Accidents Involving the Disabled: Common Causes and Prevention

For those who are not disabled, the relative ease of daily tasks is often taken for granted. The non-disabled have few problems getting to work, running errands, or crossing a busy street; the world has largely been designed for this majority. For a disabled person, however, the experience is very different. A visually impaired person, for example, may be unable to drive to work, have trouble using crosswalks, or be injured by a hazard he or she cannot see.

According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion individuals in the world are disabled in some way. Of those, approximately 285 million are visually impaired (having significantly low vision that cannot be helped with corrective lenses alone).¹ In the United States, the National Federation of the blind reports that more than seven million people have some form of visual impairment.²

Unfortunately, even with millions of disabled individuals worldwide, there are still many spaces that aren’t as accessible or safe for the disabled as they are for others. Because of this, the disabled tend to be at greater risk of an accident.

Common Accidents and Their Causes

The following are a few common types of accidents involving disabled persons, as well as their typical causes:

  • Falling
  • Common causes: Slippery surfaces that could not be avoided or foreseen due to their disability; tripping over hazards (e.g., uneven sidewalks); attempting to go upstairs when a ramp is unavailable.
  • Getting Hit by a Motor Vehicle
  • Common causes: Failure by drivers to acknowledge pedestrians in wheelchairs; inability to distinguish between the sidewalk and the road (if visually impaired).
  • Injury from Objects or Other People
  • Common causes: ADA non-compliance and unrecognized hazards (e.g., narrow store aisles), disregard for disabled individuals in a crowded space; lack of appropriate safety measures.

Using ADA Tiles to Prevent Accidents and Support Accessibility

One way to create safe, accessible spaces is to use ADA tiles to alert the visually impaired to areas bordering roadways, parking lots, and other areas of potential danger. ADA-detectable warning tiles feature a unique textured surface that can be felt through most types of footwear, providing a tactile alert to the person that he or she is approaching a curb or crosswalk. This type of warning is especially important now that curb design has become more sloped, making it more difficult to feel for the edges.

The use of ADA warning tiles for accident prevention and accessibility has numerous benefits for those installing them, as well. Using modular tiles to create tactile warning surfaces makes the application simple, flexible, and easy to replace. Focusing on accessibility and safety for the visually impaired also ensures that businesses aren’t alienating an entire group of potential customers.

The Unique Design of Detectable Warning Surface Tiles

Perhaps the most important aspect of tactile surface tiles is their carefully planned texture. While the bumps on the surface of the tiles may seem arbitrary, they’re manufactured to specifications provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). The shape, known as the “truncated dome,” has been determined to be ideal for detectability and overall surface safety. To be compliant with the ADAAG, each dome must be within the defined height, diameter, and spacing ranges.

It’s not just about the truncated dome, however; every aspect of an ADA-detectable warning tile’s design is intended to support safety for everyone who might come in contact with it. The texture, for example, is important not just for being easily detected by visually impaired persons; it’s also perfect for providing grip in otherwise slippery conditions.

ADA tiles can also be manufactured in a variety of colors, the most popular being a bright, easily visible shade of yellow. These different color options make it possible for development planners to create high contrast between the tiles and their surrounding surfaces, making the tiles ideal as visual cues for the sighted.

Your Obligations as a Business Owner or Public Servant

If you own a business or are responsible for planning a public space, you’ll need to make sure that your plans meet certain safety and accessibility standards. In addition to obeying all relevant building codes in your area, you have an obligation to meet ADA accessibility guidelines so that disabled individuals can easily access the space and be protected from accidents.

The ADAAG cover a variety of topics, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Minimum accessibility requirements
  • Accessible room design
  • Bathroom stalls
  • Object heights (sinks, mirrors, hand dryers, soap dispensers, light switches, etc.)
  • Building entrance ramps
  • Detectable warnings (ADA flooring, ADA walkway requirements)
  • Detectable through footwear by the visually impaired
  • Sizing (minimum 6-8 inches from back of curb)
  • Truncated dome texture design
  • Signage
  • Curb Ramps
  • Usable by those with walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, etc.
  • Sloped transition from the street up to the walkway
  • Design of accessible routes
  • Doorways, elevators, hallways, etc.
  • Appropriate slope and width measurements
  • Alternatives to stairs
  • Sufficient turning space (for wheelchairs, scooters, etc.)

While following all of these different regulations might seem like unnecessary red tape, remember that they exist to protect and support the needs and safety of everyone, regardless of their abilities. It’s also not as difficult or time-consuming as you might think; ADA Solutions’ detectable warning surfaces, for example, are easy to order, install, and replace as needed.


Before you solidify your plans or do any installations, make sure that you look into all of the relevant construction, safety, and accessibility laws in your state and community. Depending on where you live, you may have other legal requirements in addition to the federal ADA guidelines.

ADA Solutions Is an Industry Leader in Detectable Warnings

Whether you need ADA tiles for new construction, to correct compliance issues, or to replace old worn-out surfaces, you can trust the superior warning tile products at ADA Solutions. Our fully ADA-compliant tiles are made from heavy-duty materials like cast iron and fiberglass polymer composites, giving you years of reliable function without wear. Our tiles are also UV stable, which means that even years in direct sunlight won’t change their color or contrast.

