accessible routes

Clear Widths Along an Accessible Route

Friday, January 3rd, 2020
As most of us know, the minimum clear widths along an accessible route that the ADA requires are 36″ minimum clear.  But there are times when are allowed to be narrower or required to be wider.  This newsletter will explain those instances.

Clear Width Reduction

 

In the 2010 ADA guidelines, section 403 gives us a figure to follow which explains that the 36″ wide clear width can be reduced to 32″ clear as long as the distance that you travel through the narrower width is no more than 24″ deep.
403.5.1 Clear Width. Except as provided in 403.5.2 and 403.5.3, the clear width of walking surfaces shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum.
 
EXCEPTION: The clear width shall be permitted to be reduced to 32 inches (815 mm) minimum for  a length of 24 inches (610 mm) maximum provided that reduced width segments are separated by  segments that are 48 inches (1220 mm) long minimum and 36 inches (915 mm) wide minimum.

But do both sides of the path need to be 24″ long the way it is shown in the figure above?  Could one side be a wall or even a longer cabinet or obstruction?  I was inspecting a restroom and found that condition.  There was a cased opening to enter the toilet compartment area.  One side of the cased opening was 8″ deep and the other side was the restroom wall which was longer than 24″.

This is the photo of the cased opening along the route to the sinks
This is the plan of the cased opening (where it says “Align”) which part of it is 8″ on one side and longer than 24″ on the other side. The opening was less than 36″ wide.
The guidelines allow this.  As long as one side of the path is no more than 24″ long and it goes back to 36″ wide, it will be an acceptable condition.

Clear width at the approach to a toilet compartment

 

A clear path to a toilet compartment (both wheelchair and ambulatory) should  also have a  36″ minimum clear width.  Except that at the approach to the door it must increase to 42″ in width
604.8.1.2 Doors. Toilet compartment doors, including door hardware, shall comply with 404 except that if the approach is to the latch side of the compartment door, clearance between the door side of the compartment and any obstruction shall be 42 inches (1065 mm) minimum

The standard is giving us requirements for the door clearance only.  The path to the toilet compartment is still required to have a 36″ minimum clear width.  But the space to open the toilet compartment door and the  maneuvering clearance (if the approach is on the latch side) must have a  42″ minimum clear width between the door and the obstruction


This photo shows the plan view of a path to the ambulatory toilet compartment.

In the plan view above you can see a furred out column in front of the toilet compartments.  That fur out is located within the door maneuvering clearance of the ambulatory toilet compartment and it reduces the 42″ required width to 36″

This figure above shows the door maneuvering clearance at the latch side approach.  A toilet compartment door will only require 42″ of clear width not 48″ like a standard door.

Passing space

 

Along an accessible route you are required to have 36″ clear width.  This width is required to be widened to 60″ every 200 feet.  This is to allow people in wheelchairs and pedestrians to pass each other.
403.5.3 Passing Spaces. An accessible route with a clear width less than 60 inches (1525 mm) shall provide passing spaces at intervals of 200 feet (61 m) maximum. Passing spaces shall be either: a space 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum by 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum; or, an intersection of two walking surfaces providing a T-shaped space complying with 304.3.2 where the base and arms of the T-shaped space extend 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum beyond the intersection
Here is a video from the Access Board that explains it

Clear width at turns

 

When a wheelchair makes a ninety degree turn, a 36″ minimum clear width is allowed.

But when a wheelchair is required to make a 180 degree turn, like in a narrow corridor, or maybe in a queue line or library stacks, then the width will have to increase from 36″ to 42″ depending on what size the element they are turning around is.

403.5.2 Clear Width at Turn. Where the accessible route makes a 180 degree turn around an  element which is less than 48 inches (1220 mm) wide, clear width shall be 42 inches (1065 mm)  minimum approaching the turn, 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum at the turn and 42 inches (1065 mm) minimum leaving the turn.
 
