Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is dwarfism a disability?

Most of us think of the Americans with Disabilities Act only for disabled people, such as wheel chair users, blind people and the deaf.  But what about the millions of people that are shorter than 4'-0" tall? They are called "Little People" and suffer from conditions such as dwarfism and others.  Their condition prevents them from reaching things the same as others.  In a hotel, especially, there are challenges for them. 

Think about how we use a hotel.  When we check in we have a reception counter that is typically taller than 4'-0" high.

Then once we are in our rooms, we have to hang things up in the closets, but the rods are typically higher than 54" high and it is difficult for "Little people" to use.

When designing in a Universal way, we need to keep in mind not only the mobility impaired, the visually and hearing impaired but the vertically challenged individuals who are extremely independent and would benefit from the sensitivity to give them a better quality of life.  My friend Charles Stark sent me this article and I think it is worth reading to better understand this topic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I was on

One of the things that I find amazing is how I've been meeting the most amazing, influential people through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook! 

As I'm hoping a lot of you know by now, I have a book coming out in April called The ADA Companion Guide: Understanding the ADAAG (Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines) and the ABA (Architectural Barriers Act), published by John Wiley and Sons.  I got this book deal when I met my publisher on LinkedIn when he joined my discussion group: Abadi Accessibility News.

Then yesterday I was reading a post on LinkedIn about Twitter and met Joseph Blythe who hosts the Internet Cafe on  He asked me to join him this morning on his radio show and we talked about how I Tweet and how Twitter has helped my business.  I guess I must have done a good job because here is what Joseph said one of his listeners said:

"Thank you Marcela some people send me e-mail about the show today, They said you were very well informed, perhaps you could write articles. And i got one e-mail from a guy who listened to the audio said you told him more in 15 minutes than the book he paid for LOL thank you and your welcome to come back on the show anytime."

Take a listen and let me know what you think

And feel free to follow me on Twitter

What accessories and appliances should I use?

If you ever wondered where to find accessories and appliances that will work with your design and also comply with the TAS requirements for sinks and electric water coolers, here are some suggested items I found in the past”

1. Disposal that fits at accessible sink area with protective skirt:

This disposal is 12” high and it will fit behind the skirt that we usually put in front of the pipes for knee space.

2. Kid’s sink that meets TAS requirements for children.

a. Children’s sinks are required to have the faucet at 18” from the edge of the counter. This sink allows you to have it. The drinking piece can be changed so you don’t need to have it.

3. Apron for water cooler in order to have a 27” cane detection

If you ever have a situation where you can’t build an alcove for the water cooler, and it will be considered a protruding object, try putting a “skirt” on the unit that will be detectable by a cane. When you add the skirt, the high unit will reach the 27” required for cane detection. This company (Haws) has a couple of options (Model No. SK2 that fits their water cooler no. HWBFA8L). There are other companies, but this one had a photo for you to see.

Abadi Accessibility does not endorse any of these products. The information provided in this email is just for education purposes. There are other companies that have similar products that will work the same way.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Opening a locker is not so easy without the use of your hands

When we design schools, dressing rooms or transportation facilities that have lockers we have to think about the 5% of the lockers which have to be accessible.  Not only do we have to provide room for wheel chairs, and a bench for transfering, but we also must remember to make the operating mechanism accessible.  That means that we have to provide a mechanism that can be operated without tight grasping or twisting of the wrist to operate. 

The following video explains this for a product (Key 1636) that provides a key large enough to act like a lever.  It is very interesting!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride Week in Dallas, Texas

On Saturday, March 27, DFW will host the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride. In fact, March 21 – March 27 is officially Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride Week in Dallas.

The ride is registered, and not cheap: it’s $50, plus any additional donations you may be able to raise. It’s a wonderful cause, helping young disabled veterans recover an active lifestyle, and the ride is unforgettable and inspiring. PLUS--I am the ride director, and I’ve never done this before, so I am hoping some of my cycling buddies will participate!

Here is the info on the ride:

The DFW Soldier Ride starts at 10 am, Saturday, March 27 at the Dallas VA, (4500 Lancaster Rd) and winds up at the Ft Worth Police Academy.