ADA Solutions offers a range of detectable warning surface products for various applications:

  • Cast-in-place tiles (standard or replaceable)
  • Delivered ready for installation in freshly poured concrete.
  • Made from durable composite materials, ideal for long-term use.
  • Replaceable version has a surface piece that is anchored into panel body for easy replacement after years of wear.
  • Surface applied tiles
  • Ideal for retrofitting and quick installation (5-10 minutes, in some cases).
  • Thin, bevel-edged tiles provide a safe transition when installed on the surface of existing concrete.
  • Radius systems
  • Designed to support accessibility and ADAAG compliance along curved areas (radius conditions).
  • Easy, fast cutting with pre-scored radius measurements at 10, 15 and 20 feet.
  • No cutting needed for radiuses of 11-13 feet.
  • Cast iron “Irondome” tactile systems
  • Exterior grade tactile warning surface tiles cast from solid, extremely durable iron.
  • Natural finish of cast iron meets ADA color requirements.
  • Eligible for LEED® points (ideal for businesses seeking LEED® certification).
  • Replaceable graphic tile systems
  • Custom-designed tiles featuring full four-color graphics, messaging, and/or advertisements.
  • Artwork can be displayed across one or more tiles.
  • Replaceable for easy updating of graphics and messaging.
  • Other products
  • Photoluminescent “Glow-Dome” systems.
  • Wayfinding surfaces.
  • All of our tactile warning surface products are designed to meet ADAAG standards. With appropriate installation, our tiles provide full compliance and maximum accessibility.

    To learn more about how you can prevent accidents involving the disabled and meet your obligations to safety and accessibility, explore our products online or call ADA Solutions at (800) 372-0519.

    Sources

    1. http://www.who.int/blindness/GLOBALDATAFINALforweb.pdf
    2. https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics

Can Businesses Be Sued for Not Having ADA-Compliant Surfaces?

One of the areas the ADA oversees is the protection of customers with disabilities who enter public spaces. They provide safety codes for businesses to adhere to in order to ensure the safety of anyone who visits the premises—but what happens when a company doesn’t follow the ADA flooring specifications and a person is injured on-site? Can businesses be sued for not having ADA-compliant surfaces?

Is Suing Even an Option?

The short answer to this question is yes. Property owners are responsible for doing whatever they can to prevent others from being injured on their premises. So, companies must adhere to ADA flooring standards at all times. Your business can potentially be sued by individuals who suffer injuries on your property.

What Does the ADA Cover?

ADA legislation exists to make publicly available spaces more accessible and safe for patients who have mobility issues. This includes sidewalks, entry ramps, hospitals, retail outlets, housing units, public facilities, grocery stores, and banks. The ADA provides clear outlines of what is required of property owners to ensure ADA flooring and ADA walkways are accessible at all times.

What Can Happen in a Non-ADA Compliant Space?

Someone who is injured in a non-ADA-compliant public space has the option of filing a complaint with the government. They may also file a premises liability claim against the business where the individual was hurt. A premises liability case looks at injuries sustained on private and public property and whether they were influenced by negligence—such as refusing to meet ADA-compliance standards.

Examples of ADA Specifications

ADA regulations are very extensive, especially when it comes to public spaces. Many business owners implement these regulations because they’re common knowledge. However, they may not be fully aware of other implementations that are just as important.

Here are some of the most important highlights:

  1. Wheelchair ramps at main entryways and potentially side entrances
  2. Ensuring curb entrances to sidewalks are accessible to everyone
  3. Proper positioning of merchandise shelving to be reachable
  4. Installing specialized doorway hinges or installing wider doors
  5. Leaving space between obstacles for easier wheelchair movement
  6. Replacing high-pile carpets to reduce or totally remove tripping hazards
  7. Installing grab bars and raised toilet seats in bathrooms to improve safety

If you haven’t sought out ADA-compliant renovations, this list is the best place to start. Even the most simple changes can help you assist people with disabilities to become happier and comfortable when they visit your business.

How Premise Liability Cases Work

sidewalk curb anti slip pad

In premise liability cases, the property owner is the defendant. Slip and fall claims are the most common injury case for public spaces, though they’re not the only type a company without ADA flooring may face. The absence of grab bars in bathrooms is another common example.

In each case, the complainant’s lawyer will look for previous injury cases, investigate the premises, and reach out to the property owner’s insurance company to receive compensation. If they can prove that you purposefully avoided ADA compliance, you may be held liable.

ADA compliance protects your business from liability cases in the event of injuries or accidents, especially if you can prove you made attempts to install ADA-compliant elements. Protect your company today by contacting ADA Solutions for guidance and compliance products.

Important ADA Standards Businesses Should Follow for Surfaces

wooden bridge for wheelchair users

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a group of civil rights laws that exist to prevent discrimination against individuals with physical and mental disabilities. This includes mandates that demand businesses create accessible routes, like ramps and risers, that allow patients who struggle with mobility to reach, access, or enter public spaces.

This mini-guide contains important ADA-compliant standards businesses should follow for surfaces, with helpful tips to ensure your space meets all the necessary requirements.

Public Accommodations

It’s easier than you may think for your business to breach ADA regulations inadvertently. That’s a problem because lacking public accommodations in your building is considered a form of discrimination in many scenarios. ADA legislation applies to anything regarded as public space or accessible by the public, even if your business is privately owned.

