Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Expand your sphere of influence with the disabled community

We are looking for Sponsors for the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Dallas Texas. Join this great day!

Thank you to our sponsors so far:
AIA Dallas, TRASA, RTP Codes Consultants, Fast Signs, Abadi Accessibility

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary signing of the
Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights Law

On the 26th of July 2010
Sponsorship Opportunities

The Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Registered
Accessibility Specialists Association are coordinating a day of programs to enhance accessibility
awareness of the momentous civil rights law for the disabled community. The federal
government’s civil rights law was instigated in an effort to eliminate the architectural and cultural
barriers that exist for the disabled citizens of the United States of America.
Please consider being a financial contributor for this very special day in the history of America
by becoming a sponsor. All proceeds will be donated to accessibility Ramp projects on the
campus of The University of Texas at Arlington. The categories of sponsorship opportunities are as follows:

Hero: $1,000

AIA Affiliate membership which gives you the opportunity to do three lunch and learns to our
members and other benefits. Mention in all published literature, and email campaigns with your
logo and links to your website ,free admission to the Texas Discovery Gardens event, free July
issue of Columns magazine and verbal mention in all the events of the day.

Supporter: $500

Mention in all published literature, and email campaigns with your logo and links to your
website, free admission to the Texas Discovery Gardens event, free July issue of Columns
magazine, andverbal mention in all the events of the day.
Advocate: $350

Mention in all published literature, and email campaigns with your logo, free July issue of
Columns magazine and verbal mention in all the events of the day.

Friend: $150
Logos in all printed material, free July issue of Columns magazine, Verbal mention in all the
events of the day

For more information or to donate contact Marcela Abadi Rhoads, AIA RAS at
marhoads@abadiaccess.com or 214-403-8714

Monday, June 21, 2010

What guidelines do I follow?

One of my clients asked me yesterday why isn't there just one accessibility standard rather than having so many to follow....If I knew the answer to that I could probably cause Peace on earth....
But alas, since there are so many all I can do is help you to figure out which standard to use when.

ADA Standards

The ADA applies to facilities in the private sector (places of public accommodation and commercial facilities) and to state and local government facilities. Standards issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) apply to all ADA facilities except transportation facilities, which are subject to standards maintained by the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOJ is in the process of adopting new ADA standards, and further information on this update is available on DOJ’s website . DOT has adopted new ADA standards which apply to bus stops, rail stations, and other transportation facilities.

For commercial facilities and places of public accommodations in the private sector use The ADAAG 1991 version

For State and Local Government Facilities (except transportation facilities) use the ADAAG 1991 version or The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)

The ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities deal with Transportation Facilities

ABA Accessibility Standards

The ABA applies to federally funded facilities. The General Services Administration (GSA) updated its ABA standards, which apply to most facilities covered by the ABA. Similar standards have been adopted by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for postal facilities and by the Department of Defense for military facilities. The Department of Housing (HUD) is in the processing of updating its ABA standards, which apply to federally funded residential facilities.

For Federal Facilities (other than postal, housing, and military facilities)  use the GSA's AB Standards

For Postal Services facilities use the USPS ABA Accessibility Standards (also known as the RE-4 Standards)

For Military facilities use the Department of Defense ABA Accessibility Standards

Federally funding Housing use  UFAS (but in the new standards this will be replaced by HUD's standards)

State and Local  Accessibility Standards
Even though the ADAAG is a Federal law, each State and local municipality is allowed to adopt this or any other accessibility standard also.  The Access Board has a list of all the States and what Accessibility Standards they adopted

Note: A few friends on LinkedIn have sent me these corrections:

The Connecticut information listed is obsolete. The correct information is as follows:
Access Code- 2003 International Building Code Portion of the 2005 State Building Code of Connecticut- as amended on 2009 )

Washington State's code listing on the Access Board site is obsolete as well. WA has adopted the 2006 IBC/2003 ANSI and will shift to 2009 IBC/2003 ANSI in late July.

Multi-Family housing
The Housing and Urban Development office of the Federal Government has developed the Fair Housing Act Section 504 that deals with the discrimination of people with disabilities as it pertains to their renting or owning an apartment or dwellling unit.  There is a great handbook that they created that shows you graphically how to apply the Fair Housing Act Section 504
Public Rights of Way

Sidewalks, street crossings, and other elements of the public rights-of-ways present unique challenges to accessibility for which specific guidance is considered essential. The Board is developing new guidelines for public rights-of-way that will address various issues, including access for blind pedestrians at street crossings, wheelchair access to on-street parking, and various constraints posed by space limitations, roadway design practices, slope, and terrain. The new guidelines will cover pedestrian access to sidewalks and streets, including crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, pedestrian signals, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. Here is the draft of those standards Public Rights-of-way

There are others that are covered by the guidelines like parks, outdoor recreation facilities, prisons and more.  Check out the Access Board's website  and the ADA's website for more information

Sunday, June 20, 2010

ADA Awareness Day in Dallas, Texas

ADA Awareness Day
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Local architects, disability advocates and City officials are collaborating to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) civil rights law. 
The Act was signed into law by George Bush on July 26, 1990.  July 26. 2010 has been proclaimed by Mayor Tom Leppert as ADA Awareness day in the City of Dallas and ADA Celebration Day by Mayor Phil Dyer in the City of Plano .
Sponsored by

