Ask the Expert (ADA Compliance)

How can we achieve ADA compliance?

When looking at meeting ADA requirements most only think of wheelchair accessibility. This is only part of the equation. We must also make accommodations for those with vision, hearing or speech disabilities. Here are five items to consider for ADA compliance when creating or improving your learning spaces.

1. Ensure proper spacing between walls and fixed furniture; typically, 60 inches in most cases.

2. Consider tables or instructors’ stations that can provide both the proper height and knee clearance: 30 inches wide by 19 inches deep by 27 inches high. If looking at adjustable height, consider electric lift systems rather than crank or pneumatic as they can be controlled with no effort from the user.

3. Review areas of reach on walls and fixtures.
a) Height reach restriction: 15 inches (minimum) and 48 inches (maximum) from floor.
b) Unobstructed forward reach: 20-25 inches deep (maximum, height restriction of 48 inches).
c) Obstructed side and forward reach: 10-24 inches deep (maximum, obstruction 34 inches maximum).

4. Items protruding from a wall that are between 27 inches to 80 inches high can be no more than 4 inches deep from the wall. This includes monitors and screens. Items below 27 inches can be identified with a cane.

5. Ensure that you have assistive listening devices, and proper line of sight for visual aids. Also check whether the technology you are using can help support those with hearing disabilities.

Achieving ADA compliance can add benefits such as improved ergonomics, along with providing the optimal learning environment for students and instructors. It may seem like a daunting task but there are many resources available. We always recommend reviewing ADA guidelines regularly to check for updates or changes.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Ben Jones is the national sales manager for Spectrum Industries, Inc. (www.spectrumfurniture.com). He can be reached at bjones@spectrumfurniture.com or 407/242-6256.

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