Need a few examples? Restaurants, hotels, doctor’s offices, private schools, and daycare centers all fall under public accommodation law.

Public accommodations include a wide variety of structures and building designs. The ADA measure defines the minimum standards of accessibility required when altering existing and newly constructed buildings. The mandate also states that any existing barriers should be removed, assuming it’s easy to remove them and isn’t prohibitively expensive.

Business owners must make “reasonable modifications” to the ways they typically run their company to accommodate disabled individuals. These additions may include handrails, ramps, ground markers, and landing areas. Specific dimensions and designs for these structures are located on the ADA website.

Accessible Flooring

Installing accessible flooring in your business isn’t strictly mandated by the ADA—at least, not in most circumstances—but it’s still wise to consider constructing or modifying your building with ADA flooring to attract more clients and avoid any potential legal issues. Depending on how you want to design and style your business, you have several options available when it comes to ADA-compliant flooring.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is an excellent multi-purpose material, and it’s inherently ADA compliant. It has a very luxurious, high-end look that’s well-suited for business spaces, livening up any room, and it is also remarkably easy to clean.

The key to using hardwood in a business is to find the right type of wood. Avoid softer woods, like pine and fir, because they scuff and dent much easier than harder woods. Turn to oak, ash, cherry, maple, and cedar instead.

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic tiles are also suited to meet ADA regulations, but, like hardwood, it matters which ceramic style you choose. Avoid ceramics that have uniformly smooth surfaces, as they are traditionally slippery and may cause accidents. Tiles with textured surfaces that are at a minimum two inches in length are ideal for meeting ADA standards.

Vinyl Flooring Tiles

Vinyl flooring is a great option if you’re looking for something cheaper that’s easy to clean, water-resistant, and compliant. This material is ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, and an inlaid variation is more likely to be compliant with ADA regulations, as it is more secure. There are also luxury vinyl tiles with foam backing to make them more comfortable to traverse.

Carpet Flooring

Carpet is very resistant to slipping, but thick carpeting creates too much friction for ADA standards and can trip guests. Your carpet cannot have a thickness of greater than 1.5 inches, so look for shorter, compact piles. It’s also a cheaper alternative and is relatively easy to install compared to other types of flooring material.

Where to Find It

It can be challenging to find the right vendor for your ADA compliant flooring needs. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect ADA flooring for your business, help is available. ADA Solutions offers a wide variety of stylish ADA flooring at highly competitive prices.

How to Make Your Home Floor Surfaces ADA Compliant

parquet floor wood texture

Accessibility walkways and ramps are all around us in public spaces. Those who frequently use accessibility resources likely notice the broad range of materials used to make them, as well as the many available shapes and sizes on the market.

ADA-compliant flooring enables everyone to go grocery shopping and run all sorts of other errands—but what about when the accessibility need is in your own home? Here are a few tips on making your house flooring ADA compliant to simplify your life.

Choose a Type of Floor

How you set up your home floors depends on what type of material you want to use to gain accessibility. Which type of flooring you use largely depends on your lifestyle and how rough you are on your floors.

There are five floor materials the ADA recommends for domestic use:

  1. Carpeting
  2. Ceramic
  3. Laminate
  4. Hardwood
  5. Slip-resistant

Each flooring type has friction coefficients that range from zero to one. Check the rating before you purchase and avoid ratings greater than 0.5, as they’re more difficult to traverse.

Additionally, each type has a few variations that vary in durability. Choose from stronger materials, if there’s a lot of wear and tear on your home’s floor, or go with lighter materials if you’re on a budget.

Non-Slip

Non-slip flooring is a broad category that includes everything from hardwood to laminate to tile; it refers more to the properties of the flooring than the material itself. The difference is that the non-slip variations are designed with safety and accessibility in mind, not just looks or accessibility.

Most non-slip floors have close to a 0.5 friction coefficient, so they won’t be too difficult to travel across in a wheelchair. Thin-pile and thick carpets are also options in this category, but you may need to avoid thick carpets if you’re already having a difficult time getting around, as they’re above 0.5 friction.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors adhere to ADA standards. They’re also incredibly popular because they look fantastic and last for decades without much maintenance. You do need to know how hard and durable the type of hardwood you’re looking at is before you buy. Not every hardwood is the same.

For example, many homeowners want pine or fir floors. They’re beautiful, but they’re considered softwood and dent easily. Hardwoods like hickory and maple are much more resistant to bumps, dents, and scratches. The better option is factory-finished hardwood. It’s much harder and far more durable.

Laminate

Consider laminate floors if you want something similar to hardwood without the high price tag of a new hardwood floor. They’re a cheaper alternative to hardwood and are easier to maintain, though they don’t have quite the same finish as hardwood.

Ceramic

Finally, ceramic tiles are another good option for ADA flooring. They’re better suited for kitchens and bathrooms, because they make water cleanup a breeze and prevent mold, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t tile your whole house in ceramic tiles if desired.

ceramic tile installation

Ideally, you’ll want tiles no larger than 4-inch squares to avoid cracking. Getting too small of a tile size, on the other hand, makes your floors harder to clean, with all of the grout and debris that occasionally get stuck between the cracks. Your ceramic floor gains traction based on the amount of grout used, but most people find 2-inch or 4-inch square tiles suitable.

