Skip to: Content


Posts Tagged ‘ADA’

What Happens if You Don’t Comply with ADA Building Guidelines?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ADA building guidelines are just that: guidelines. They aren’t laws, they aren’t building codes, and you fig6bcan’t get arrested if you don’t follow them to the letter. But that doesn’t mean violations of ADA guidelines come without consequences. Though you may not be prosecuted or have your business shut down, there are plenty of unwanted penalties you may have to deal with if you don’t keep ADA guidelines in mind as you build your location.

If you choose to ignore or violate ADA building guidelines, there are a few things that can happen to you and your business.

  •         Department of Justice Complaint – If a disabled customer or person visiting your location finds that your building does not accommodate those with disabilities, they may file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). If sufficient grounds are found for the complaint, the DoJ will open an investigation or recommend that you go through mediation to rectify the error.
  •         Lawsuit – A disabled person may choose to file a lawsuit against your business if they find your location or your services are unaccommodating to their needs. This would be considered discrimination, and you could end up owing thousands of dollars in damages – or more.
  •         Damage to reputation – Even if a disabled customer decides not to file a complaint or lawsuit, that doesn’t mean you’ve gotten away scot-free. Failing to cater to customers of all kinds – disabled or not – can cause immense damage to your reputation. Once word gets out that you discriminate against those who are disabled, your sales and revenues may drop as a result.

Do you want to avoid these unfortunate consequences? Then let us help you navigate ADA building guidelines, and ensure your building project is as compliant as possible. Contact Burnham Nationwide today to learn more or to discuss your project.


Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

ADA Bathroom Guidelines That Project Managers Need To Know

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines a number of guidelines and requirements for public-use buildings to ensure that all structures can appropriately accommodate personsHandicap_Accessible_Sign with physical or mental disabilities. ADA guidelines pertain to nearly every aspect of a building, including walkways and ramps, doors, signage, and bathrooms. If you are in the process of planning a building project, it’s important to make sure you are in compliance with all ADA bathroom guidelines before you begin your build to prevent costly delays and code violations. The following are some important highlights of ADA bathroom guidelines:

  •         Door swing – The door to the bathroom itself, as well as any stall, cannot swing into the path of clearance for any fixture, such as a mirror, toilet, or sink.
  •         Mirrors – The bottom of mirrors that are located above sinks or counter tops must be no higher than 40 inches from the floor. Mirrors that aren’t located above these fixtures must be at least 35 inches above the floor. The ADA recommends installing a full-length mirror for best use.
  •         Coat hooks and shelves – All coat hooks and shelves installed in individual stalls must be mounted between 40 and 48 inches from the floor.
  •         Stalls – Stalls should be at least 60 inches wide and 56 inches deep, and doors should be located on the side diagonal from the toilet. They should open outward. Grab bars must be installed on the side wall that is closet to the toilet and be at least 42 inches long.
  •         Toilets – Toilets must be between 17 and 19 inches from the side wall or partition, and toilet paper dispensers should be 7 to 9 inches in front of the toilet. Clearance around toilets must be 60 inches (measured perpendicularly) from the side wall and 56 inches from the back wall. The seat of the toilet must be between 17 and 19 inches from the floor.

To ensure that your building is in compliance with all ADA bathroom guidelines and the ADA guidelines that apply to other areas of your project, contact Burnham today. Our code consulting experts can make sure your project is compliant in every aspect.


Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

ADA Toilet Requirements to Ensure Safety

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

View of bathroom form shower stall

Company owners often give ADA toilet requirements low priority in their compliance efforts.  This is unfortunate because failure to comply with these regulations can expose businesses to both heavy fines and expensive lawsuits.  In this post, we’ll offer a high-level overview of what the ADA expects in terms of restroom accessibility.  We encourage you to contact an ADA compliance specialist with any questions or concerns.



The ADA mandates that mirrors should have a lower reflective edge no higher than 40” from the floor.  Companies are encouraged to have at least one full-length mirror in each restroom to ensure compliance with the spirit of the regulation.