HERO                    FRIEND

rtp      bobrick     apple    bda   access logo

IN-KIND                                                                  ORGANIZERS
fast signs                   trasa.jpg       aia_logo.jpg                        

Proclamation Announcement with Kent Waldrep Keynote speaker
10:00 Dallas City Hall

Kent Waldrep will honor us with his participation as our Kick-off speaker to the ADA Awareness Day in Dallas.  He will speak at the Dallas City Hall at 10:00 a.m. on July 26th 2010.  His inspiring journey will give us an idea of how the ADA has benefited our country and the disabled community.

DARS will also be present to discuss what services they provide to the disabled community.

This event is open to the public.

For more information contact Marcela Abadi Rhoads at 214-403-8714 or marhoads@abadiaccess.com

12:00 at 4306 Capitol Avenue, Dallas, 75204

 Founded in 1931, the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, a George Dahl architect designed historic building, focuses on improving and enhancing the lives and opportunities of the visually impaired in North Texas.  Their guiding principle is the belief that with knowledge, training and motivation, people who are visually impaired can succeed and thrive in any workplace, live productive and meaningful lives, and be important contributors to their communities.


By providing jobs, job training and offering community services, the Lighthouse strives to empower and encourage its clients toward living independently. 
The Lighthouse's Industrial and Sewing Centers, where more than 150 people are employed, and the Technology Lab, which offers adaptive business skills training to provide enhanced upward mobility opportunities for employment in a variety of office environments,  will be in full operation for this 30-minute guided tour.  Find out how the Lighthouse is making a real difference in our community and how you can help.   This tour is open to the general public, and reservations are not required, but a response to ensure your space on the tour would be appreciated.
For additional information, call Jo Baker at 214-821-2375, ext. 116.

Texas Discovery Gardens: A Case Study
 6:00 p.m. At the Texas Discovery Gardens in Fair Park

Texas Discovery Gardens, a butterfly exhibit at Fair Park, was renovated by Oglesby Greene Architects.  The original building is historic from the 1936 Centennial Exposition, as the House of Horticulture.  What is now the Butterfly House was originally a conservatory.  An addition was completed in 1971.  The historic building was not originally accessible and with the remodel it was updated to meet the State and Federal requirements in a very sensitive and effective way.   The tour will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be led by the project architect and accessibility inspector. 

This tour will be $10 for AIA and TRASA member and $20 for non-members and it is worth one hour of barrier free HSW CEU.  RSVP to the AIA since there is a limited number of spots.

Please RSVP to the AIA at 214.742.3242 or info@aiadallas.org

City of Plano Council Meeting and Proclamation Announcement
7:00 p.m. at the City of Plano Council Chamber

City of Plano joins communities across the country in recognizing the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act into legislation. The City is proclaiming July 26 as an annual ADA Celebration Day in the City of Plano. The Honorable Mayor Phil Dyer will present the proclamation during the regular city council meeting on Monday, July 26.  Kent Waldrep will be a distinguished guest partaking in the proclamation event.
Plano Proclamation Presentation
Monday, July 26, 7 p.m.
Plano Municipal Center,
1520 K Avenue
Plano, Texas 75023

Sponsorship opportunities still available.

Our hope is to explore the effect of the act on the built environment as well as those whose lives have been enhanced by improved access to jobs, education, recreation, services and goods previously denied them by physical barriers or discrimination. 

This is a day for awareness and for celebration of the elimination of architectural and cultural barriers in our society

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Isn’t the variance application just a piece of paper?

Architectural projects will never be perfect. And sometimes we might have to see how we can be creative in solving issues and still maintain the rules in order to make things work. My good friend Wally Tirado, RAS is a genius when it comes to asking the agency in Texas (TDLR) permission to have certain conditions that may not be able to adhere with the rules, to be able to remain as they are until such time when it can be fixed.  These are called Variance in the State of Texas.  I invited him to be a guest blogger on Abadi Accessibility News and give us his trade secrets on how to get a variance passed in Texas. Hope you enjoy

Isn’t the variance application just a piece of paper? I don’t know let’s find out. Probably one of most common question, I get asked as a Registered Accessibility Specialist is whether this or that qualifies for a variance. Any other question asked of me I will almost always invariably answer “it depends”. However, when it comes to variances, my answer almost always is, “I don’t think so.”

Before you stop reading here and move on, please understand most variances fail because the applicant fails to understand the technical and procedural requirements of how you can qualify for a variance, not because it doesn’t qualify. I have offered seminars on variances so I’ll try to be brief and stick to the basics. Let me make some thing clear first however. As a RAS, as stated in our specific rules of conduct (yes we have them), I am not to, “state or imply the department will approve a variance.” I won’t pretend to either, that’s TDLR’s job.

Let’s start with technical aspects of variances with a couple of important definitions structurally impractical and technically infeasible. Structurally impractical defines whereas in new construction some feature would prevent compliance. Technically infeasible would apply to where some existing condition would prevent compliance. Construction defects, in all likelihood will not qualify for a variance. The condition was created, so would the department waive them?

