Accessibility is the responsibility of every person involved in a building project, including but not limited to the owner, designers, architects, engineers, builders and contractors. Reinforcing focus on accessibility compliance is of the utmost importance, and can have long-lasting impact on the success of a project.
Thankfully, designing ADA-compliant outdoor spaces doesn’t have to be complicated. We asked some of our seasoned experts for their advice regarding accessibility compliant public spaces. Here’s what they had to say.
The ADA and What Contractors Need to Know About It
To make everyday living manageable and to allow people of all abilities to access public facilities and businesses, the government created the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The ADAAG (ADA Accessibility Guidelines) prohibit all discrimination against disabled people and ensure that all citizens have safe access anywhere they go. It covers twelve categories.
These twelve categories cover:
- Places of lodging
- Establishments serving food or drinks
- Places of exhibition or entertainment
- Service establishments
- Sales or rental establishments
- Places of public gathering
- Public transportation areas
- Places of public display
- Recreational facilities
- Education centers
- Social service center establishments
- Places of exercise
If a business is found in non-compliance with ADA guidelines, they will be required to make changes to rectify the problem. This is why it is so important to follow ADA guidelines throughout the design and drafting process. Otherwise, there can be frustration, inconvenience and major added costs later.
Not to mention, failure to comply with ADA building compliance can lead to serious financial penalties. It can start at around $55,000 for a first-time violation, while a second violation can cost you upwards of $150,000. That isn’t even including potential litigation on liability issues.
Concrete, Pavers and the ADA
Simply adding a ramp for a person in a wheelchair doesn’t necessarily ensure compliance with the ADA. There are very specific rules. The ADA specifies how wide the ramp must be, how steep the ramp can be, how long the ramp can be before it reaches a landing, how big that landing is allowed to be, and depending on the conditions, if it needs to have curbing, sidewalls or handrails.
When it comes to a parking lot, there are even more accessibility concerns. If the path to an entrance is blocked, there must be a curb ramp to allow wheelchairs and people who have trouble walking the ability to transition from the lot to your entrance. There must be signage and pavement markings, and the size, location and number of spaces are mandatory.
The ADA does allow pavements and ramps to be built from different materials, but the law requires no water is able to collect on it, that it is permanently affixed and not a temporary addition, and that it is slip-resistant. With pavers, the space between each paver is not allowed to be more than half an inch wide.
Working with a contractor and supplier who is knowledgeable about the law is essential because the ADA is complex and safety of visitors should always be the number one priority.
Techo-Bloc Is Your ADA Compliant Solution
All Techo-Bloc Interlocking Concrete and Permeable Pavers from their commercial lines are sent out to third-party labs to ensure that they are slip-resistant. The space between the pavers (joining) are no larger than half an inch to meet the ADA requirements.
Techo-Bloc’s products are firm, ensuring they are easy to walk or roll on. They are engineered to handle the freeze and thaw that occurs in changing climates. And as long as they are properly installed, the stones will remain adaptable, even and stable for years.
The joints between the pavers create flexibility to avoid cracking, while still allowing subtle movement without being larger than ADA allows. And the pavers themselves are three times stronger than poured concrete with a minimum strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of 5% water absorption.
Techo-Bloc’s products are stable because they are part of an interlocking concrete pavement. It is not the shape alone that makes Techo-Bloc pavers interlock, it is the system itself. When they are properly installed, the combination of the paving stones, bedding, joint sand and edge restraint allows Techo-Bloc pavers to horizontally, vertically and rotationally interlock.
Techo-Bloc’s products are skid resistant. Slip resistance under dry conditions is approximated by measuring the static coefficient of friction, i.e. the horizontal force required to initiate sliding at the instant of motion divided by the static weight (gravity force). However, Techo-Bloc pavers are also skid resistant when wet — even pavers with a Polished finish are skid resistant wet or dry.
Lastly, many designers think they will need to skimp on or forego aesthetics completely when they have to meet ADA compliance requirements. With Techo-Bloc, that is not true. Techo-Bloc is the innovator of the collaboration of aesthetics and function. Their permeable pavers give designers the ability to imagine just as much as the ability to build with their plethora of designs, colors and textures.
Get Started Today
Our representatives are experienced in applying ADA guidelines to commercial hardscaping projects. If you’re struggling with how to apply the guidelines or want to ensure that your plan is up to code, don’t hesitate to contact a rep to see how Techo-Bloc can help.