Importance of ADA in Design

What It Is

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, became a law in 1990. This civil rights act makes it illegal to discriminate people with disabilities. This encompasses every aspect of life: employment, travel, education. Basically, anything that would be involved in an able-bodied person’s daily life. Over 54 million people in America are considered to have a disability. In a different perspective, that’s every 1 in 5 Americans; the number is still growing due to events like births, accidents, war, and aging.

The ADA symbol

How It Effects Design

ADA guidelines effect everyone, not just the disabled. Have you ever taken an elevator, pushed a button to open a door, or biked over a curb ramp? Abled or disabled, these small features are ADA regulated, making life easier. When building a new home or public building, contractors have to follow regulated numbers for certain areas like the bathroom, entries, and walkways. This assures that if someone in a wheelchair comes in, they can comfortably maneuver through the place. Designers also have to keep this in mind. Planning furniture layouts and countertop and shelf heights should all consider the height and width of someone in a wheelchair living there.

An ADA complaint bathroom

Examples In Design

Now that you’re conscious about these rules, take a look to notice it in places you haven’t. Some examples in a public restroom would be the large stall with at least a 60″ diameter turn around space, a caved in sink ledge so a wheelchair could fit, or a lower than usual toilet seat. In public areas, you may have noticed the lower water fountain level, assuming its for kids. Nope, (well, maybe that too)! A parking space with blue lines signals disabled parking only, with cross walk space specifically for cars that need a ramp to be placed in order to roll out.

An appropriately wide walkway


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