EXCEPTION: Where the clear width at the turn is 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum compliance with  403.5.2 shall not be required.
For instance if the space that they are turning around is 60″ in depth, then the clear width can be 36″ min.  If the space is 48″, then the clear width will have to increase to 42″
This video will give you some guidance on turning and wheelchair clearances

 

About the ADA and TAS. What you might not know?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019
After almost 20 years in my business I am still learning things about the ADA and TAS.  I want to share with you some things that might not be so apparent when you read the standards.

Location of Work Surface in a Residential Kitchen

When designing a residential kitchen that will be used by the public (e.g. a an assisted living resident room, a kitchen in an emergency personnel facility, an apartment for a resident hall director or RA etc.) the appliances that you choose will have to be compliant with the ADA and TAS.   One of the requirements is typically missed or overlooked.  It is the one pertaining to a work surface in a “residential kitchen”.
804.3 Kitchen Work Surface. In residential dwelling units required to comply with 809, at least one 30 inches (760 mm) wide minimum section of counter shall provide a kitchen work surface that complies with 804.3
804.6.5.1 Side-Hinged Door Ovens. Side-hinged door ovens shall have the work surface required by 804.3 positioned adjacent to the latch side of the oven door.
804.6.5.2 Bottom-Hinged Door Ovens. Bottom-hinged door ovens shall have the work surface required by 804.3 positioned adjacent to one side of the door.
 
Where a work surface is required and the kitchen has an oven, the work surface needs to be located adjacent the oven.

 

Keep in mind, this only applies to “residential” kitchens….not all kitchens.  So a break room or common use kitchen not located in a residential dwelling unit (as defined by the ADA) does not require a work surface.

Clearance vs. Clear Floor Space

There are two concepts that are sometimes thought to be interchangeable in the ADA and TAS:  “Clearance” and “Clear Floor Space”.  Section 305 lists the requirements for “Clear floor space” .  Clear floor space is required adjacent beds, under counters, lavatories, sinks, at operable parts for reaching, inside platform lifts, at drinking fountains, at toilet room fixtures, at washer and dryers, at saunas and steam rooms, at ATM, at signage, at work surfaces, at jury boxes and adjacent exercise equipment.

Some of the requirements are listed below from Section 305:

305.2 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of a clear floor or ground space shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted.

EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.

305.3 Size. The clear floor or ground space shall be 30 inches (760 mm) minimum by 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum.

 

Any time that the words “clear floor space” is found in the Standards these are the requirements that must be followed.  Some of those instances will be at the clear floor space to reach objects, a clear floor space at wheelchair seating in assembly areas or clear floor space at toilet rooms.

A clear floor space is required at the push button. The clear floor space needs to have a slope no steeper than 1:48 . This clear floor space is steeper.

Clearance

What sometimes gets conflated are the “clearance” at plumbing fixtures like toilets, showers and tubs. “Clear floor space” is defined, but “clearance” is not….except to describe its size and location.

608.2.2.1 Clearance [at roll in showers]. A 30 inch (760 mm) wide minimum by 60 inch (1525 mm) long minimum clearance shall be provided adjacent to the open face of the shower compartment.
 

The clearance is mentioned to let us know what size we need to provide and where it should be located…but it does not mention slope.

Unlike the clear floor space where a slope cannot exceed 1:48, a clearance at the shower for example is not defined.  So the clearance at the roll in shower can have a slope that exceeds 1:48
 
This roll in shower has a slope up to the shower pan which is acceptable (although may not be recommended)

Platform Lifts and Accessible Routes

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Connection Between Levels

The ADA requires that different levels and floors within a facility be connected by an accessible route.  An accessible route is a continuous and unobstructed way to travel from any point in a building or facility.  Some ways to achieve an accessible route is through ramps or elevators.  A method that is confusing is the use of a platform lift, wheelchair lift or chair lift.  Those, even though they help to achieve access in some cases, are not always allowed as part of an accessible route.  This newsletter will explain when they are allowed and when they are not.

