Archinect
anchor

Has the ADA gone too far?

geezertect

A great, but off topic, conversation has started on the "nice architecture" thread.  It deserves its own thread.  So what do Archinectors think?  Is the ADA a good idea that has gone too far?

 
Oct 20, 17 10:14 am

2 Featured Comments

All 20 Comments

Non Sequitur

Not ADA specifically, but I just completed a large storage facility for Yatchs and other similar boats which is only occupied a few days per year yet, as per my accessibility code requirements, I had to provide a WC facility with space for adult diaper change table, operator & push-lock electric controls and panic alarms.

Oct 20, 17 10:23 am  · 
 · 
geezertect

Classic case!

Oct 20, 17 3:07 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

I really want to reply and say I was joking... but I'm not. It's built. I guess I'll look silly for questioning the AHJ's motives when a boat mechanic in a wheelchair needs his diaper changed.

Oct 20, 17 3:26 pm  · 
 · 
proto

table for adult diapers, huh?

Oct 20, 17 5:41 pm  · 
 · 
tintt

Is there wheelchair clearance in front of the adult diaper table? That would be the ultimate.

Oct 20, 17 7:59 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

^yes there is. Must provide clearance (transfer) space of 1830x710mm parallel to table.

Oct 20, 17 10:18 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

First of all, why does it matter how seldom a facility is used? "We only discriminate on the rare occasion that you, the person with a disability, want to use the facility." Sounds legitimate.

Oct 23, 17 1:07 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Ken, in my example above, the facility is not accessible to the public so there is very little chance anyone other than the few occasional staff will ever use the facility. It should be up to the employer, if required by unique staff health/disability, to build to suit... not force all building owners, regardless of programme (ie. seasonal warehouse) to design to the extreme.

Oct 23, 17 1:20 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

Non Sequitur, I agree that a facility not open to the public would not have the same likelihood that a person with a disability would use it. But the code is reasonable. The ADA and every equivalent state accessibility code do not require having a restroom (that's a local building code issue), and if a restroom is provided it doesn't require diaper changing stations or automatic doors or push lock electric controls etc.

It simply says that if you have a water closet (commode), design it with adequate clearances and install grab bars (and all the other sensible low-cost requirements like lowering mirrors and protecting pipes under the lavatory from contact etc.), for that rare opportunity that an employee might some day need them.  Employees don't have to be in wheelchairs to benefit from many of the ADA requirements - hey could have bad knees and the grab bars help with seating; they could be of short stature and the lowered mirror and reach ranges are beneficial; they could be deaf and the flashing strobes could save their life; they could have manual dexterity issues and the lever hardware enable ease of use for associated elements.

I appreciate your concern for excesses in the ADA; there are indeed plenty of ways in which the ADA exceeds its intended mandate.  But the design issues you raised are not among them.

Ken

Oct 23, 17 1:48 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Ken, hence my "Not ADA related" statement at the front of my comment. My building code is much more stringent than the ADA I read about here.

Oct 23, 17 2:11 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

I see. Sorry if I misunderstood. Which code is that?

Oct 23, 17 2:18 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Ken, I practice in Ontario, Canada. In the worst of cases, we must comply with both the provincial code (OBC), national code (NBC) and CSA B651-12 (Accessible Design for the Built Environment). There is also a universal public rights type zoning available but is not yet law since it's more about services / fit-up than building.

Oct 23, 17 2:48 pm  · 
 · 
archinine
Honestly yes. There should be more exceptions. Everything looks practically the same because of it. In some jurisdictions there's literally one single door lever anyone can use. Its gotten ridiculous in certain instances. But initially yes it seems a good idea.
Oct 20, 17 10:41 am  · 
 · 
randomised

Then there's only one single design that meets the requirements, it's a design issue, not an ADA issue. Manufacturers, designers or architects can design more levers that fit but they choose not to, because capitalism.

Oct 20, 17 1:29 pm  · 
 · 
wurdan freo

Because capitalism... you trying to turn this into a dumpster fire? Dumbest comment I've read in a while. How many choices do you think you would have under any other form of market?

Oct 20, 17 2:38 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

Can't force people to design or produce something they don't want to, if that's your idea of a dumpster fire...

Oct 20, 17 2:49 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

unchecked capitalism is no different than rigid, state-controlled marxism. there is no free market. stop perpetuating, and peddling that fantasy, wurdan.

Oct 20, 17 3:15 pm  · 
 · 
wurdan freo

Wrong. Both of you could go and start a fucking architectural hardware company tomorrow. Designer ada levers for everyone.