Where to Find ADA-Compliant Floors

Once you’ve chosen a type of floor for your home, you have a world of possibilities for personalization. There are many optional designs and layouts you can implement to increase accessibility and safety, all at the same time. Want to know more about customizing your ADA compliant floor? Contact ADA Solutions today.

How to Find the Right ADA Surface for Your Building

wet concrete on new sidewalk construction

Creating accessible pathways into buildings is one part of building design that many people overlook. It’s easy for those without mobility hindrances to take ADA-compliant ramps and walkways for granted or to not notice them at all. It’s not possible to overlook these features as someone who designs building blueprints and layouts or needs more accessible routes in their current floorplan. You’ll need an inspection to know exactly which ADA flooring you need, but these tips will help you get started on the right path.

Plan Ahead

Figuring out what type of specialized flooring you’ll need involves careful planning and precise measurements. You’ll need some tools, floor plans, checklists, and a companion to help you out. You could do the survey yourself, but it’s far easier and faster when two people are involved. One of you can take measurements; the other can keep track of your checklists and take photos of the area.

Get your hands on the floor plans of the area you’re surveying. Study the layout and develop a general picture in your head of what you want the end result to look like. Take into account any entrances, drinking fountains, bathrooms, and other important landmarks that may change your plans. If you don’t have access to any floor plans, you should make a sketch of the area to work with. Make a checklist of places and elements of interest for your partner to keep tabs on while you perform your inspection.

Finally, gather up all the tools you’ll need for the job. Most of the tools listed below are standard for every inspection job. Others, like a carpenter’s level, you may not need. Most wheelchairs are around 24 inches in length, so do your best to find a level of this length if necessary. Ensure your bag or backpack is large enough to hold everything you need.

  1. Checklists and clipboard
  2. Floorplan
  3. Tape measure
  4. Digital camera
  5. Tablet
  6. Door pressure gauge
  7. 24-inch electronic or carpenter’s level

It’s Survey Time

Beginning your inspection from the outside will save you time and prevent potential headaches. Make a detailed survey of the most common and accessible arrival points to your building. Drop-off areas, sidewalks, and main entryways are high-traffic areas that you’ll need to get right before moving on. Van drop-off points are also something to keep in mind when determining what sort of ADA flooring you’ll need in your entryways.

(H2) Parking Spaces

Ensure your parking areas have the required number of accessibility spots in them. There may be differences in that number, depending on whether it’s a garage or a lot. Then, double check to see if your accessibility spots have easy access to your accessibility entrances and ramps. Each of these areas should have signs to point visitors in the right direction to those zones. You can continue your inspection inside the building once you’ve ensured that all exterior areas and entrances are properly set up.

Installing ADA-compliant walkways, ramps, and flooring in and around your building is a great boon to your business. Do you need high-quality and reliable accessibility flooring? ADA Solutions is here to help you with all your accessibility needs.

How to Make Your Shower Handicapped Accessible

Handicapped Access Bathroom Shower

Start by reviewing ADA guidelines, for, most often, ADA accessible design standards are the concern of those who intend to serve the general public in some way, whether it’s by running a business or providing a public facility. Of course, the specifics of these guidelines may vary, depending on the building’s intended use. However, these accessibility guidelines are useful for anyone who wishes to meet the needs of the disabled—including homeowners.

ADA shower guidelines are meant to provide information about measurements, materials, and designs that are ideal for the needs of individuals with various disabilities. This includes things like spacing measurements, shower control and spray unit heights, grab bar placement, shower seat strength, threshold requirements, and more.

Examples of ADA shower standards include the following:

  • Standard roll-in showers must be at least 30 in. wide by 60 in. deep, accessible from a front entry at least 60 in. wide.
  • Thresholds for roll-in showers must be no taller than ½ in.
  • Grab bars must be installed horizontally no lower than 33 in. and no higher than 36 in. from the shower floor (unless meant for children, in which case it must be between 18 and 27 in. from the floor).

Showers must have a shower spray unit with a hose at least 59 in. long mounted no higher than 48 in. from the floor. It should be usable as either a fixed shower head or hand-held sprayer.

Disabled Access Bathtub with Grab Bar Hand Rails

Creating a Handicapped Accessible Shower

In addition to basing your shower design on ADA guidelines, you’ll want to think about how you can tailor your accessible shower to the user. Do you need a roll-in type shower (for wheelchairs) or a transfer type shower (for those who can walk but need to be seated while showering)? Consider whether they have needs beyond the ADA standards. Someone with a large build might need additional shower compartment space, for example.

If you know what you need but aren’t sure how to install it, that’s okay—there are many professional shower installation companies that offer fully ADA compliant systems that can be personalized and fitted into most bathrooms. If you have an existing shower with compliant dimensions, you might choose a shower surround system that installs in its place.

The Benefits of  Using ADA Tiles

A great way to complete your accessible shower is by opting for specialized ADA flooring. The truncated dome pattern on ADA tiles provides a tactile warning surface for those with visual impairments, allowing them to feel for the edges of the shower with their feet. The tiles’ texture also provides traction, protecting those with limited mobility from slipping on a slick shower floor.

ADA Solutions offers a variety of durable ADA detectable warning surface products that can help you create accessible spaces throughout your home or business. Plus, our tactile warning surface tiles are available in a variety of colors, allowing you to coordinate with décor without sacrificing functionality. Explore our selection online, or call us at (800) 372-0519.