Existing Buildings

New Construction

But in new construction projects, you are only allowed the use of platform lifts in certain situations.  Here are the only circumstances where you can use them as part of an accessible route:

206.7.1 Performance Areas and Speakers’ Platforms

206.7.2 Wheelchair Spaces: Platform lifts shall be permitted to provide an accessible route to comply with the wheelchair space dispersion and line-of-sight requirements

206.7.3 Incidental Spaces which are not public use spaces and which are occupied by five persons maximum.

206.7.4 Judicial Spaces: Platform lifts shall be permitted to provide an accessible route to: jury boxes and witness stands; raised courtroom stations including, judges’ benches, clerks’ stations, bailiffs’ stations, deputy clerks’ stations, and court reporters’ stations; and to depressed areas such as the well of a court.

206.7.5 Existing Site Constraints: Platform lifts shall be permitted where existing exterior site constraints make use of a ramp or elevator technically infeasible.

When you see the word “technically infeasible”, you may need permission (variance) from the State agency with jurisdiction of the Standards

206.7.6 Guest Rooms and Residential Dwelling Units:  Platform lifts shall be permitted to connect levels within transient lodging guest rooms required to provide mobility features or residential dwelling units required to provide mobility features

206.7.7 Amusement Rides. Platform lifts shall be permitted to provide accessible routes to load and unload areas serving amusement rides.

206.7.8 Play Areas. Platform lifts shall be permitted to provide accessible routes to play components or soft contained play structures.


206.7.9 Team or Player Seating. Platform lifts shall be permitted to provide accessible routes to team or player seating areas serving areas of sport activity.


206.7.10 Recreational Boating Facilities and Fishing Piers and Platforms. Platform lifts shall be permitted to be used instead of gangways that are part of accessible routes serving recreational boating facilities and fishing piers and platforms.

And as part of an accessible means of egress as mentioned in 207.2

207.2 Platform Lifts. Standby power shall be provided for platform lifts permitted by section 1003.2.13.4 of the International Building Code (2000 edition and 2001 Supplement) or section 1007.5 of the International Building Code (2003 edition) (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards” in Chapter 1) to serve as a part of an accessible means of egress

 

What constitutes a platform lift?


The scoping section of the 2010 ADA mentions platform lifts.  But what about chair lifts?  Are they allowed?  what is the difference?

According to the technical standards 410

410.1 General. Platform lifts shall comply with ASME A18.1 (1999 edition or 2003 edition) (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards” in Chapter 1). Platform lifts shall not be attendant-operated and shall provide unassisted entry and exit from the lift.

ASME A18.1-1999 and ASME A18.1-2003 address the design, construction, installation, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance and repair of lifts that are intended for transportation of persons with disabilities. 

Lifts are classified as: vertical platform lifts, inclined platform lifts, inclined stairway chairlifts, private residence vertical platform lifts, private residence inclined platform lifts, and privateresidence inclined stairway chairlifts.

This document [The 2010 ADA Standards] does not permit the use of inclined stairway chairlifts which do not provide platforms because such lifts require the user to transfer to a seat.

This type of lift is not reccommended

The advisory explains the different types:

Inclined stairway chairlifts and inclined and vertical platform lifts are
available for short-distance vertical transportation. Because an accessible route requires an 80 inch(2030 mm) vertical clearance, care should be taken in
selecting lifts as they may not be equally suitable for use by people using wheelchairs and people standing. If a lift does not provide 80 inch (2030 mm) vertical clearance, it cannot be considered part of an accessible route in new construction.


The ADA and other Federal civil rights laws require that accessible features be maintained in working order so that they are accessible to and usable by those people they are intended to benefit. Building owners are reminded that the ASME A18 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts requires routine maintenance and inspections. Isolated or temporary interruptions in service due to maintenance or repairs may be unavoidable; however, failure to take prompt action to effect repairs could constitute a violation of Federal laws and these requirements.

In summary, if the inclined chair lift meets the requirements of the ASME A18.1 then they can be used instead of a platform lift where they are allowed.