ADA and Children

Posted on - Thursday, October 21st, 2010

In keeping with the theme of my past two posts, children are now part of the ADA.  In the 1991 version of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, did not have any provisions for children.  So even though facilities were accessible to different disabilities, there were still barriers for children.
In 1994 Texas adopted the Texas Accessibility Standards and added an entire section just for children.  Section 2 of TAS shows how high drinking fountains, water closets, lavatories and grab bars need to be mounted…among other things.  So for the past 16 years, Texas has been designing for children with disabilities.

Now the 2004 ADAAG has several places throughout the standards that gives you specific requirement for children.  The ADA Companion Guide shows examples and gives commentary on how the guidelines came to adopt the children’s requirements.
Section 102 tells us:
“The technical requirements are based on adult dimensions and anthropometrics. In addition, this document includes technical requirements based on children’s dimensions and anthropometrics for drinking fountains, water closets, toilet compartments, lavatories and sinks, dining surfaces, and work surfaces.”

New items that are also scoped for children, is play areas!  Now instead of just requiring an accessible route up to the equipment, the components within the play area will have to comply.  The requirements are lengthy, so we will be more specific in a different post.

Amusement rides are required to be accessible, but there is an exception 234.3 Exception 2 that states if rides are designed for children where adults put them on or take them off do not have to have a separate accessible loading area. But of course, it can be done, as we saw on my last post about Morgan’s Wonderland where all can ride indepently.

Besides the scoping for what is required to comply, we also have reach ranges specific for children. Section 308 has a table just for children’s reach ranges.

Drinking fountain requirements for children are found in chapter 6 602.2 Exception which says that children don’t have to have a knee space, but can use a parallel approach for the drinking fountain.  The spout must be at 30″ a.f.f. and 3 1/2″ max from the front edge.

Water closets, toilet compartments, grab bars and dispenser heights for children are found in Section 604.9 and there is a table that we use according to the different age groups.

Section 606 Lavatories and Sinks states that a knee clearance of 24″ min. a.f.f. under a sink for children 6-12 is required.  Rim or counter shall be 31″ maximum high.  And children five years old and younger can have a parallel approach.

So when the new ADA is required (March 15, 2012) children will be counted and will be given similar standards than the adults.  Just like the old standards gave more independence and dignity to the adults with disabilities, the new guidelines now give more independence and dignity to our disabled children!