Oct 21, 17 1:09 pm  · 
 · 
wurdan freo

Back to the oringinal point... please explain how capitalism limits the amount of levers we have to choose from and how any other market system would result in a greater variety of lever designs.

Oct 21, 17 1:11 pm  · 
 · 

The problem is for some technical/cultural problems the solutions are limited, for example we have until recently had a limited variety of light switches. We have three types of wall outlets in the US (not counting USP ports) and we drive walk to the right. In the US exit signs are red letters the spell out EXIT with little arrows. This limits things, even complex things like revolving doors conform to standards, it is up to designers to weave design and aesthetics into these standards and regulations. Codes zoning ADA if you can work with these restrictions and come up with decent designs good architecture is possible even with ramps and accessible sinks.

Oct 23, 17 9:52 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

Wurdan relax, greed is good bladibladibla.

Oct 23, 17 10:11 pm  · 
 · 
x-jla

Was just at IKEA looking for a cheap file cabinet....I think the number of handicapped parking spaces at IKEA is ridiculous.  There are like 100 spaces right in front.  When have 100 handicapped people been in an IKEA at the same time.  Like a 1:100000000 chance. 

Oct 20, 17 10:41 am  · 
 · 
JLC-1

handicap permits are easy to obtain, and hardly ever returned - the fine is minimal. You can get one for a sprained toe.

Oct 20, 17 10:57 am  · 
 · 
JonathanLivingston

Also can be obtained for obesity, or at least many of the health problems that go along with it. 100 obese people at Ikea...Everyday all the time.

Oct 20, 17 1:40 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

But in that case all those handicapped parking spaces would be in use at IKEA.

Oct 20, 17 2:02 pm  · 
 · 
JLC-1

go around lunchtime

Oct 20, 17 2:03 pm  · 
 · 

I don't find the parking space numbers that ADA requires to be that many. If anything, I'd see this as a case of needing too much parking in general, which is a zoning issue. Have you ever been to IKEA and seen every parking space filled up? If you have, and there are still a bunch of empty accessible spaces, then you might have an argument.

Oct 20, 17 6:52 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

I've personally never seen all handicapped parking occupied at IKEA or similar places, does that mean there are too many handicapped spots? I've never seen their parking totally packed so maybe there are just too many parking spaces planned in general, talking about wasted space.

Oct 21, 17 3:18 am  · 
 · 
x-jla

I have seen their parking lot and parking lots of similar places full while most handicapped spots where open. It happens all of the time when I go to a grocery store during busy hours.

Oct 21, 17 6:46 pm  · 
 · 
spiketwig

my local IKEA lot is pretty much always completely full, and generally the accessible spaces are...mostly unused.

Oct 23, 17 12:47 pm  · 
 · 
JLC-1

The idea of ADA is fine and necessary, it's the abuse on one hand and over-zealousness on the other that has gotten a bit crazy - and ambulance chasers.....

Oct 20, 17 11:05 am  · 
 · 

"Gone too far" is a pretty non-specific data point.

Has structural safety gone too far? Has hurricane resistance gone too far? Has tightly sealed envelope technology gone too far?  Has pervious paving and rainwater collection gone too far?

I'd love to have a real conversation about accessibility in architecture, but what criteria are we using?

Oct 20, 17 11:34 am  · 
 · 
Featured Comment
thatsthat

Thank you! This is exactly what I was wondering. Are we saying the requirements are too stringent? The amount of space needed for ADA clearances is too much of the building? The financial cost of some of these fixtures/conveyance systems is too much? Sometimes I think yes to all of the above, but then I think about how different my experience in a building would be if I were in a wheelchair or seeing impaired, and it changes my mind.

Oct 20, 17 11:41 am  · 
 · 
s=r*(theta)

think of the cost on public projects once his, hers, use to be a he, now a he but was once a her, and undecided what i am today but catch me tomorrow at 3pm, restroom laws get passed.

Oct 20, 17 12:31 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

A lot of our owner's reps for public projects ask for family restrooms in addition to male/female restrooms. Honestly I guess it depends on the scope/budget of the project to consider if it's a big undertaking to add an additional restroom.

Oct 20, 17 12:35 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

What's a family restroom?

Oct 20, 17 1:13 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

^Unisex most likely. Although it's not written in black & white, all of our projects now include one unisex & accessible washroom.

Oct 20, 17 1:40 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

I like the idea of unisex washrooms, makes me feel at home.

Oct 20, 17 2:06 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

Nice casual misunderstanding of trans identities to make their humanity dismissable there, theta.

