American School & University,
July 1993 v65 n11 p40(2)
Brief Summary: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires educational facilities to comply with Title II provisions. A test quiz is provided to enable school facility managers and others to determine their knowledge of required accessibility features.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT North American Publishing Company 1993 THE AMERICANS WITH Disabilities Act (ADA) is regarded by some as the Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities. Educational facilities that are operated by state and local governments must comply with the ADA's Title II provisions.
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) developed the ADA's accessibility guidelines (ADAAG) as the standard for all new construction of public accommodation facilities operated by private entities and, where readily achievable, for making modifications in existing buildings. One problem with implementing ADAAG so far has been the fact that it incorporates many features that differ from past regulations, such as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), as well as many state and local building codes.
To test your knowledge of the most sweeping civil rights legislation implemented in the U.S. in more than two decades, try the following quiz. (Hint: if you don't know the specific measurement for a building element, do what the ATBCB did--determine through logic and deduction what the measurement should be in order to provide the maximum degree of convenient accessibility for people with disabilities.)
Interpreting the language
In complying with the ADA, schools and universities need to identify the most efficient means of providing access and diminish the threat of litigation.
The law states that public accommodations must remove architectural barriers and communication barriers that are structural in nature in existing facilities, when it is readily achievable to do so. To be more specific:
* Physical barriers. Temporary or movable structures, such as furniture, equipment and display racks, can create barriers. However, the ADA does not require a public accommodation to arrange temporary or movable structures if a significant loss of selling or servicing space results.
Barriers that hamper physical access to and within assembly areas, such as theaters, lecture halls and conference rooms with fixed seating, are also required to be removed.
* Communication barriers structural in nature. This includes permanent signage and alarm systems, and the presence of physical partitions that hamper the passage of sound waves. Inadequate sound buffers are also communication barriers.
* Readily achievable. This means "easily accomplishable or able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense." A determination of what is readily achievable will depend on the circumstances of the public accommodation involved.
The ADA established different standards for existing facilities and new construction. In existing facilities, where retrofit may be expensive, the requirement to provide access is less stringent than it is in new construction and alterations, where accessibility can be incorporated in the initial stages of design and construction without a significant increase in cost.
Barrier removal measures
There are many modest measures that may be taken to remove barriers and that are likely to be readily achievable:
* Install ramps.
* Make curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances.
* Reposition shelves.
* Rearrange tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks and other furniture.
* Add raised markings on elevator control buttons.
* Install flashing alarm lights.
* Widen doors and install accessible door hardware.
* Install grab bars in toilet stalls.
* Create designated accessible parking spaces.
Whether any of these measures are readily achievable is determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the particular circumstances presented and the factors listed in the definition of readily achievable.
Source: "What You Ought to Know About the ADA," Commerce Clearing House, Chicago, IL.
Match each of the building accessibility features listed below with its correct corresponding measurement, according to the ADAAG standards (Place the letter in the appropriate space):
1 _____ Minimum length of cord from a public pay telephone to its handset.
2 _____ Minimum clear width of an accessible route in a library.
3 _____ Minimum height of the lowest reflecting edge of a mirror in a student center restroom.
4 _____ Minimum width for clearance at a classroom door.
5 _____ Height above the floor at which to hang signage with raised lettering and Grade 2 Braille for marking permanent rooms and spaces (measured from the center line of the sign).
6 _____ Minimum distance below the ceiling at which a visual fire alarm must be hung to prevent concealment by smoke.
7 _____ Maximum height for unobstructed forward approach to controls and operating mechanisms (such as light switches and thermostats) in a residence hall room.
8 _____ Maximum height of a toilet seat in an accessible restroom stall.
9 _____ Minimum height of a toilet seat in an accessible restroom stall.
10 _____ Minimum height of the trajectory of water from an accessible drinking fountain in a school hallway.
11 _____ Minimum height for a wall-mounted electrical receptacle in a residence hall room.
12 _____ Minimum height of characters (letters) on informational or directional signs when hung overhead in a library.
13 _____ Maximum height of an accessible table or counter in a school cafeteria.
14 _____ Maximum height of raised lettering on signs marking permanent rooms and spaces.
15 _____ Minimum height of knee clearance under an accessible restroom sink.
16 _____ Minimum width of knee clearance under an accessible restroom sink.
17 _____ Maximum depth of an accessible sink in a residence hall room.
18 _____ Maximum height of the lowest shelf of a medicine cabinet in a residence hall room.
19 _____ Maximum height of the threshold for an exterior sliding door leading to a balcony.
20 _____ Maximum height of the threshold for all doors, other than exterior sliding doors, in a school.
21 _____ Maximum height of elevator emergency controls (when measured from the center line of the controls to the finish floor) in a university building.
22 _____ Minimum height of elevator hall lanterns above the lobby floor in a university medical center.
23 _____ Minimum clear space between stair handrails and the adjoining wall in a private college.
24 _____ Minimum width of stair treads, measured from riser to riser, on an administrative building's staircase.
25 _____ Minimum clear head room for corridors, aisles and walkways in a university museum.
26 _____ Minimum depth of an accessible standard toilet stall with a wall-mounted water closet in a university stadium restroom.
27 _____ Minimum depth of an accessible standard toilet stall with a floor-mounted water closet in a library restroom.
28 _____ Minimum toe clearance underneath the front (and at least one side) partition in a standard toilet stall in a student center restroom.
29 _____ Minimum width of clear ground space provided for wheelchair seating in assembly areas.
30 _____ Minimum width of a full-length mirror hung in a university clothing store's dressing or fitting room.
Tabulating your score:
* 26-30 Correct answers: Congratulations, you are an ADAAG expert and should be eligible for appointment to fill the next vacancy on the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
* 21-25 Correct answers: Not too bad, but you should carefully review ADAAG because you have missed some critical points essential to providing accessible educational rooms and spaces. Be sure to pay special attention to those sections of ADAAG printed in italics, which indicate areas where ADAAG differs from ANSI's document A117.1-1980.
* 16-20 Correct answers: You are in danger of becoming an academic architectural accessibility fossil.
* 11-15 Correct answers: You should do three things immediately--get a copy of ADAAG today; read ADAAG twice from cover to cover tonight; and cancel any plans you may have had on receiving this year's "Educational Building Designer of the Year" award.
* 10 or less Correct answers: You have earned an honorary lifetime membership in the Society of Anachronistic Designers (SAD), which is dedicated to the preservation of accessibility barriers everywhere, and will be contacted soon to confirm your willingness to deliver the keynote address at the next annual conference. Your topic will be: "Strategies to Block Access to Educational Facilities for Just About Everybody."