ADA Compliance

Public Areas that Need to Be ADA Compliant

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expects workplaces and public areas to be accessible for people with disabilities. Since 1990, businesses and communities strive to meet these requirements. For example, public areas must take steps to remove barriers and add domed-tile curb ramps to improve accessibility and safety for people with impairments. Buildings constructed before 1990 must make adjustments, but buildings built after 1990 must be ADA compliant. Some public areas that must be accessible to all include shopping plazas, courtrooms, theaters, government offices, public restrooms, apartment complexes, and commercial facilities.

ADA Guidelines for Public Areas

Title III of the ADA outlines the standards for public areas for people with disabilities. For example, restaurants and hotels must accommodate people with impairments by adapting their facilities or by providing extra assistance and communication. Title III sets the rules for building alterations and new construction. Almost every business that serves the public in some way is required to follow the ADA guidelines of Title III. Here is a list of public areas that should be ADA compliant:

Public Areas that Should be ADA Compliant:

  1. Shops, stores, and shopping malls
  2. Restaurants, eateries, and bars
  3. Service establishments
  4. Cinemas, theaters, and hotels
  5. Private schools and museums
  6. Doctor offices

While every business that serves the public must comply to the ADA, some establishments such as private clubs or religious organizations are considered exempt. Warehouses and commercial facilities that existed before the enactment of the ADA that do not directly serve the public must only comply with the ADA for new construction or alterations.

Practicing ADA Accessibility in Public Areas

Public areas must be accessible to people with disabilities. Naturally, cities are limited by their budgets. However, reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate people with disabilities. While the ADA strives to ensure accessibility for all, it also makes allowances for businesses that may not be able to immediately shoulder the cost of altering their building for wheelchair accessibility. However, a business with the ability to become ADA compliant should do so in a timely manner.

How to Become Accessible

Here’s a list of ways that businesses and public areas can become accessible:

Adjusting Walkways

  1. Add curb cuts to sidewalks and entrances
  2. Include domed-tiles on ramps and staircases
  3. Build ramps
  4. Remove high pile carpets

Public Sidewalk Options

  1. Add detectable warnings to intersection corners
  2. Denote the transition from a safe walking path to road
  3. Create midway islands on large thoroughfares for waiting between signals

Altering Buildings

  1. Rearrange furniture to create more space for wheelchairs
  2. Widen doorways
  3. Change door hardware to be more easily used
  4. Create more space between bathroom partitions

4 ADA Rules of Thumb for Becoming Accessible

While ADA doesn’t always spell out exactly what public areas should do to become ADA compliant, the act does outline four priorities. Use the list as a measure for determining whether a business or public area lines up with the law.

1. Accessibility to public areas

People should be able to access places of public accommodation from a parking lot, public transportation, or the sidewalk. This may mean adding an entrance ramp or parking specifically for people with impairments.

2. Making services accessible

Consider how to make a space more accessible to everyone by changing the layout of the display racks. Add Braille signs. Provide options for assistance, such as an employee who will accompany the person with impairments through the process.

3. Public restroom accessibility

Restrooms need to be easy to navigate for people with impairments, whether that means widening doorways or adding a larger stall with handlebars. Be sure that one sink and towel dispenser is easy to reach for people who may use a wheelchair.

4. Other measures for making space accessible

Have your business evaluated by an ADA expert to determine how to make your space accessible to everyone. It can be difficult to know where you may need to take steps without a knowledgeable perspective. ADA compliance in public areas is crucial to business success as well as being compliant with the law. Adding dome-tiles to your walkways and stairways help meet that requirement. If you’d like to speak with our Customer Service Department, please contact us today at"

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