their audience. Even if you run a fitness gym, you will have to comply with the law. Never assume that because your new building will only attract a certain type of clientele, you won’t be held accountable if others cannot enter it.
2) Know the Specifications
Of course, knowing exactly how you can construct your ramp is a crucial part of compliance. Beyond that, it can even influence how exactly you lay out your building; a ramp may take up space that you had not considered. Here are some of the ADA ramp specifications you will have to follow:
- Any ramp needs to rise at no more than one inch for each foot of the ramp. In technical terms, that means a 4.8 slope at most, which allows any type of wheelchair to drive up the ramp comfortably.
- The top and bottom of the ramp should have a flat platform that is at least 5 by 5 feet wide. This allows people with disabilities to comfortably turn and maneuver before and after the ramp.
- Nationwide standards require a ramp width of at least 36 inches. However, you should also look into your state regulations; California and Massachusetts, for example, require a 48 inch width.
- Don’t make your ramps too long. Every 30 feet (or sooner), provide a platform similar to the ones at the top and bottom of your ramp to allow for rest and maneuverability as necessary.
- Include hand rails which should be between 34 and 38 inches high for maximum comfort and accessibility. These rails need to be present on both sides of the ramp.
3) Working With Professionals is Never a Bad Idea
Given these very specific necessities for building ADA-compliant handrails, including them into your construction project can seem like a headache. That’s not the case, however, if you work with professionals who know the process and who can help you plan in the ramps from the very beginning.
ADA ramps, which will typically exist on the outside of your building, will impact the way you design and construct your new building. Working with professionals allows you to keep track of this component and implement it in the course of the construction without issue, allowing you to rest easy knowing that the finished project will be accessible for all persons and compliant with all laws.
Are you looking to embark on a construction project in the near future? If so, you absolutely have to keep ADA compliance in mind. To learn more about our services, and how we can help you construct a building that everyone can access, contact us.