The Wounded Warrior Project is bringing 25 disabled service vets to ride the 40 miles between Dallas and Ft Worth. Local riders are invited to join them, and form teams--it’s a registered fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. Individuals can ride along, or support the ride as volunteers, donors, or come out to see the ride along the route.

Onsite registration will be available at 8:30am on the 27th; 

Disabled vets ride free; volunteer marshals, etc. are WELCOME—call me!

The ride officially ends at 4pm with the mayor of Ft Worth at the Police Academy, and there are a number of cool events in downtown Ft Worth that day. Those who wish, will have a free train ride back to Dallas—bikes are fine on the train.

Thanks for passing this around--please mention the event, post it to your site, and let people know we want them!

PS—we are on facebook, too!

Thank you,

Maribeth Lipscomb
Ride Director, Dallas

Officer Allen Speed
Ride Director, Ft Worth

John DiCarlantonio
National Ride Director

Fire exits are not only for people who can "run" out of a burning building

According to the March/April 2005 National Fire Protection Association Journal, “Roughly 20% of the U.S. population is disabled, including those who have mobility impairments, who are deaf or hard of hearing, who are blind or partially sighted, people of size, the elderly, those who have cognitive or emotional impairments and those who are vertically challenged.” As a result, it is of the highest importance that measures be taken to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency. This includes providing adequate refuge space and means of communication, where required, alternative means and routes of evacuation other than elevators and clearly illustrating available accessible evacuation routes on emergency evacuation plans. In addition to this, it is critical that building staff be trained in general evacuation procedures. The American Disabilities Act (ADA), signed in 1990, requires that that all newly constructed buildings be accessible to people with disabilities.

Chapter 3 defines Egress as:

3.5.26 Means of Egress. A continuous and unobstructed way of exit travel from any point in a building or facility to a public way.

This photo shows an accessible route striped with a curb ramp leading to the public sidewalk.

This part of the definition is always a point of contention. How far does one consider the “public way”? The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, requires that the means of egress be taken to a public sidewalk. In the absence of a public sidewalk, they defer to requirements from the fire Marshall.

Means of Egress in New Construction

4.1.3 in the ADAAG and in the Texas Accessibility Standards we find the requirements for new construction.

TAS and ADA 4.1.3 (9) states:

“In buildings or facilities, or portions of buildings or facilities, required to be accessible, accessible means of egress shall be provided in the same number as required for exits by local building/life safety regulations….”

For example, if the building code requires two means of egress and two are provided, then both those exits must be on an accessible route. On the other hand, if a building code only requires two means of egress but four are provided, only two must be accessible.

Means of Egress at Alterations

It is exempted….

Believe it or not, in an existing facility where renovations are being made to a primary area, the means of egress does not have to be brought up to compliance with the accessibility standards if it is not accessible.

TAS 4.1.6 (1) (g) states:

“In alterations, the requirements of 4.1.3(9), 4.3.10 and 4.3.11 do not apply.”

4.1.3(9) speaks about the means of egress requirements stated above. 4.3.10 discusses egress and 4.3.11 discusses areas of rescue assistance. These sections will not apply in an alteration.

The picture above shows an existing building that was renovated, and this was one of their required exits. Since the exit was existing, it will not be required to be brought up to compliance.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why argue? This sink is not accessible!!!!

Sometimes in the accessibility guidelines and standards there might be figures that are vague and could be interpreted in different ways.  Then there are very clear rules where there is no question what the requirments are.

Figure 31 of the ADAAG shows the clearances that are required under a lavatory or sink

There are several dimensions that let you know how much space there should be provided so that the wheelchair user can fit under the sink.  Notice the 8" min horizontal dimension from the front of the sink back towards the bowl.  There is no question that this 8" is a requirement.

I performed an inspection where this 8" was ommitted.  The photo below is of the sink in question.

The architect had drawn the correct drawing which showed the 8" horizontal for the knees.  Lucky for me, I brought the drawings with me to show the Owner.  The contractor argued.  He said that this was sufficient for a knee space.  Of course this is not acceptable and they will have to fix it (and hopefully the Owner will not have to pay for the fix since it was the contractor's mistake).

Why argue?  It is clearly not built per Fig. 31 and there is no question that the 8" was not provided.  This profile will not be able to be accessed by a wheelchair.  So just fix it!!!!