and ADA Compliance: A Tour of Considerations When Renovating Existing
or Building New Residence Halls
By Jeffrey Horowitz,
Assistant Director of Residential Life
ADA codes and the needs of individuals with disabilities is of critical
and legal importance when renovating existing or constructing new residence
As a starting
point, lets review the legal aspects of the American Disabilities
Acts and a universitys responsibility per the code. This article
will also provide a guided educational tour on important considerations
as they relate to accessibility issues in your residence halls.
of ADA Title II (government agencies) and Title III (public accommodations):
states that, No individual with a disability shall, by reason of
such disability be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits
of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity (or place
of public accommodation), or be subjected to discrimination by any such
entity 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 precludes discrimination by programs
receiving federal financial assistance
these codes, I have listed just a few facilities and programmatic issues
that campuses need to generally consider when accommodating a person with
formats on syllabi and materials (program challenge)
notice of tests (program challenge)
teaching sites and methods (program challenge)
of assistive technology (both facility and program challenge)
time on assignments (program challenge)
room adjustments (both facility and program challenge)
Note takers and tape recording
Copies of lecture notes and overheads
Sign Language interpreters
and TDDs (Facility challenge)
Adjustments/Barrier removals (Facility challenge)
accessibility should be of critical importance to staff working in housing
operations. Lets spend time considering the components that you
need to consider in evaluating whether your residence halls are assessable,
and in making appropriate changes.
Guided Educational Tour: Lets take a look
features determine whether a disabled person can approach a building?
slope at curb cut generally cant exceed 1:12 grade
sides (markings on the round to identify when a slope is going to begin)
are required where travel is two-way, maximum slope at sides generally
cant exceed 1:10 grade.
warnings should be provided at the start of slopes.
cuts should be aligned with pavement markings at road crossing.
makes a parking lot space accessible?
- It is
located close to the building entrance.
location of accessible spaces should be clearly identified.
striping is marked via a different paint color.
signage is provided.
are a minimum of 8 feet wide.
spaces have an access aisle that is at a minimum 5 feet wide and 8 feet
wide for van parking.
access aisle is clearly identified.
makes the main entrance of a building accessible?
- A level
approach without steps is the best.
to popular belief, historic buildings may already comply.
steps are unavoidable, they should have handrails so they are accessible
to person with visual & mobility impairments.
must be continuous for the entire length of the ramp.
must extend 12 inches beyond the top & bottom of the ramp.
makes the doorway itself accessible?
- A clear
level space of at least 48 inches between sets of doors.
door itself is at least 36 inches wide.
that can be operated by simple hand motions.
- A clear
level space from 42 to 60 inches in front of the door, depending on
the direction of approach & the door swing.
- If the
door is on a timer you need at least 15 seconds for it to remain open
for someone to pass through.
makes a corridor accessible?
- Is it
wide enough for: One way traffic? Two way traffic?
there protruding objects 27 inches or more above the floor?
older buildings have sunken lounges in their halls or a couple of steps
to another level. If this is the case, what should you do?
- A solution
to providing accessibility to sunken spaces includes platform lifts.
must comply with codes as well.
must allow for unassisted operation.
placement of the lift is crucial.
consider an alternative source when the power goes out.
what makes them accessible?
of accessible risers and treads: 7inch high maximum for risers and 11inch
deep minimum for treads.
extensions of 12 inches at the top and 12 inches plus the tread depth
at the bottom are required.
must leave at least 1_ inches of clear space between handrail and wall.
must meet specific dimension ranges to allow for gripping by a human
landings are required at the top and bottom.
risers are not permitted.
provide accessibility between floor levels for all persons.
not always possible for elevators to access all floor levels in a renovation
of an existing building.
elevator door should be at least 36 inches wide.
should be mounted between 35 and 48 inches above the floor.
- Up &
down indicators should provide a visual & auditory signal.
controls assist the visually impaired.
indicators also assist the visually impaired.
makes a bathroom accessible?
- A lavatory
mounted with the top no higher than 34 inches and at least a 27-inch
space under it.
at the lavatory that can be operated with simple hand motions.
on pipes under the lavatory to prevent persons in wheelchairs from bumping
that are mounted with the bottom edge no more than 40 inches above the
stall must be at least 60 inches wide.
in the stall cramp the space even more.
stall should be 56 to 59 inches deep or the partition door swings to
close to the fixture.
seat should be 17 inches above the floor.
makes a kitchen accessible?
at the sink should require only simple hand motions.
should be no more than 34 inches high.
- A knee
space at least 27 inches high should be provided under the sink.
maneuvering space is required around counters and appliances.
parts of small wall mounted appliances should be no more than 48 inches
above the floor.
controls should be usable without reaching across the burners.
in wall cabinets should be no more than 48 inches above the floor.
So we have
just concluded this tour. Hopefully you can use it as a starting
point when considering issues of ADA compliance when you renovate existing
or construct new halls on your campus.
National Standards Institute (ANSI)
25 west 43rd Street, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10036
Code Council (ICC)
5203 Leesburg Pike, Suite 600
Falls Church, VA 22041
- US Department
Tool free lines for ADA information and to order publications
Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME International)
For information on elevator and platform lift requirements:
800-843-2763 (Questions regarding purchase of standards)
212-591-8500 (Questions regarding technical requirements of standards)
- The Access
Board (Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board)
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
Toll free lines for technical assistance:
About the Author
currently the Assistant Director of Residential Life for College in the
Woods at Binghamton University. He currently also serves as the Chairperson
for the Housing Operations and Auxiliary Services Committee for the Northeast
Association of College and University Housing Officers (NEACUHO). Jeff
received his Master's degree at Kent State University in Higher Education
Administration in 1996, and received his Bachelor's degree at Binghamton
University in Mathematical Sciences in 1994. Jeff is a member of ACPA