Oct 20, 17 2:23 pm  · 
 · 
s=r*(theta)

What sex is unisex? one sex?

Oct 20, 17 2:28 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

Family restroom = ADA accessible with 1 toilet, 1 sink, and diaper changing station. It's typically a little larger than ADA requires, plus has thumbturn so more privacy than the regular men's/women's restroom with a bunch of stalls. It's good for parents who have small kids (maybe they had an accident and need to change their clothes) or a big stroller or a mom who would like to breastfeed in privacy. Its easier for them (mom/dad) than trying to fit the stroller into the ADA accessible stall.

Oct 20, 17 5:52 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

Thanks thatsthat.

Oct 21, 17 3:29 am  · 
 · 

The unisex "family" restrooms is a way to allow a father to accompany a very young daughter to the toilet when they are at an age where they might need supervision when using a public toilet, same with sons or daughters. Also if you have someone with a severe mobility impairment and they need a caregiver to help use the restroom it is good to have unisex bathrooms so if a male patient and a female caregiver need to use a restroom.

Oct 23, 17 9:21 pm  · 
 · 
s=r*(theta)

I always understood uni- to mean one, like unicycle is one wheel. That's still (2) sex's. im not familiar w/ a unisex restroom, it's either male or female sex. should it not then be bi-sex restroom or dual-sex?

Oct 24, 17 2:23 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

I don't get how people often see accessibility as an afterthought or necessary evil in buildings. There's a design and there's a budget and oh heck we have to make it accessible too, darn there go the nice finishings! It should be something taken into consideration from the first sketch as an integral part of the design.(not talking about follies or pavilions obviously)

Oct 20, 17 1:23 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

Amen! Sometimes it can be a struggle trying to incorporate (especially with existing buildings) but it should be considered from SD, not crammed in at the end.

Oct 20, 17 5:55 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

Cost/benefit always has to be a major criteria, as well as basic common sense.  A dozen or so handicapped spaces at a grocery store may be reasonable, but what about at the trail head of a mountain climbing area?  Elevators in a multi-story public commercial building may be reasonable, but would you require one in a private residence?  Reasonable turning areas in restrooms are fine, but do they have to be big enough for wheelchair races?  I don't know where the line is on all of this.

As a side note, if the goal is improved safety for handicapped, my own city will jump down your throat on ADA compliance, but refuses to do a damn thing in its own wheelhouse, like enforcing the snow removal ordinance already on the books.  Even many commercial areas are allowed to be ice skating risks for days after a storm.

Don't get me started.

Oct 20, 17 2:12 pm  · 
 · 
s=r*(theta)

Like minnesota req's 5'x7' clear space in toilet area, im like really?

Oct 20, 17 2:43 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

I have a 1600x1830mm min requirement for all accesible stalls... and at least one urinal needs to be no-higher than 400mm AFF. Has anyone tried using the children ones at the movie theatre? This is the same, but in an office building.

Oct 20, 17 3:29 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

Unbelievable! "Cost/benefit always has to be a major criteria?" First of all, in new construction the increase in cost to design and construct a facility that is fully accessible in negligible but the benefit is tremendous (if you are a person with a disability). "Basic common sense" is not what you are using here: A dozen or so handicapped spaces at a grocery store may be reasonable, but what about at the trail head of a mountain climbing area? Elevators in a multi-story public commercial building may be reasonable, but would you require one in a private residence? Reasonable turning areas in restrooms are fine, but do they have to be big enough for wheelchair races? I don't know where the line is on all of this.

Oct 23, 17 1:27 pm  · 
 · 

Building the accessible clearances in from day one is a lot less expensive than renovating latter on to accommodate an employee, homeowner/tenant.

Oct 23, 17 9:24 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

I have to agree with Donna... it's like TV News teasers. If you're just going to pitch a rhetorical question, the answer by default is 'No'

Oct 20, 17 2:22 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

Not a rhetorical question at all. Just soliciting opinions/war stories about whether ADA requirements have become excessive, counter productive, too expensive, etc.

Why is the default answer "no"?

Oct 20, 17 3:05 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

Because, as Donna mentioned, there is no benchmark. "Too far" compared to what? Or in what way? There's no counterpoint. Without at least an example of what the ideal state is, or an example of a particularly egregious overstep, I have no reason to think there's anything wrong with ADA.

I suppose you could say I'm being a little pedantic with my terms of debate, but I'm fine with that.

