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Posts Tagged ‘ada building requirements’

10 Major ADA Building Guidelines To Know – Part 2

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Last week we went over five of the most important ADA building guidelines you need to adhere to when designing, constructing, or renovating a structure in order to prevent costly lawsuits and ensure that your patrons with disabilities receive the same level of service and care as the rest of your customers or clients. Below are the next five important ADA building guidelines that should be integrated into your projects:

  1.     Signage – All signs (bathroom signs, room numbers, etc) need to have both lettersbathroom-signs and visual symbols to help those with disabilities. There must also be Braille translations on signs, and all characters must be uppercase.
  2.      Lighting – While there are no guidelines for how much light must be used in a space, there are standards for the placement of mounted wall lights such sconces, lanterns, and other similar items. These must protrude no more than four inches into a walkway, hallway, or aisle so as not to impede persons with disabilities.
  3.      Doors and hallways – The main focus of ADA building guidelines concerning doors and hallways is clearance, meaning how much space a person in a walker or wheelchair has to move, turn, and get around. A hallway or passageway must be at least 3 feet wide, and when turns are required, the width must be 48 inches. There must also be accessible doorways that provide a clearance width of at least 32 inches, while swinging doors must open at least 36 inches.475792900_6664bb4e65
  4.      Elevators – All elevators must have call buttons and keypads within clear reach of those in wheelchairs, and all buttons must be no small than three-quarters of an inch wide. Elevators must also offer both visual and audio signals for when they open, close, and arrive at floors.
  5.      Floors – All flooring materials must be stable, firm, and slip-resistant. Carpet must be firmly cushioned and securely attached to the floor, and it must be a level loop, texture loop, level cut pile, or level cut/uncut pile style.

If you want to make sure your project is in complete compliance with these and other ADA building guidelines, contact Burnham Nationwide today. Our code experts can help.

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How New ADA Regulations Affect Public Pools and Spas

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

new ADA regulations

New ADA regulations for 2013 are significantly impacting millions of motels, hotels, and resorts across the country. These locations must now provide the following access enhancements to their public pools and spas, providing that the alterations are, in the words of the ADA, “readily achievable.”

  1. Pools and spas with less than 300 linear feet of area must have at least one means of access that is accessible to people with physical challenges. The means of access can be either a sloped surface or a pool lift. Pools with more than 300 linear feet of area must have two means of access. One of these means of access can be a lift, a sloped entry, a transfer wall, a transfer system, or stairs.
  2. Pool lifts must be firmly attached to the apron or pool deck. They must also be ready for guests to use at all times the pool is open. The rule regarding fixed lifts will not be enforced, however, if the location purchased a compliant portable lift before March 15, 2012 and if the portable lift is kept in place for use during all hours the pool is open.
  3. If a lodging facility has already purchased a compliant lift, and if that lift is on back order, then the facility can keep its pool open in the interim.
  4. Lodging facility owners will be liable for ensuring that their staff members are properly trained in maintaining and operating pool lifts.
  5. In cases where obtaining a pool lift is not “readily achievable,” the property owner must devise and submit a plan to acquire such a lift in the future.


Sound confusing? We understand. Here at Burnham Nationwide, we provide advice and train facility owners on how to comply with all aspects of the new ADA regulations. Contact us today with any questions or concerns you might have.

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Consequences of Ignoring ADA Signage Requirements

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Door Warning SignsBusiness owners are faced with countless problems every day. With all of the headaches that come with running a company, it may seem that relatively minor issues like ADA signage requirements can be safely brushed aside. However, what seems like a little matter can cause companies a lot of trouble when ignored. Here’s a look at some of the fines and penalties that can be imposed for violating parts of the ADA.