Detectable Warning Surfaces Increase Safety, Ensure ADA Compliance

Detectable warning surfaces play an important role in our society’s efforts to improve safety and quality of life for men and women with disabilities. These truncated domes give sight-impaired people warning of hazards that may be present when they’re crossing streets or boarding trains or buses. A growing number of municipal governments and businesses are adopting them to meet Americans with Disability Act requirements and because it’s the right thing to do.

detectable warning surfaces truncated domes

 

Significant Sight-Impaired Population in the U.S.

There is a large population in the U.S. of the sight-impaired. The term “sight-impaired” is broad and covers a wide spectrum of people, including those who are legally blind and those who suffer from vision loss. According to the National Federation of the Blind, there are more than 7 million people in the U.S. who have significant vision loss. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people are visually impaired, and 39 percent of them are blind.

One of the major challenges of living with sight impairment is the impact it has on daily tasks that the sighted often take for granted. Tasks like walking to a nearby location or using public transportation become significantly more difficult—and even dangerous—when one cannot see obstacles and hazards in one’s path.

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that blind people have significantly more difficulty in safely crossing streets when they had to rely on hearing alone to navigate the crossing. Truncated domes on ground surfaces provide a tactile warning to sight-impaired people that hazardous conditions or a change in conditions lies ahead, reducing the chance that these men and women will be injured.

detectable warning surface on sidewalk

What Are Detectable Warning Surfaces?

Detectable warning surfaces are ground surfaces that have a distinctive pattern of truncated domes that sight-impaired people can detect using their feet or a cane. Detectable warning surfaces notify sight-impaired people that street crossings or hazardous drop-offs are ahead.

For example, at a pedestrian street crossing where the pedestrian route transitions to the street route with a flush instead of a curbed connection, detectable warning surfaces would alert sight-impaired pedestrians to this change. At train stations or bus stops, detectable warning surfaces are used to indicate unprotected drop-offs along the edges of boarding platforms.

blind man with seeing eye dog

The ADA & Detectable Warning Surfaces

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the major piece of U.S. legislation dealing with access to facilities for the disabled. Originally passed in the 90s during the first Bush Administration, the ADA provides protections to people with disabilities, similar to those granted to various ethnic and religious groups under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The ADA is a complicated piece of legislation and covers many things, including accommodations at work for the disabled and how private and public facilities are designed. Making the legislation even more complicated is the fact that it is updated from time to time by the Department of Justice.

In general, when new ADA rules come down, facilities owners don’t have to tear up existing facilities to comply with the new regulations. Instead, when and if they upgrade their facilities, new construction must comply with ADA rules. This keeps business owners and municipalities from having to spend a lot of money to upgrade facilities every time new rules are announced.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice released its 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which included new rules regarding facility design to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The new guidelines were intended to improve accessibility to public and private spaces for people with disabilities, including the sight-impaired. The 2010 regulations revised regulations established in 2001.

yellow detectable warning surface next to sidewalk

The new guidelines created new rules regarding slopes for walking surfaces and slip-resistance for ground surfaces. In addition to these requirements, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design also created new rules for detectable warning surfaces.

The 2010 revision created some more lenient technical requirements for truncated dome sizes and placement on detectable warning surfaces. According to the new rules, domes should have a diameter of 0.9 to 1.4 inches. Their center-to-center spacing should be between 1.6 to 2.4 inches. Dome height should be 0.2 inches. The new guidelines give builders and facilities owners a little more leeway regarding spacing and diameter.

The major impact of the 2010 revisions to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design concerned changes to where detectable warning surfaces are required. According to the 2001 standards, truncated domes were required on curb ramps, in front of doors to hazardous areas, at dangerous vehicular areas, at transit platforms, and around the edges of reflecting pools.

blind person crossing street

The new standards are less demanding. Detectable warning surfaces are now only required on curb ramps in the public right-of-way and on the edges of transit platforms.

For companies not sure about whether they’ll need to upgrade facilities with detectable warning surfaces, a conversation with the Department of Justice or a supplier of detectable warning surfaces may clear up any ambiguity in the matter.

While many businesses don’t have to comply with ADA rules regarding detectable warning surfaces, compliance may be a good option, anyway. Having these surfaces in place could help businesses fight claims of negligence should disabled people be harmed on their properties. Installing infrastructure to make a property more accessible will also win a business the support of the disabled community in their area and will certainly be good public relations for that business.

Investing in making your facilities more accessible to people with disabilities can provide a nice return on your investment. The disabled community is growing in influence and wealth, and catering to this often-overlooked population can be lucrative. Nielsen estimates that one in three households in the U.S. has a member with a disability, representing more than $1 billion in spending power.

People can’t shop where they can’t go, so, by improving your facilities to make them more accessible for people with limited vision, you open your business to a group of customers with whom few other companies are doing business.

Recent Upgrades to Public Facilities

As municipalities upgrade and replace their sidewalks and other pedestrian infrastructure, many are adopting detectable warning surfaces to comply with ADA regulations and to receive grants linked to compliance.

For example, in Leetsdale, PA, the city government recently received funds from the Community Development Block Grant initiative, a federal program that aids low to medium-income areas. The funds are being used to renovate sidewalks on a major thoroughfare to be wider and to incorporate detectable warning surfaces. CDBG grants require sidewalk renovation projects to be ADA compliant.

Woodland Park, N.J. recently received $575,000 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation for upgrades to an often-traveled streetscape. The project will make a stretch of McBride Avenue more pedestrian- and bike-friendly and allow more convenient access to local merchants. A number of ADA renovations are being funded by the project, including the installation of barrier-free curb ramps, detectable warning surfaces, and more.

For municipalities and businesses considering making ADA-compliant changes to their facilities, partnering with a reputable maker of ADA compliant building materials can help ensure these projects are a success.

ADA Solutions is a leading manufacturer of detectable warning surfaces in North America. In business for 20 years, the company manufactures a variety of tactile dome and related products, including easy to install cast-in-place surfaces, durable surface applied panels for existing concrete or new construction, radius systems for curving surfaces, and more. If you’re looking to upgrade facilities and need an ADA-compliant ground surface, consult with ADA Solutions now for safe and reliable products.

Sources

  1. https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358127/
  3. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2016/understanding-the-shopping-habits-of-the-disabled-consumer.html

 

The History and Evolution of Detectable Warning Surfaces

Detectable warning surfaces provide a valuable service for those individuals with visual impairments. They essentially serve as a warning that requires their attention ahead, such as entering a busy intersection, a rail platform dropoff, and so on. In addition, these warning surfaces alert non-visually impaired, yet distracted individuals of the same warnings.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), detectable warning surfaces are defined as a distinct surface with a pattern of raised domes that can easily be detected by the use of a cane or feet and serve to alert people of their approach to hazardous locations.1

ada detectable warning near escalator

Reasons Why There Are ADA Requirements

The ADA was initialed passed in 1990. The Act affords similar protections for those individuals with disabilities as found under the Civil Rights Act. There are several Title areas of the Act that relate to:

  • Title I: Employment
  • Title II: Public Entitles and Public Transportation
  • Title III: Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities
  • Title IV: Telecommunications
  • Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions

In regards to the requirements for detectable warning surfaces, Title II and Title III contain the information regarding the use of tactile warning surfaces. Title II focuses primarily on curbs, curb ramps, intersections, and other public areas where these surfaces are required. Title III focuses on altered/renovated or newly constructed places of public accommodations and commercial facilities.

Since the ADA was initially passed, there have been several updates to the regulatory compliances required for tactile warning surfaces. The most recent one was in 2010. It is the responsibility of facility managers, project managers, and others to ensure any existing, renovated or new construction meets the latest ADA requirements.

the americans with disabilities act

History of Detectable Warning Surfaces

Warning surfaces have gone through several generations since the ADA was first passed. Over the years, advancements have been made to ensure the truncated domes on the raised warning surfaces are durable and last a long time.

First Generation

The first generation solution was to simply stamp or score the concrete to create the elevated surfaces. It was a low-cost solution for contractors and builders since they only had to pour a new section of concrete in the required areas.

However, one major problem was that the concrete domes wore away quickly and could not easily be distinguished between cracks in the pavement and a warning surface. The use of this type of warning surface is not ADA-compliant under the current guidelines.

Second Generation

The second generation aimed to make improvements to warning surfaces by using bricks with raised domes. While the concept was much better than the first generation, there were still some issues with bricks.

To set bricks in place, the area around the location where the warning surface was to be installed had to be prepared using concrete. In addition, the ground underneath the bricks had to be compacted to ensure the bricks were level once installed. Gaps in between the bricks also had to be sealed to ensure they remained in place in the ground.

detectable warning brick surface

One reason bricks were not very successful is that the domes would wear off from being constantly walked on and from exposure to the elements. Furthermore, the bricks could become uneven, if not installed correctly, and create a slip, trip, and fall hazard. As such, truncated domed bricks are no longer allowed under the current ADA guidelines.

Third Generation

The third generation saw the introduction of surface-applied rubber and plastic domed solutions. These offered a better solution over the previous generations because they could be applied directly over an existing surface.

Contractors and construction workers no longer had to tear out sidewalks or other areas where truncated domes were required by the ADA. One concern when this solution first came out was the quality of the rubber and plastic materials used. They did not stand up to changes in temperatures, direct exposure to UV sunlight, and heavy foot traffic.

Yet one major change was the ability to create warning surfaces in a variety of colors, from yellow and red to blue and gray. Unfortunately, even with color options, the rubber or plastic would rip, tear, fade, and crack.

Whenever this occurred, the old one had to be completed removed and a new one installed. This led to ongoing maintenance in areas where these solutions were being used. In addition, they were not always installed in the exact location as required by the ADA.

Today, the ADA still does allow surface applied warning surfaces. However, they must be made from quality and durable materials. For instance, ADA Solutions surface-applied solutions are constructed of an exterior grade, high-quality fiberglass polymer composite material which is durable, weather resistant, and slip resistant.

Fourth Generation

The fourth generation saw the introduction of concrete inserts. This was a marked improvement over the original stamped or scored concrete. However, these inserts had similar problems to those truncated domes made from brick. The dome would wear off, the inserts could crack, and they were not designed for heavy foot traffic.

concrete detectable warning surface

These initial concrete inserts are no longer ADA compliant. Rather, there is a different type of concrete insert that addresses the previous concerns and problems, which the ADA does allow, although they can still be prone to weathering.

