American with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation is on the rise. Accessibility lawsuits stemming from the ADA, as well as state and local accessibility laws and statutes, are on the rise nationally. Serial plaintiffs are finding more ways to create a backlog of accessibility lawsuits across the nation. It’s not uncommon for one plaintiff to be responsible for hundreds of "drive-by lawsuits."
But what can you do about avoiding ADA lawsuits?
Two things: be proactive, and know what to watch for.
Below are the 8 areas with the most common barriers that EMG documents during ADA/Accessibility Assessments.
ADA Violation: Accessible parking with pavement slopes greater than 2% is the number one exterior barrier nationally.
- Make sure that accessible parking stalls and their adjacent access aisles have slopes no greater than 2.08% (1:48), measured in all directions on the accessible parking stall and adjacent access aisle pavement.
- Pavement slopes can shift with temperature changes. This should be taken into consideration during construction and/or Parking Lot Replacement or Repair.
- Concrete is the easiest type of pavement in which to control the degree of slope.
- Every parking facility must provide a minimum of one or more van accessible spaces, depending upon the total number of parking stalls in the facility. Without the required minimum number of van sized accessible spaces, you could be opening yourself up to litigation.
- A parking facility can be either a parking lot or a parking garage.
- Accessible parking must be located closest to each accessible facility entrance.
- A few states regulate the total allowable distance between accessible parking and accessible entrances.
- Curb Ramps
ADA Violation: The slope of curb ramp runs often are steeper than the maximum allowable 1:12 (8.33%) slope.
Curb Ramp Regulations:
- Where a disabled user must turn a wheelchair at the top of the curb ramp, the top landing must be level.
- If a curb ramp is not provided where the accessible route crosses a curb, then the disabled cannot reach the facility entrance.
- Doors and Doorways
ADA Violation: If the required maneuvering clearance area on both sides of a door or doorway opening is not level (maximum 2.08% slope), it creates a hazard for disabled users.
Doors and Doorways Regulations:
- Pressures required to open and close interior hinged doors and sliding or folding doors must be 5 pounds maximum.
- Door control buttons must not require more than 5 pounds maximum needed to operate the button.
- For doors and gates with closers, certain timing and degree of opening must be met.
- Parking Signage
ADA Violation: Accessible parking signage is very visible to the potential drive-by plaintiff, so it pays to make the signage compliant. Additionally, if accessible parking signage is not compliant, it can be a red flag indicating that the building has interior elements which are not compliant.
Parking Signage Regulations:
- Parking signage must include the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA).
- Van accessible stalls must have a “van accessible” designation, which can be a separate sign.
- Signage height has minimum standards for van accessible stalls.
- State and local regulations for parking signage are often stricter than the 2010 ADA Standards.
ADA Violation: The running slope of a sidewalk that is part of the accessible route cannot be greater than 1:20 (5%).
- Running slopes are measured parallel with the dominant direction of travel.
- Cross slopes of sidewalks must also adhere to regulations.
- A compliant sidewalk must be provided from the public access to the facility.
- Accessible Route
ADA Violation: Accessible routes less than the minimum required width and height and with protruding objects are common barriers. Note: Additional items along an accessible route are often added after the Certificate of Occupancy (CO) has been issued, without considering the impact to accessibility.
Accessible Route Regulations:
- Protruding objects are common in the accessible route. These include, but are
not limited to: fire connections, ATM’s, and hand dryers.
- Guardrails must be placed at a certain height beneath the stair flight to prevent pedestrian passage.
Get the in-depth details with width and height requirements by downloading our ADA Tip Sheet.
- Restrooms/Locker Rooms/Dressing Rooms
ADA Violation: These spaces often have major accessibility issues, due to the number of regulated elements contained in restroom and locker room/dressing area spaces.
Restrooms/Locker Rooms/Dressing Rooms Regulations (include but are not limited to the height, location, length, clearance, maneuvering clearance, and more of the following items):
- Wheelchair stalls, Lavatories, Doors, Dispensers, Mirrors, Showers, Locker room/dressing room
- Counters and Work Surfaces
Service counters, check-out counters and work surfaces come in all shapes and sizes. Each type has different technical requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
ADA Violation: Items placed near counters and work spaces may seem small, but can limit the required clear space for wheelchairs, thereby creating a barrier. Example: a trash receptacle or planter placed in front of a narrow service counter may impede the required 30” wide clear space required for a forward approach to the counter by a wheelchair user. The trash receptacle or planter also may impede the required 48” wide clear space required for a parallel approach to the counter.
Counters and Work Surfaces Regulations:
- Service counters must have a compliant section with maximum height and counter depth. Additionally, service counters must comply with either a forward or a parallel approach for knee and toe clearance. There are exceptions.
- Check-out counter heights must adhere to maximum heights.
- Work surfaces (including check writing surfaces) must adhere to minimum and maximum heights to provide knee and toe clearance, with a forward wheelchair approach.
Through our work across the country, we encounter ADA violations every day. You can avoid such violations with awareness and proactivity. You can also recruit an unbiased, third-party consulting firm that knows what to look for, how to track barriers, how to address your budget concerns, and how to apply overall accessibility strategies to bring violations into compliance before a lawsuit occurs. Just make sure to choose an ADA Consultant familiar with your region, industry, type of facility, and level of detailed report required. (And be aware that Federal, State, and Local codes may apply to your facility).
The Fix: Beyond ADA Violations
Want to learn more? Download our complimentary Top 8 ADA Violations Tip Sheet today. It provides in-depth details of the above 8 Top ADA Violations. You can also check out our other complimentary ADA webinars and resources that address practical approaches to ADA/Accessibility Compliance, including how to prepare an ADA Transition Plan.