  1. Injunctions – If a business fails to display all required signage, then the government may seek an injunction forcing it to do so. This can cause problems for company owners – ranging from unforeseen expenses to damaged reputations and loss of revenue.
  2. Damages, both actual and punitive – If someone can prove to a court that he or she suffered damages due to improper or missing signage, then the business where the incident occurred might be required to pay actual damages, i.e. monetary compensation for any losses the person suffered. In addition, if the court believes that the business flagrantly violated the law, then it may levy punitive damages as well.
  3. Civil penalties – The ADA sets fine levels of up to $50,000.00 for the first violation and as much as $100,000.00 for subsequent violations.
  4. Attorney fees – These can take two forms. First, a business may be forced to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees if he or she prevails in court. Second, the business will have to pay attorney fees if it hires a lawyer to defend it in court. These charges alone can total tens of thousands of dollars or even more.


Taking chances with ADA compliance isn’t worth the numerous risks involved. The experts at Burnham Nationwide have the knowledge and experience to ensure that our clients meet all ADA signage requirements. Give us a call today to find out more.

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Current ADA Ramp Requirements

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

handicap ramp

ADA ramp requirements were changed in 2010 as part of the updated accessibility guidelines released that year.  The following is a general summary of their contents.  For specific questions, we recommend contacting an attorney or ADA specialist.


Definition of a Ramp

For ADA purposes, a ramp is defined as an inclined, accessible route with a slope equal to or greater than 1:20.


Slope Requirements

To comply with the ADA, ramps should have a slope between 1:12 and 1:20.  This matches the physical abilities of most people, whether they be ambulatory or in wheelchairs.  The maximum allowable rise for a ramp of any length is 30 inches.  In addition, ramps must have a minimum width of 36 inches.


Landing Requirements

Landings at both the ramp’s bottom and top must be level.  They must also meet the following requirements:

  1. They must be at least as wide as the ramp that leads to them.
  2. The landing must have a minimum length of 60 inches.
  3. If the ramp changes direction, then the landing must have a minimum size of 60×60 inches.


Handrail Requirements

  1. Handrails should be available on both sides of the ramp.
  2. Continuous handrails are required for dogleg (L-shaped) or switchback ramps.
  3. Non-continuous handrails must extend at least 12 inches beyond the length of the ramp, both at its beginning and end points.
  4. The space between the wall and the handrail must be exactly 1.5 inches.
  5. The top of the rail’s gripping surface must be between 34 and 38 inches above the ramp’s surface.
  6. Handrails must be solidly fixed; i.e. they cannot rotate within their supports.
  7. Where handrails terminate, they must either be rounded or else extend into a wall, post, or floor.


We can answer your ADA Questions

We specialize in helping firms of all sizes comply with ADA ramp requirements and much more.  Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

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What are ADA Signage Requirements for Public Buildings?

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Handicapped Symbol Meeting ADA signage requirements for public buildings is important for maintaining public safety, avoiding fines, and safeguarding oneself against lawsuits. In this article, we’ll look at the major requirement for ADA-compliant signage.


Signage Location

  1. Permanent signs should be located at doorways, so that visually challenged persons can have a location cue. Normally, they should be located on the strike plate or on the nearest adjoining wall.
  2. In the case of double doors, if only one doors opens, the sign should be on the inactive door. If both open, the sign should be mounted on the right side of the right-hand door. If there is no room for the sign there, then it can be mounted on the closest adjacent wall.
  3. If a door swings outward, then the sign should be placed outside the door’s arc.
  4. Door signs can be mounted at a height that allows the raised characters’ baselines to be between 48” and 60” from the floor.


Sign Symbols and Typography

  1. Visual characters may not be oblique, italic, script, or ornate.
  2. Both sign symbols and backgrounds must have non-glare finishes. Raised characters should contrast sharply with their backgrounds. This is to assist persons with low vision. The characters may either be dark on light or light on dark.
  3. Pictograms should be within a 6” vertical void. No Braille dots or characters of any kind may be placed within this field.
  4. Symbols should conform to those used internationally, without deviations such as “zooming” wheelchairs.