Fifth Generation

The fifth generation built upon the concept of using inserts and plastic-based materials. These new plastic inserts are commonly referred to as “Cast-in-Place” because they are set directly into the concrete while it is still wet.

The quality of the plastic materials was superior to concrete inserts. In addition, there is a variety of color options one can choose from when color is not mandated by state or local ordinances. The color of the insert resists fading from UV sunlight and is not prone to weathering like concrete.

Sixth Generation

The sixth generation saw new detectable warning surfaces being made from various metals, most often steel. The problem with steel warning surfaces is they had to be coated because you cannot color steel throughout. Even though steel is very durable, if the coating comes off, it leaves exposed steel that will rust and which could bleed into the pavement.

Metal inserts are still allowed under the ADA guidelines, so long as they meet the light-on-dark or dark-on-light requirement, as well as any state or local ordinances.

metal detectable warning surface

Seventh Generation

The latest generation of tactile systems includes several new products and solutions. Building upon the success of our high-quality surface applied products, we introduced our “Cast-in-Place Replaceable” panels in 2006. These panels have been a huge success and game changer and, so far, we have installed over 18 million square feet of our replaceable panel systems.

The replaceable feature makes it easy to swap out panels without having to tear up the concrete. Rather, the upper portion of the panel is removable and a new one can be installed in its place. This style is also popular when graphic tile systems are used as part of the warning surface.

Graphic tiles are a great way to incorporate images, logos, brands, or text messages into the ground. For instance, railway platforms could add text that says “Stand Back” or “Wait for Doors to Open before Boarding.”

Another type of product that we recently developed is our cast iron warning surface. The surfaces are made of durable cast iron and do not require coatings like steel and other metal warning surfaces. Since the dark cask iron color is consistent throughout, it maintains its appearance with its natural, unfinished state.

Radius systems are also another solution that we have brought to market in more recent years. This system transforms the traditional square or rectangular warning surfaces into arched and curved designs. This solution is perfect for corners at busy intersections or other areas where a curved or arch pattern is desired.

Last, this generation has seen the introduction of our Glow-Dome™ panels. These panels illuminate in lower light conditions to help provide non-visually impaired individuals with a distinct visual warning, as well as help guide them to emergency exits.

detectable warning surface on sidewalk

As you can see, detectable tactile warning surfaces have evolved quite a bit since 1990. Today you have numerous options to choose from that best suit your needs, from surface applied to cast-in-place and replaceable panels.

To learn more about our tactile dome systems and solutions or assistance in selecting the right warning surface products for your project, sidewalk, building, or another area, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions at (800) 372-0519 today!

Sources

  1. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way/guidance-and-research/detectable-warnings-update
  2. https://www.ada.gov/ada_title_II.htm
  3. https://www.ada.gov/ada_title_III.htm

 

All You Need to Know About ADA Curb Ramp Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes requirements to make public areas accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and motorized scooters through the use of ramps.1 These requirements are based on specific guidelines, depending on the type of ramp in use, its location, and other such factors.

Without curb ramps, curb edges and accessibility would create hazards for those people with disabilities. There are increased risks of falling out of a wheelchair or scooter or tripping while using a walker when going over an elevated curb. In addition, restricting access in public areas under current federal laws could be construed a form of discrimination against such individuals.2

ADA Wheelchair ramp sign

 

To help you have a better understanding of the ADA ramp specifications and requirements, we will look at some of the more commonly asked questions by business owners, building managers, and construction companies.

Where are curb ramps and ramps required by the ADA?

A facility must install curb ramps or ramps in public areas along accessible routes where there is a change in levels greater than one-half inch. However, in lieu of installing curb ramps and ramps, a facility may provide accessibility using elevators or platform/chair lifts.1 Furthermore, any accessibility routes which have a slope steeper than five percent have to be treated under the ADA ramp guidelines.

What is the minimum width requirement of curb ramps and ramps?

According to the ADA requirements, curb ramps and ramps must have a minimum width of at least thirty-six inches.1 If handrails, indentations, or other features are incorporated into the ramp’s design, they must not reduce the width below the thirty-six-inch requirement.

What is the maximum allowed rise for curb ramps and ramps?

The maximum allowed rise—the overall height of the ramp at its highest point—cannot exceed thirty inches. For heights that will exceed thirty inches, it is perfectly acceptable to install several smaller ramps with landing places in between each one.

handicapped curb ramp

Is there a maximum length curb ramps and ramps can be?

The ADA requirements do not have any restrictions on the length of curb ramps and ramps unless they exceed thirty inches in height. Then one must break up the ramp through the use of landings. However, excessively long ramps can be tiresome for those in wheelchairs or using walkers. In these cases, a chair/platform lift might be a much more appropriate solution.

What are the slope requirements for curb ramps and ramps?

The slope is directly related to the rise (height) and length of the ramp. The ADA curb ramp slope standards require the slope to be no more than a maximum of a 1:12 ratio or 8.33%. The slope must be uniform from one end of the ramp to the other, with a few exceptions for slight variations in the materials used to create the ramp. The only other exception is in regards to cross-sloped ramps, where the cross slope maximum is a ratio of 1:48. Furthermore, side flares used with certain curb ramp designs can only have a maximum of a 1:10 ratio.1

Are landings required as part of the curb ramp or ramp design?