Oct 21, 17 7:14 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

hasn't gone far enough. until we reach the point of Universal Design, like Single-Payer, anything else is a half-measure.

Oct 20, 17 3:16 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

Drive through any American city and it looks like we're getting close.

Oct 20, 17 4:57 pm  · 
 · 
citizen

How dare you ask an open-ended question about something we as a profession deal with regularly, without first precisely defining quantifiable parameters, geezertect?

Seriously, it's like you read most of the threads and posters on here and just did what they do.  Heresy.

Oct 20, 17 5:44 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

I've been a very, very bad boy.

Oct 20, 17 6:03 pm  · 
 · 
citizen

Very disappointed here. Very.

Oct 20, 17 6:12 pm  · 
 · 
archinine
To clarify all the levers I mentioned look identical, not all are from the same manufacturer...

This was an example pointing out the same as others have here, how certain items have become so over regulated there is no variation whatsoever yet the purpose is arguably limited to nonexistent. Such as the mechanics diaper station...
Oct 20, 17 7:33 pm  · 
 · 
citizen

So, to clarify... who's the lucky person changing the giant diaper in that scenario? Are giant safety pins involved? A 10-gallon jug of talc?

Oct 20, 17 7:38 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

citizen, the change table in my example, normally referred to as nursing bench, is intended for people who normally move around with an assistant. At the moment, we are only required to make space but I have other colleagues who straight up add full 400lb adjustable chnge tables to their specs.

Oct 20, 17 10:21 pm  · 
 · 
citizen

Thank you for that info.  I haven't seen this requirement before.

Oct 20, 17 10:40 pm  · 
 · 
archinine
I always thought it was such a waste of space to have two or in some cases three (family) sets of restrooms. They take up so much space as it is. Do we really need all that. After all people seem to manage sharing a regular toilet at home...why do men need urinals in public bathrooms? These can only be used for one sex for one activity. Seems like the whole problem of the intersex trans etc spectrum could be solved in a single room with a swath of uni or multi whatever you want to call it - plain toilets. This would also solve those situations where functions tend to draw an imbalance of one or the other, causing a huge line for one restroom and a ghost town on the other side with everyone too afraid to dare enter the 'wrong' toilet facility. But alas the mixing of the sexes remains abhorrent to so much of society that it's written out in minute detail in our code books to have them separate.
Oct 20, 17 9:15 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

But alas, the mixing of the sexes remains abhorrent to so much of society? Are you kidding me? Maybe so much of society has a point! You and your opinion, my friend, are abhorrent. I will warn my kids about you.

Oct 23, 17 1:43 pm  · 
 · 
curtkram

adaag has not gone too far.

except the part that says a drop-in sink in a 34" countertop is not accessible because the lip is over 34".  that's fucked up.  now everyone who makes a dishwasher that fits in a 34" cabinet has to redesign to fit 33 1/2" or some shit like that?  come on.  that's fucked up.  it removes plastic laminate as an option.

Oct 21, 17 12:29 am  · 
 · 
geezertect

And the reason the lawyer can get away with it is because ADA is now in the realm of civil rights, in which a violation, in theory at least, can bring about criminal sanctions. A 1/2" lip on a sink can become a hate crime. Ridiculous.  So, the lawyer shows up and the building owner/builder/designer are quaking in their boots and agree to an absurd settlement just to make the problem go away.  It's an extortion racket.

Oct 21, 17 8:25 am  · 
 · 
tintt

Next time, build up the flooring in front of the sink.

Oct 21, 17 12:38 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

But don't forget the ramp.

Oct 23, 17 11:22 pm  · 
 · 

First I don't think ADA has gone too far. ADA is 17 years old and out of date, FHA guidelines coming on two decades, they were written with a whole section on trash compactors.  It is hard to update these regulations, and they are incomplete as there is no provisions fully safeguarding the bind on a federal level. The places you see the bumps at the tops of stairs or at crosswalks are local or state mandates not federal.  The fact is the number of disabled people will grow as we live longer. A lot of the adaptations prescribed in the ADA are quite useful once you get old, like limiting the height of door thresholds.  The clear floor space, reach ranges, knee and toe clearance, and door maneuvering clearances were developed through a lengthy process of trial and evaluation using real people in real situations. Making the wheel chairs taller is dangerous and can lead to tipping. People with no sensation in their legs need to have the pipes protected so they don't cut or bruise themselves (have you ever swung your knee into the side of a desk or table?) these rules are there and the scoping requirements are high because we have decades of discriminatory building to make up for.


If we live long we will all be needing these regulations at some point.