Tactile Signs

  1. Fonts for tactile signs must be all upper case. They should be raised a minimum of 1/32”.
  2. Spacing between characters must be at least 1/8”, with a maximum of 4 times the characters’ width of stroke.


Further Information

This article presents only some of the ADA signage requirements. Full details can be found here. Additionally, the specialists at Burnham Nationwide can help you ensure you are meeting all regulations. Contact us today!

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Commonly Overlooked ADA Bathroom Requirements

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Woman and Man Bathroom SymbolsADA bathroom requirements often receive less attention than other aspects of the ADA. This is unfortunate, because over 100,000 accidents occur every year in public restrooms. In a large percentage of these accidents, the victims are physically challenged persons. Most of these incidents can be prevented by compliance with ADA standards. The following is a high-level survey of those standards, to give readers a general idea of their requirements. A more comprehensive treatment of the subject can be found at


Shower Seats

Shower stalls must have L-shaped folding shower seats. They should be mounted across from the shower controls and have a seat 17” to 19” above the stall floor. Additionally, shower seats should be able to hold a minimum of 250 lbs.



A public restroom’s mirror should be mounted so that its bottom edge is not more than 40” above the floor. The ADA recommends that public restrooms be equipped with at least one floor-length mirror per facility, but this is not part of ADA bathroom requirements.


Toilet Paper Holders

Toilet tissue rolls should be mounted so that their forward edge is, at most, 36” from the back wall, with a horizontal centerline at a minimum of 19” from the floor.


Tampon/Sanitary Napkin Dispensers

Knobs and buttons must be operable with one hand, with no need to pinch, twist the wrist, or grasp the unit tightly. Operating pull knobs must not require more than 5 lbs. of force.


Soap Dispensers

Dispenser buttons and pistons must be operable with one hand, and not require pinching, twisting of the wrist, or grasping the unit tightly. Soap valves must not require more than 5 lbs. of force to activate. Units mounted on walls above countertops or lavatories should have push buttons that are no more than 44” above the floor.


Towel Dispensers

The access point for paper towels should be between 15” to 48” above the floor. This allows persons in wheelchairs to access them more easily.


Trash Cans/Waste Receptacles

Receptacle openings should be located between 15” and 48” from the floor, to allow access by persons in wheelchairs. If a receptacle has a hinged panel, opening it should not require more than 5 lbs. of force. Units that project more than 4” from the wall should be restricted to areas such as corners and alcoves, so as not to restrict access aisles or pose hazards to seeing impaired persons.


Shower Curtains

Shower curtain enclosures are easier for persons in wheelchairs to use than other types of shower enclosures, such as sliding or hinged doors. Their use is therefore encouraged.


Grab Bars

All grab bars should be between 1.25” and 1.5” in diameter, with a 1.5” clearance from the wall. Grab bars must be stationary in their fittings, with no looseness or tendency to revolve. The distance from the center of the bar to the floor should be between 33” and 36”. At a minimum, grab bars should be able to support 250 lbs. of force.


Medicine Cabinets

The bottom edge of the reflective surface should be no more than 40” above the floor. Additionally, at least one of the interior shelves should be no higher than 44” above the floor.


ADA Signage Requirements

Braille characters should be translated into Grade 2 Braille characters. These markings should be directly underneath the letters or numbers they are translating. The universal symbol of accessibility should be rendered in white, with a background shaded in a contrasting color. Letters should have a minimum height of 3” with a non-glare finish. The text should be raised no less than 1/32” from the surrounding surface. Signage should be mounted on the door’s latch side, at a height not to exceed 60” from the floor.


Confused about the ADA?  Burnham Nationwide can help

Our experts are thoroughly versed in all aspects of ADA bathroom requirements and general ADA compliance. Contact us today for more information.

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Understanding ADA Compliance Requirements

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

ADA Compliance RequirementsThere has been a great deal of confusion over ADA compliance requirements since the Americans With Disabilities Act was first passed in 1990. Having a basic understanding of its requirements is a good starting point for dealing with many misperceptions surrounding its intent and effect on American businesses.