Landings are required at the top and bottom of ramps, while curb ramps only require landings at the top. Landings should provide a minimum of sixty inches long and at least thirty-six inches wide for single ramps.1 Ramp landings may overlap door opening clearances so long as the door does not open into the landing area. It is highly recommended, when overlaps occur, for the door to swing open in the direction opposite the landing.

In ramp configurations that have multiple landings, each landing section has to be sixty inches long and sixty inches wide to allow for easier maneuverability. Curb ramps and ramps must also be designed to prevent the accumulation of water on the ramp itself, on landings, and at the bottom of the curb transition to the lower surface.

Benefits of Handicap Ramps

Where can built-up curb ramps be used?

Built-up curb ramps are ramps that are added off of a curb to allow for access. These are perfectly acceptable alternatives to use in certain locations, such as parking lots. However, they cannot project into vehicle traffic lanes, bus lanes, or bike paths. Nor can they project into parking spaces or restrict access to aisles.

Another alternative when a built-up curb ramp is not feasible and there is limited space is to install parallel curb ramps. This design is where there are ramps which run parallel to the sidewalk and that have landings which are a minimum of forty-eight inches wide at the base of each ramp.3

Can raised crossings be used instead of curb ramps?

Raised crossings are allowed under the ADA guidelines in locations where the entire crossing is raised to the elevation of the curb. For specific requirements, you need to review your local requirements in regards to the width, height, appropriate markings, and so on.

intersection curb ramp

What are the requirements for curb ramps used at intersections?

The ramp section, excluding flared sides, must be within the allowed space for the crosswalk, regardless of the markings used in the intersection. Curved curbs should have ramps placed so they are perpendicular around corners while still within the crosswalk space.1

Diagonal curb ramps are allowed to be used in place of two separate ramps for each crosswalk. However, the ramp must still transition at the bottom into the street inside the marked crossings for both crosswalks.

Please keep in mind, it is your responsibility to fully review the latest requirements, as there are regular updates made to the ADA. The most recent ones were made in 2016.

Detectable Warning Systems and Ramps and Curb Ramps

Aside from specific requirements for ramps and curb ramps, the ADA also includes a section regarding the use of detectable warning systems. The use of tactile raised domes at the top and bottom of ramps is not always required, except when used in public transportation areas, such as subways, train stations, and bus stations.

It is worth noting, both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have their own requirements in regards to the use of detectable tactile warning systems. These requirements can be in addition to those contained within the ADA.

detectable tactile warming systems

For curb ramps, the DOJ and DOT require that raised domes are used in areas that receive funding from the Federal Highway Administration, as well as in federal, state, and local government facilities.

However, since visually impaired individuals tend to use ramps and curb ramps for access, it is highly recommended that, even when there is no federal, state, or local requirement, facilities should still install truncated dome panels at the top and bottom of ramps to indicate a change in surface.

When the use of tactile warning curb ramps is required by federal, state, or local laws, they must comply with specific guidelines in regards to spacing, size, and contrast with the regular pavement surface. For instance, California laws have adopted the use of yellow as the only allowed color, with a few exceptions.

Furthermore, the placement of the warning surfaces can and does vary based on the location where it installed. For instance, in subway and rail stations with elevated platforms, the truncated domes must run the entire length of the platform.

ada compliant painted sidewalk

For more information about ADA sidewalk requirements and assistance in selecting the appropriate tactile warning systems, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions today at (800) 372-0519! We offer a variety of solutions, from cast-in-place replaceable to radius systems in a variety of colors and cast iron, as well as photoluminescent systems.

Sources

  1. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/guide-to-the-ada-standards/chapter-4-ramps-and-curb-ramps
  2. https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap6toolkit.htm
  3. https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/titleII_2010_regulations.htm#subpartd

How Detectable Warning Surfaces Work

Detectable warning surfaces are designed to help Americans with disabilities, or about 40 million individuals, safely navigate sidewalks and other public spaces. They are particularly useful for those with visual impairments and who use canes, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids.

The Purpose of Detectable Warning Surfaces

With a significant percentage of the population facing physical challenges, public spaces must accommodate everyone. A detectable warning surface provides tactile feedback about a person’s location. They can, for example, recognize the edge of a crosswalk, change in surface conditions, and where there may be oncoming road traffic.

When Did They Become Mandatory by the ADA?

The ADA mandated detectable warning surfaces in 1991. While the law differs by location, they’re required in all public areas where pedestrians are present. These include curb ramps, handicap ramps, in train and bus stations, and in other locations where preventing injuries can avoid physical harm and personal injury lawsuits.

How They Help the Visually Impaired or Those with Disabilities

Detectable warning surfaces alert people about changes in their environment. At a crosswalk or intersection, traffic may be ahead, or the elevation may change significantly. The products are also useful at bus stations and on train platforms, and anywhere a visually impaired person may otherwise not sense potential danger ahead.

Call ADA Solutions Today for Compliant Tactile Warning Surfaces
We offer Cast-in-Place Replaceable, Surface Applied, Cast-in-Place, and Radius System warning surfaces, featuring truncated domes and a strong fiberglass polymer composite, to meet a wide range of applications. Cast-iron, replaceable graphic tile, photoluminescent, and wayfinding surfaces are also available.

Read on for more about our ADA-compliant detectable warning surfaces online or call us toll-free at 800-372-0519.

How Detectable Warning Surfaces Work