This is a relatively simple topic, but I have seen a number of new facilities where these are not specified or installed in a compliant fashion. The ADA standards does not require all of the machines to be accessible. In each accessible space, one minimum is required to be accessible for a dryer and one for a washing machine. And if there are more than 3 washers or 3 dryers, then two are required to be accessible of each. This is applicable whether it is in a laundromat, or a common space laundry room for public residential dwelling units, or student housing at a place of education, or social service center establishment sleeping rooms, or a mobility feature dwelling unit.
Sinks have many differing requirements depending upon how they are being used including types of approach, cabinetry below or not, and even the number required to be accessible. Following is a summary of different sink types and their uses that will hopefully shed some light on the issue and requirements for each.
One of the things that we may not pay too much attention to is counters – whether kitchens, kitchenettes, service, or work surfaces. Depending on the set up, we have either a side/parallel approach, or if we have knee/toe clearance below we can have a front approach. And certain portions actually require a front approach.
As Electric Vehicles become more prevalent, the question comes up of what to do to make them accessible and even whether or not they are required to be accessible. Although not specifically mentioned in the ADA Standards, the prevailing requirement in the implementing regulations requires a measure of access for all. So if an element is available to the able-bodied population, then it should also be available for those with a disability. Since there are no scoping and technical requirements what do you do?
One of the things we learn as designers and architects is how to organize, design, and incorporate way-finding thru axis and focal points. We learn about the more formal architecture with its linear and direct arrangements of space versus the informal with its cluster arrangements and less direct connections. We also learn much more about design for the mobility impaired. Since mobility issues directly affect the architectural environment, it is better defined in building codes and federal regulations with a multitude of requirements. For the Deaf Community – which is an inclusive term for those who might be fully deaf to hard-of-hearing and communicate by signing, lip reading, and/or using technology devices – we generally think in terms of placing visual alarms or sound attenuated devices, since this is what is required, and mostly for interior environments.
Doorbells have a variety of requirements with the implementation of the 2010 ADA Standards. This would be within communication feature units both for transient lodging guest rooms as well as for dwelling units. These features are for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and blind or partially sighted.
For some reason, storage requirements appear to be confusing for most people – either accessible storage is forgotten completely or adequate accessible storage is not provided. And there also are some ambiguous portions in the ADA which really do need to be better defined. Like most other things in Access, the requirements for storage depends on its use. In order for storage to be considered accessible, it needs to be within reach range, whether side or forward reach, and from a level clear floor space that is along an accessible route. If it has any operable parts then they are required to have 5 lbs maximum operating force and are operable without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The issue though, is the scoping – how much do we need? Below is a summary of different types of storage and their respective requirements.
Pool lifts have very specific requirements which many times have been overlooked – from the mechanism itself to the level clear floor space adjacent to the water edge. Lifts are typically required for both pools and spas, although there are other alternative means of entry into the water that are also acceptable. This requirement first became mandatory on March 15, 2012 but an extension was provided until January 31, 2013 for existing pools. What was cause for great confusion at the time was the difference between the industry language of portable lift versus fixed and the ADA requirements. Basically the ADA states that the lift has to be fixed – whether this means a portable lift that is fixed in place or a typical fixed lift – both appear to be acceptable as long as they meet the other lift requirements.
While the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADAS) have a tremendous amount of information, they can not cover all specific items and occurrences…hence the gray areas. Presuming you have verified the Scoping Requirements in Chapter 2 which provides information on whether it applies to your specific facility, and additionally you have verified the definitions as listed in the Application and Administration provisions located in Chapter 1, which may better define specific words, and you still are at loss, there are other resources.
Aside from all of the scoping and technical information one is required to implement into transient lodging guest rooms, there are a number of other items to be aware of that may not be as clearly defined.