Purpose of the ADA

The act is meant to enhance the lives of those with disabilities, by removing barriers that hinder or prevent them from engaging in everyday activities such as shopping, dining, or attending movies or other public performances. Statutes that addressed these problems were in existence prior to its passages, but they were created and administered in a haphazard fashion. The ADA strives to create a set of uniform standards that facility owners and managers can understand and comply with.


Areas Covered by the ADA

  1. Currently existing facilities are required to remove existing barriers to access that may affect users of such devices as wheelchairs, electric scooters, walkers, crutches, or canes. These modifications are limited to what is “readily achievable,” which is a caveat in the act intended to avoid imposing onerous burdens on businesses.
  2. Not only does the ADA mandate the removal of such barriers, it also encourages businesses to install mobility aids such as ramps, over sized shopping aisles, and tables large enough for persons in wheelchairs to access. Other commonly expected modifications include door handles easily used by those with strength limitations and, for restaurants, seating that doesn’t hinder a handicapped person’s ability to eat in the establishment.
  3. Parking lot design is emphasized heavily in the ADA compliance requirements.

1)    At least one handicapped spot for every 25 spaces.

2)    Such spots should be close to the facility and on level ground.

3)    At least one of the spots must be set aside for vans equipped for disabled persons.


The ADA in the Real World

While the intentions of the ADA are admirable, many of the ways it has been used (or abused) have caused significant problems for unwary business owners, who have been the targets of aggressive attorneys or overly zealous government agents. The assistance of a qualified ADA consulting firm such as Burnham Nationwide can be invaluable in avoiding such incidents. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you with any compliance concerns you might have.

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ADA Building Requirements: Handrails

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

In designing a structure to meet the highest ADA building requirements for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the overall result can truly be said to be the sum of its parts.


Strict adherence to the smallest of details needed to meet regulatory standards reflects the workmanship in complying with the highest rigors to design an ADA-adherent edifice. Take handrails, for example—literally, if you like, take a tape measure to these elements to begin to understand the strict nature of ADA adherence!


Generally speaking, ADA guidelines call for handrails to be installed between 34 inches and 38 inches from the surface—that is to say, the ground, ramp or sidewalk. Many regulators recommend splitting the difference in case of any confusion, suggesting installation at the 36-inch mark.


Ah, but then it gets trickier when allowing for handrail surroundings. ADA guidelines place peripheral posts—vertical or horizontal—at no greater a height than of 8 feet. It is recommended that posts be placed every six feet from center to center to ensure compliance.


Handrails or grab bars, along with any adjacent wall or surface, must be free of anything sharp or abrasive. ADA building requirements also call for 3/16” holes to be drilled onto handrails in mounting them to their brackets. Affixing handrails and grab bars to their respective brackets disallows rotation.


To the untrained eye, adherence to such minor details into overall construction can easily be missed. Even without such mandates, Burnham Nationwide has built its reputation on paying attention to details large and small in designing projects to the highest of specifications. Think of Burnham as you plan your next design project. For further insight, it might be helpful to contact a Burnham specialist to see what they have to offer and how they can help you understand the ADA building requirements pertinent to your job site.


Adherence to ADA standards is crucial, heightening the importance of having a designing partner of the highest caliber. Since its inception, Burnham has built its reputation on adhering to the highest workmanship standards.


Beyond merely following the law, ADA compliance also is critical to a company’s bottom line. Since ADA passage in 1980, a cottage industry of sorts has emerged centered on lawsuits filed for noncompliance. Much of this litigation revolves not around the ubiquitous ramps, but the less visible handrails that are central to ADA compliance. Retailers and restaurateurs have been especially hit with mounting litigation over inadequate handrails, as attorneys aggressively secure clients looking to file lawsuits in search of financial recovery. Sometimes, the pickings are easy. In one notable case in California, one plaintiff went down a stretch of highway to find noncompliance, filing 20- lawsuits in one 24-hour period as a result!