When you are applying for variance you need to prove that either impracticality or infeasibility exists. Cost is generally not a factor unless it is disproportionate to overall cost of the project. The Department of Justice has defined “disproportionate” as costing more than 20% of overall cost of the project.

Now, on to the procedural aspects of filing a variance. The variance application is not just a cover letter for your resume, it IS your resume. Most variances will fail simply because the form isn’t filled out correctly. Furthermore, don’t assume that the person reviewing the application understands your project or willing to take the time to. Provide as much documentation as it takes to prove your case. Don’t limit yourself to that ¾” wide box to state your intentions. Provide plans, specifications, cut sheets even photographs; anything to help describe the condition.

If you don’t understand the variance process, get help. Ask a RAS or call TDLR, they’ll tell you over the phone where your condition would be a good candidate. Also remember TDLR is a government agency as such, they run on pushing paper, so make sure yours is right. In the beginning of this post I asked, “Isn’t the variance application just a piece of paper?” Well isn’t money a piece of paper too?

Wally Tirado is a RAS with EAB Services, LLC. He can be reached at wally@eabservices.com

Friday, June 4, 2010

Accessibility signage

You would think that something as simple as building signage would be SIMPLE....not so much when it comes to accessibility. Signage requirements address people that are visually impaired (either completely blind, or low vision).

They also provide information to the mobility impaired patrons who need to know where their accommodations are found. Signs are not required to be provided, but if they are provided then they have to meet certain requirements and specs. The requirements are found in section 4.30 of the ADAAG

Building Signage

The ADA and TAS tells us that "signs which designate permanent rooms and spaces" need to comply. The definition of "permanent" is never given, so it is up to the building owner and designer to determine what is permanent.

Common sense tells us that if the room has permanent fixtures (i.e. plumbing) that will probably not ever be moved from that room, then the room will be permanently used for its original intended function.

But an office where Mr. John Doe works could be a different function when Mr. John Doe retires and therefore it is not permanent.

If the signage is deemed to be permanent then it must meet the following requirements:

1) Raised Characters and Braille:
  • Letters and numerals shall be raised 1/32 in, upper case, SANS SERIF or SIMPLE SERIF type
  • Shall be accompanied with Grade 2 Braille. (California Braille is significantly different from ADA Braille. California "Contracted Grade 2 Braille" shall be used whenever Braille symbols are specifically required. (See C.B.C. Section 1117B.5.6)

Raised characters shall be at least 5/8 in (16 mm) high, but no higher than 2 in (50 mm).
  • Pictograms (if provided) shall be accompanied by the equivalent verbal description placed directly below the pictogram. Pictograms are figures that depict what the words are stating.
  • The border dimension of the pictogram shall be 6 in (152 mm) minimum in height. (This doesn't mean that the pictogram has to be 6" high, but everything must fit on a minimum 6" border)
2) Finish and Contrast. The characters and background of signs shall be eggshell, matte, or other non-glare finish.
  • Characters and symbols shall contrast with their background --either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.

3) Mounting Location and Height. The signage shall be located adjacent to the latch side of the door. Blind people are trained to find the door handle and then look to the wall next to it for signage.

Where there is no wall space to the latch side of the door, including at double leaf doors, signs shall be placed on the nearest adjacent wall.

Mounting height shall be 60 in (1525 mm) above the finish floor to the centerline of the sign. Mounting location for such signage shall be so that a person may approach within 3 in (76 mm) of signage without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a door

Directional and Informational Signs

There are other types of signage, such as signs that provide directions to or information about "functional" spaces of the building also have to comply with parts of the guidelines.

An example of a directional signage would be when not all entrances are accessible, then a directional sign with the accessibility symbol will be required to let the patrons know where to find the accessible entrance. The signage should be placed in a location that does not required a person to retrace the approach route from the inaccessible entrance.

Other places would be at non-accessible restrooms directing to the accessible restroom and non-accessible telephones directing to the accessible telephone (and these must have the accessibility symbol on them)
An example of information signage is at Assembly areas is to inform patrons of the availability of accessible seating and of assisted listening devices that are provided. These signs would be placed at the ticket counter.

These signs must have the proper character proportion, Letters and numbers on signs shall have a width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1 and a stroke-width-to-height ratio between 1:5 and 1:10 using an upper-case "X" for measurement. Lower case letters are permitted.Overhead signs shall have a minimum 3" height for its characters

They do not have the same requirements as the building signage, but they should have the proper proportion and finish and contrast.
Building directories, menus, and all other signs which are temporary are not required to comply because they are not typically permanent.

Inspector's Corner

I see this very often during inspections. The signage is placed on the door. Sometimes it is because it appears to not be any room at the wall adjacent the strike. Other times they just place it there because they don't want to mount it to the wall.

The reason why it is not acceptable is that a person who is visually impaired is taught to find the door handle and then look for a sign at the wall adjacent. If the sign is not there, they will not look for it at the door.

Also, placing the sign at the door pauses a potential hazard. A person would be reading the sign and the door could swing open.