Accessibility


Buildings

What does building access include?
When we consider access, we are looking at four main areas:
• Safety - which includes issues such as lighting and non slip floor surfaces;
• Mobility - is there sufficient room to maneuver a wheelchair?
• Accessibility - are all parts of a building able to be accessed, or are there steps or other barriers; and
• Function - are facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and doorways able to be used by a person with a disability.
Another important consideration, particularly in public buildings is dignity (ie are accessible entrance ways and toilets appropriately positioned or is the person with a disability expected to use a back entrance to the building or perhaps a service lift, do they need to travel much further to reach the toilet, etc).
When considering access for people with disabilities, there are some key areas to consider.

Ramps

1. Determine the Rise. This is the measurement in inches from the ground straight up to the top of your platform/entrance. ADA standards state that you should have a foot of ramp per inch of rise. Example: 7 inch rise should have a 7 foot ramp (or 10 cm rise should have a 1 meter ramp). ADA standards are required to be met for most commercial locations, however in residential locations the choice is yours.

2. Determine a Safe Slope. The slope is the tilted angle of the ramp in degrees. Please review the information below to determine a safe slope for your modular ramp.
• 1:12 SLOPE (5 Degrees): This is the ADA recommended slope for commercial or public access ramps. This 5 degree angle is the best solution for manual wheelchair users who will be propelling themselves up the ramp and for users of electric wheelchairs and scooters.
• 2:12 SLOPE (9.5 Degrees): This Slope is not recommended for commercial use by ADA standards, but can be used in residential applications.

This slope usually works with an able assistant to push the mobility equipment from behind (or walk along-side while powering the equipment up with no rider) for those unable to power themselves up the ramp. For those powering themselves up the ramp with manual wheelchair (strong users only), electric scooters or electric wheelchairs, please check the manufacturers specifications for the safe climbing grade of the equipment.
• 3:12 SLOPE (14.5 Degrees): At this angle, stability and use become a concern for mid-wheel drive electric wheelchairs and ground clearance of most 3 and 4 wheel scooters. Use this only for residential use for loading unoccupied electric wheelchairs and scooters that have the ground clearance to clear this steep angle. Long ramps should have a maximum gradient of 1:14, with a landing every 8 m.
3. Determine the Layout of the Land: When you determine the length of the modular ramp system you need, consider the layout of the land. If you need a 30 foot long ramp, do you have 30 foot of space in front of, or to either side of the platform? Also, is the ground flat and level or is it sloped, on a hill, or is there un-even terrain? Don't forget to consider the landscape. Are there any trees or shrubs in the way of your layout?


Entrance Ways, Walkways and Doors:

How do people get from the road or their cars to the entrance way - is it covered, flat and even? Walkways and ramps should be a minimum of 1000mm wide. Are the entrance ways accessible? Are there stairs or lips on the doorways? Door openings should be 800mm. There needs to be sufficient circulation space to be able to open the door from a wheelchair. The amount required will depend on the style of door and the direction of approach. Hallways should be around 1200mm wide to allow sufficient circulation space to get into rooms.


Kitchens and Living Area:

Light switches and power points should be positioned where a wheelchair user can reach them, at around 1m from the floor. Consideration should be given to using rocker or touch switches which are easier to activate. The kitchen should have benches which are around 850mm from the floor. Providing a continuous bench between preparation area, microwave and stove will assist with safe handling of hot food. The hand basin should have clear space underneath to allow a wheelchair user to wheel underneath it.


Toilets and Bathrooms:

Clear floor space. The lateral distance from the center line of the water closet to the nearest obstruction, excluding grab bars, shall not be less than 18 inches (455 mm) on one side, 42 inches (1065 mm) on the other side. In other than stalls, a clear floor space of not less than 32 inches (815 mm), measured perpendicular to the wall on which the water closet is mounted, shall be provided in front of the water closet.
The height of the water closets shall be a minimum of 17 inches (430 mm) and a maximum of 19 inches (485 mm) measured to the top of the seat. Seats shall not be sprung to return to a lifted position.

Grab bars. Grab bars shall be installed at one side and at the back of the water closet. The top of grab bars shall not be less than 33 inches (840 mm) and not more than 36 inches (915 mm) above and parallel to the floor. Grab bars located at the side shall be a minimum of 42 inches (1065 mm) in length located not more than 12 inches (305 mm) from the rear wall and extending at least 54 inches (1370 mm) from the rear wall. Grab bars located at the back shall be a minimum of 36 inches (915 mm) in length and shall extend at least 12 inches (305 mm) beyond the center of the water closet toward the side wall and at least 24 inches (610 mm) toward the open side of the water closet.
Grab bars located at the back shall be mounted not more than 9 inches (230 mm) behind the water closet seat. Flush controls shall be mounted for use from the wide side of the water closet area and not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Toilet paper and other dispensers or receptacles shall be installed within easy reach of the water closet, and shall not interfere with grab bar utilization.

Bathrooms should be large enough to have 1200mm circulation space in front of the toilet, and 1150 from the toilet to the wall. The position and type of flushing controls, taps, toilet paper dispensers, shelves and mirrors should be considered to allow independent use. Mirrors or shelves shall be installed so that the bottom of the mirror or the top of the shelf is within 40 inches (1015 mm) of the floor.
Drying equipment, towel or other dispensers, and disposal fixtures shall be mounted so as not to exceed 40 inches (1015 mm) above the finished floor to any rack, operating controls, receptacle or dispenser. The hand basin should have clear space underneath to allow a wheelchair user to wheel underneath it. Floors should have a non slip surface.