ADA Path of Travel Requirements: What You Need to Know
You may not even be aware of it, but almost anywhere you shop, dine out, visit, vacation, or even live has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) path of travel requirements built into the area landscape. The designs are such that they are meant to blend in seamlessly with existing construction and architecture, making them virtually unnoticeable unless you know what you are looking for.
As an example, think of the last time you parked anywhere. Undoubtedly there were parking spaces reserved for those with a handicap parking plate or badge. While this is extremely commonplace, they are one of the many necessary pieces that a building or facility needs in order to comply with the ADA path of travel requirements.
This article will serve as a guide to navigating these requirements. For more specific information and specifics regarding the requirements themselves, you can visit the Department of Justice website.
The Importance of Path of Travel
For many people, it is hard to imagine a world in which we do not have ready and easy access to things that enable our mobility, such as walking, hearing, or seeing. But for many others, if accessibility for all has not been accounted for, it means the inability to perform even basic day-to-day tasks.
Many buildings, especially those that are older, may contain features that are barriers for those with disabilities. Some of these are obvious, such as curbs, narrow aisleways or door frames, or steps. Some, however, are not as obvious.
Public mirrors, drinking fountains, and telephones are typically mounted high and out of reach of those in wheelchairs. Most signage is useless to those who are blind. Loose gravel on walkways is difficult to navigate for someone who requires a walker.
These are just a few examples of the many barriers that exist today and need to be taken into consideration within the scope of path of travel. The ADA path of travel requirements exist to enable a world in which anyone, regardless of disability, can have equal access and opportunity.
Understanding Path of Travel
Path of travel, as defined by the ADA, “includes a continuous, unobstructed way of pedestrian passage by means of which the altered area may be approached, entered, and exited, and which connects the altered area with an exterior approach (including sidewalks, streets, and parking areas), an entrance to the facility, and other parts of the facility.”
Path of travel can include walks and sidewalks, ramps, clear floor paths, parking access, elevators or lifts, or any combination of these. It also includes things such as restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains that serve these areas.
As of 2010, the ADA requires that all new buildings or facilities constructed by a State or local government be accessibly compliant. In addition, renovating or remodeling existing buildings where barriers exist requires an allocation of 20% of the construction costs to remove the barriers.
Implementing ADA Path of Travel Requirements
When it comes time to plan or implement accessibility within your construction project, you need to consider the following elements within your overall plans.
The ADA requirements are extremely detailed and nuanced in definition, description, and exemption. While this article is meant to serve as a high-level guide into the path of travel requirements, is highly recommended that you read and understand the guidelines prior to beginning any project, or consult with a local inspector.
- Scope – As previously mentioned, all areas of newly designed or constructed buildings, as well as changed or renovated portions of existing buildings and facilities need to comply with the ADA path of travel requirements unless exempted.
This applies not only to the areas themselves but the elements within the areas, such as drinking fountains, stairways, parking, and many more.
- Building Blocks – This section applies to floor and ground surfaces, carpet, vertical clearance, toe and knee clearance, and protruding objects. Specific minimum and maximum measurements are provided.
- Accessible Routes – Outlined within this section are the components needed to create an accessible route, such as doorways, ramps, and elevators. Within these components, specifications regarding turning radius and height of curbs are outlined.
- General Site and Building Elements – The purpose of this section is to detail additional requirements for elements such as parking spaces, passenger loading zones, stairways, and handrails. Dimensions are provided for spacing, height, and location.
- Plumbing Elements and Facilities – Everything you want to need to know about how to comply in terms of plumbing elements is housed within this section. Everything from toilets and water closets to sinks and bathtubs are outlined in great detail.
- Communication Elements and Features – This section dives into alarm systems and signage, and the necessary elements such as braille, pictures, or symbols that need to be included for broad accessibility. It also lists the specifics for mounted services such as telephones and automated teller machines.
- Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements – Even if it seems that all the space requirements have been covered by now, there are still more to consider. Designated seats within places such as movie theaters or concert venues, kitchens, medical care facilities, courtrooms, and even holding cells have their own unique set of guides and measures.
- Built-In Elements – This section refers mainly to the height and clearance of specific built-in features such as counters, benches, and dining and/or work surfaces.
- Recreation Facilities – Last but certainly not least, this section addresses unique facilities specific to recreation, such as amusement parks and rides, recreational boating facilities, play areas, swimming pools, and even miniature golf.
While all of these may not apply to your specific project, again it is a good practice to scan through the guidelines to look for the elements that will need to be compliant and make yourself familiar with the requirements for future projects.
Know Before You Build, ensure you know ADA Path of Travel Requirements
Understanding the considerations you may need to make regarding the ADA path of travel requirements within the scope of your project should be a top priority and integrated seamlessly into your project plans.
Not only will you save yourself a significant amount of time and effort in needing to correct these requirements later, but you are also enabling an accessible world for all.
If you need assistance with you ADA Path of Travel project, contact us today to get a free estimate!