Barriers to access in recently constructed buildings … it’s a reality.

“My property is only five years old!  What do you mean it has barriers to access?”  I hear this more than I would like, unfortunately.  While it‘s easy to imagine that barriers to access would be found on older properties that haven’t had upgrades in, say, twenty years or more, we continue to see barriers on newly built properties that are only three to five years old?

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hear someone say “You wont find any barriers on my property! It just got built and the building inspector signed me off”.  While I want to believe them, I know better.  I’m out there every day inspecting properties, and I find some of the same problems on new properties as I do on 30-year old facilities.

Here is a short list of the most common interior and  exterior barriers I see on almost every property I look at regardless of age.

Common exterior barriers that create issues:

1. Lack of/ non-compliant  “Off Site” path of travel from the public sidewalk to the main accessible entrances to the facility.
Solution:  Create and define a clear path of travel so the common public can shop at your store or access your building.  Simple directional signage, repairing cracked and broken concrete or asphalt, stripe cross-walks.

2. Improper ratio and non-compliant disabled parking provided. Striping and signage issues are very common.
Solution:  Count your stalls and confirm the correct number of van stalls are provided. Check that striping and signage is clear and viewable from drive aisle passing cars.

3. Surface slope issues within the disabled stall and loading zone area are more than two percent.  This is very common.
Solution:  Check the surface slope and condition. Nothing over 2% (percent —not 2 degrees) in all directions.  No ramps protruding into loading zone.

4. Pedestrian / Curb ramps with excessive surface slope and improper landings.
Solution:   Nothing over 8.3% (percent) run and 2% (percent) cross slope allowed. All ramping is done within the walkway or landscape areas and not into loading zones.  Level top, bottom and change of direction landings 2% (percent) max and proper size.  Clear vendor products, pallets, vending machines and seasonal displayed product away.

5.  Accessible entrance with excessive door landing, operating pounds of pressure greater than 5 lbs, and lack of ISA and EXIT signs.
Solution:  Main accessible entry door landing must be clear, level and stable. Door must be easy to open and enter displaying the required ISA symbol. 60” x 60” minimum landing at 2% required.

Common interior barriers that create issues:

1.  Floor mats and throw rugs not secured or recessed.
Solution:  Floor mats must be low profile with no greater than ¼” (one quarter) vertical rise edge. Non-slip backing or double sided tape. No double stacking mat on carpet.

2.  Congested path of travel in crucial areas reduced below 36” wide.
Solution:  Eliminate protruding objects due to end of aisle display, rack hanger advertisements or coupons.

3.  Accessible sales counter and POS (point of sale) at maximum 48” blocked by product/ not open/ set above 34”
Solution:  Confirm the number or quantity of accessible sales or check-out counters required. Minimum 5%, check height, width and depth of counter. 34” max tall, 36” wide and full depth. Clear floor and counter clear space.

4.  Reach ranges of common product/ directional signage missing.
Solution:  Arrange product display to allow the greatest vertical reach options. If product is only up high then provide signage that alerts disabled that assistance is provided.

5.  Customer Restrooms lacking proper door signage/ door operating pressure/ door hardware/ lack of clear space due to product storage. Placement of the seat protector dispenser above the rear grab bar and the bottom of the mirror is above 40”.
Solution:  Install wall & door signage at 60” AFF, adjust pressure to 5 lbs max with lever type hardware. Remove unnecessary furniture to provide 60” turning radius, lower mirror, soap, seat protector dispenser & paper towel dispenser to 40” above floor surface; add grab bars, toilet flush handle on wide side.

Believe it or not it is easier than you may think to remove up to 80% of barriers that affect all disabled persons with very little cost. Use the list provided and tour your facility.  Removing barriers to access will benefit you in many ways  including increased access for customers and in compliance with ADA law.

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