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Potential ADA Ramp Design Errors

July 31, 2012

In order to provide a safe environment, new construction and facilities undergoing remodeling must follow ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  If these standards are not met, people with disabilities may be limited from accessing these facilities or accidents may occur.  Some common errors that have been identified by The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division can help designers and construction professionals recognize potential hazards during the design phases and help to eliminate them.

Access to the building can be restricted if there is not an accessible route from the parking lot to the entrance.  Providing an ADA ramp for people using scooters, wheelchairs or walkers will provide a safe way to reach the building entrance.  If there is no such ramp installed, they may be forced to use the road or the driving lanes of the parking lot, creating the potential for accidents.

Curb ramps also can create potential problems.  ADA ramps located in this area must have flared sides where the maximum slope is 1:10.  If the slope is higher or the sides of the ramp are not flared, people may trip and be seriously injured.  A non compliant ADA ramp may also cause injuries for people using scooters and wheelchairs; they may be injured if they fall off the sides of the ramp.  If side flares are not possible for the ramp, guardrails must be in place to provide protection against falls and offer something to grip if a fall occurs or to help regain balance.

For landing areas of ADA ramps, enough surface area must be provided for a wheelchair to turn.  If this surface is too small or is not level, wheelchairs may not be able to change direction with the ramp and cannot access the building.  The minimum size recommended for ADA ramp landings is 60” x 60”.  This should provide enough surface area for a wheel chair to turn comfortably in order to access the building.

Ramps also must not have an extreme slope.  Ramps that offer too much of a slope can be dangerous and cause wheelchair users to lose control when going down the ramp.  Users may not be able to go up the ramp either if there are no handrails or guardrails installed to help them climb.  Steeply sloped ramps without handrails may also cause people with crutches, walkers or other types of supports to possibly fall off the sides if they have limited mobility.  The slope of a compliant ADA ramp should be no higher than 1:20; any higher than this and the ramp can cause accidents and injuries.

Adding a slip resistant surface to an ADA ramp can help to increase the safety offered to disabled patrons, employees and anyone who comes into contact with the ramp.  SlipNOT® manufactures an all metal surface that can be applied to an ADA ramp to increase slip resistance and traction in wet or

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