ADA noncompliance can result in thousands of dollars worth of fines. In terms of litigation, expenses could easily be exponentially greater. In another example, one plaintiff in Fort Pierce, Fla., was awarded $1 million in damages in 2010 after suing her apartment complex over a faulty handrail.


For the sake of your business, it is important to ally yourself with a reputable consultant. With more than 50,000 building permits under its belt since its 1989 founding, Burnham Nationwide has ample experience with ADA compliance. Our very name alludes to a commitment to quality projects, honoring famed Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham who imbued greatness to every endeavor—big or small. So think about Burnham Nationwide as you contemplate your next project, and don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

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ADA Building Requirements for Elevators

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

When constructing or renovating a building, it is very important to be aware of ADA requirements. These requirements are quite specific and ensure that physically disabled people are able to access all parts of the building. Keeping ADA building requirements in mind when planning the construction or remodeling will help you to get a permit faster and avoid having to redo a large portion of the work. Following is a quick overview of important ADA requirements regarding elevators.


Specific Requirements


Every building that is over three stories in height must have at least one elevator. Large buildings may have a service elevator; if this building is only for employees, then it does not necessarily have to meet ADA requirements regarding wheelchair space. However, all other elevators in the building must have a 54″ depth by 80″ width. In short, there should be enough space for a wheelchair-bound individual to enter, maneuver to reach the controls, and then exit the elevator.


The call buttons must be either raised or flush, and they have to be at least three quarters of an inch in diameter. Furthermore, the buttons both inside and outside of the elevator must be within the reach of a person who is in a wheelchair or power scooter. All public buildings are also required to have raised and Braille floor designations on both jambs.


The elevator must stay open automatically for at least three seconds and the two-way communication device in the elevator cannot be more than 48″ from the floor. There must also be both a visual and audible signal indicating that the elevator has reached a designated floor. This signal must also indicate which elevator is answering the call.


Staying abreast of all the ADA building requirements can be a challenge. However, there are companies that can help you review building plans and make sure that the elevators and other aspects of the building are ADA compliant. Burnham Nationwide specializes in providing services of this nature and can ensure that the plans for the construction or renovation of a building meet all ADA requirements.

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Don’t Forget About ADA Building Requirements for the Bathroom!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Meeting the ADA building requirements in a bathroom can be difficult for a building manager, business owner, or homeowner. It can be a rather overwhelming task to ascertain which requirements need to be met in which bathrooms and how to best meet those requirements. As part of the Burnham special experience, clients are guided toward the requirements that they need to follow, as well as given ideas about how to best meet those requirements.


The ADA requirements deal with everything from grab bars in toilet stalls and shower stalls to the correct placement of mirrors. However, none of the requirements are cut and dry. They all include numerous exceptions to the rules, which are necessary to know but can also be difficult to understand. For instance, one of the ADA building requirements mandates that the grab bar on the side wall of a toilet stall be a minimum of 42 inches in length, a maximum of 12 inches from the back wall, and extend a minimum of 54 inches from the rear wall. The guidelines concerning grab bars along the rear wall of the toilet stall are just as specific. However, there are exceptions for the length of the rear bar in cases where the wall space does not have room for the minimum length due to recessed nearby fixtures. The guidelines concerning grab bars in showers are just as specific, and there are an additional set of guidelines that govern seats and controls in showers and baths.


On the other hand, if your bathroom is only going to be used by a single occupant and is only accessed through a personal office area, it is not a requirement to follow all of these rules. However, the requirements do state that the walls in the showers must be made strong enough to accommodate the addition of grab bars in the future. Even mirrors must be hung a certain distance from the ground.


When creating a bathroom in a public facility, it is important to follow the ADA building requirements. However, without the right consultant to guide you, the process may be cumbersome and tricky. The staff at Burnham is available to answer all of your questions and help you with this process.

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