May we all live long

Over and OUT

Peter N

Oct 23, 17 9:41 pm  · 
 · 
kenotten

Well said, sir.

Oct 24, 17 1:59 am  · 
 · 
archinine
Yet we're still friends kitten.
Oct 23, 17 10:29 pm  · 
 · 
go do it

Just work on tribal land and you don't have to worry about ADA! I'm doing a small office/administration building and we have just one little sink and countertop that is ADA and the only reason they did that is just because it might get used by a visitor.

The tribe has their own inspector so they can do whatever they want. After all it is their country.

Oct 23, 17 11:29 pm  · 
 · 
senjohnblutarsky

I have had AHJs kill entire projects trying to make them wholly accessible.  Client didn't have the budget for that.  The things they were requiring would have far exceeded the total budget.  

I had one instance where a handicapped individual (employee of client who was the main occupant of the space) had a very specific toilet grab bar request.  AHJ wouldn't let that happen because it didn't comply with the ADA.  

I won't say the ADA goes too far.  It's fine as a baseline.  But enforcement of it often goes against common sense. 


I will complain about things changing though.  The signage height change has been a giant pain in my ass.  Recent buildings (done under 2004) are having to relocate their signs due to non-compliance with 2010. It's a minor issue, at best.  But, all it takes is some group coming in and doing an audit of the space, then threatening litigation.  Then the client has to go out and pay for more signs.  At $25-$35 per sign, that starts to add up.  Oh, and contractors still don't have a clue about the change... even though it has been in effect since 2010. 

Oct 24, 17 8:41 am  · 
 · 
Featured Comment
mightyaa

Everyone thinks permanently disabled.  People get injured and need accomodations.  So the boat mechanic breaks his leg.  Before ADA, people were fired if they couldn't perform their job due to a physical limitation... basically if you couldn't recover within your alloted sick days, you lost your job.  There were lawsuits about that stuff.

It isn't as 'good hearted' as you think; flip your perceptions.  Rather than forcing employers to pay salaries for folks who didn't show up to work because they couldn't navigate the building or were slow performers because of the company not accomodating them or opening them up to liability if they terminate you, they took that excuse away... The government set the standard that no matter how awful you feel or hurt, as long as your employer has accomodated you using these minimum standards, you have to work.  

Think of it like this.  You tear your acl skiing and will be on cruches or wheelchair for 8+ weeks going through operations and recovery.  You will still be expected to show up for work and do your job.  In the past, you might be able to argue that you can't come in because you can't move around to do your job and sue the employer if he terminates your position (getting you a nice 8 week vacation while the employer deals with being shorthanded).  Now and these days, if they accomodated per the law, you don't have a case.  Don't show or poorly perform and they can fire you...  ADA protects businesses as much as it does the disabled.  

Oct 24, 17 11:15 am  · 
 · 
JonathanLivingston

This is a good perspective. Also articulates the need for supplemental insurance / short term disability coverage. AFLACK! I learned this one time when I broken my right arm and got it mounted in a cast at a right angle with a little strut connecting to my shoulder. I had a drafting job at the time. Fortunately I was able to run Autocad with only my left hand, though the concentration it took to get through the day and keep productivity at an expected level was completely exhausting. I'm not sure I could do it again in my older years when I'm actually more injury prone. That was one of the hardest months of work I have ever had.

Oct 24, 17 12:37 pm  · 
 · 
tintt

Accessible Means of Egress - there's an ADA and does it work subtopic for you guys. 

Nov 8, 17 4:45 pm  · 
 · 

ADA....remember Americans with Disabililities Act require from the first upbringings of Americans in struggle with the issues of mobility, independence, and the American Constitution in which Americans were protected by the U.S.A. government, both National wide and State to State encounters.  Deaf Americans, crippled Americans, Americans of surivivalist modes by defranchise of American capitalists tend to pay taxes within the residential arrears.  The engress by entrance to the exit mode must accmodate these requirements as held by the laws, the policies in these technicalities of factors and by dividing forces.  Americans at these numbers of populations from infancy to old age react to the laws of ADA compliances for every annual currents.  Repopulation of Americans must begin within the American civilization from beginning to the future of Americanisms and these issues which arise upon these ways of life.

Nov 8, 17 6:49 pm  · 
 · 
x-jla

Crack is Whack!

Nov 8, 17 9:45 pm  · 
 · 
x-jla

Wtf

Nov 8, 17 9:48 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

Oh man, I'm going to write a thesis on this!

Nov 9, 17 1:21 am  · 
 · 

Block this user


Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: