Anyone who has run a business understands that regulations are abundant. They seem to govern every aspect of operation, and in the face of so many minute rules, it’s easy to overlook something important. One such case is in regard to accessibility. No business owner wants to discriminate against anyone with a disability, yet many find themselves unintentionally violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most commonly, businesses fail to provide an ADA ramp when required. This quick guide will make sure you are clear of this problem.
Who Needs a Ramp?
Homes and private residences are exempt from ADA guidelines. However, businesses are subject to the rules, and there are two cases that might require an ADA ramp. The first case falls under Title I ADA compliance. This regulation ensures that employers treat persons with disabilities fairly. If an employee would be hindered from working or being hired because of a lack of wheelchair access, then the business needs an approved ramp.
More commonly, businesses need to review their access for the sake of customers. Customer access is governed by Title III ADA rules. This is also the section that includes the specifics of how to design a compliant ramp. A business falls under Title III regulation if it provides any form of “public accommodations.” These public accommodations apply to any business that provides shopping, food, drink, food and drink services, theaters, lodging, education (such as private schools or museums) or medical services. That’s a pretty inclusive list, but if you aren’t sure you can find the official rules here.
That covers which businesses are subject to the rules, but there is still an important second half to the question. What situations necessitate building a ramp? That question is much easier to answer. Any change in level that is greater than a ½ inch needs a ramp or alternative. Elevators and lifts can serve as alternatives, but if you don’t have either, you need a ramp. Keep in mind that the level change can apply to any step or curb, and it can also apply to slopes greater than a 5-percent grade.
How to Be Compliant
Now that you know when to build a ramp, it’s also important to have a basic grasp of how the ramp needs to be designed. The full range of rules is long, but the basics aren’t too bad. First, the slope of the ramp cannot be greater than 1:12. That means that for every inch the ramp goes up, it must be at least 12 inches long. There must also be a level landing at the top and bottom of the ramp. Additionally, if the ramp requires a switchback design, each switchback also needs a level landing. Lastly, the ramp should be at least three feet wide.
Knowing when and where you need an ADA ramp can help you avoid unintended violations. That might not be enough for you to build or install the required ramp. In many cases, involving professional help is the easiest, most efficient and most cost-effective way to ensure that your business is properly accessible.