Toilet Paper Holders

Holders should be mounted 36” or less from the rear wall of the enclosure and with their horizontal centerline at least 19” above the floor.  To ensure ADA compliance, we recommend that you not install folded-tissue dispensers.  We also recommend against using devices that limit the amount of toilet paper available to the user.


Tampon/Sanitary Napkin Dispensers

These should be easily operable with use of one hand.  Pull knobs should not require more than five lbs. of pressure to use.


Paper Towel Holders

To ensure access by persons in wheelchairs, these should be mounted between 15” and 48” above the floor.  In the case of combination paper towel/waste receptacle units, the paper towel dispenser should also be between 15” and 48” above the floor.  If the unit protrudes more than 4” from the wall, it should be placed inside a corner or alcove, or between protruding structural elements. 


Trash Cans/Waste Receptacles

The receptacle’s openings should be accessible from 15” to 48” from the floor, to allow easy use by persons in wheelchairs.  If the receptacle uses hinged panels, these should require no more than five lbs. of force to operate.  Units that project more than four inches from the wall should be placed in alcoves, corners, or in between other structural elements.  This is to protect visually impaired people from walking into them.  It also helps to guarantee that there is a minimum of 60” of turning space for wheelchairs.


Forced-Air Hand Dryers

According to ADA toilet requirements, these should require no more than five lbs. of force to operate.  They should also be operable with one hand.  They should be a contrasting color to the surrounding area, so that they’re easier for visually impaired people to perceive.  If there is only one dryer in a restroom, its start button should be between 38” and 40” above the floor.  If there are two or more dryers, then one should have a start button from 38” to 40” from the floor; the others should have start buttons located between 41” and 48” from the floor.  Multiple dryers should alternate between being accessible to left- and right-sided approaches by persons in wheelchairs.


Grab Bars

These should have between 1 ¼” and 1 ½” clearance from the wall they’re attached to.  The centerline should be placed between 33” and 36” from the floor.  The bars should be able to withstand at least 250 lbs. of force.  The bars should never rotate in their fittings.


Medicine Cabinets

The bottom edge of the reflective surface should be 40” or less from the floor.  They must have at least one shelf that is no more than 44” above the floor. 


Shower Stalls

We strongly recommend that only shower curtains be used as enclosures for stalls.  If other types of enclosures are used, these should fold back flat against the walls.  Enclosures should never interfere with shower controls.


As mentioned before, this is a high-level overview of ADA compliance requirements.  We encourage you to contact us, to find out how we can help to ensure your structure’s compliance with all aspects of the ADA.

Related Posts:

Q & A About California ADA Requirements

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Triangle street sign with question mark in the middle

California ADA requirements can be confusing.  This is because California supplements the ADA with its own set of rules, as defined in the 2010 version of its state building code.  While this topic is impossible to cover in depth in this forum, we’ve prepared answers to many of the frequently asked questions about the subject.


Q: My building was completed before the ADA went into effect in 1992.  There are parts of it that do not comply with current standards.  Should I modify it to meet the strictures of the ADA and the California Building Code (CBC)?

A: Possibly, but a definitive answer to your question is impossible without an on-site inspection by someone thoroughly versed in California ADA requirements.  The areas of your building that are non-compliant may be eligible for a waiver if correcting them would present an undue burden on you.  Again, however, your situation requires an in-person visit to resolve.


Q: I want to remodel my building, but I’m concerned about ensuring its compliance with the law.  What do the ADA and CBC says about making remodeled buildings accessible?

A: If the project will add $130,000.00 or more to the building’s value, then you must fully comply with regulations regarding the building’s entryway, the travel path to the remodeled area, and any restrooms within the remodeled area.

If the added value is under $130,000.00, then you will need to invest 20% of the value’s amount in accessibility upgrades.  For example, assume that the remodeling project will add $50,000.00 in value to your property.  In that case, you must spend $10,000.00, or 20% of the added value, upgrading the property.


Q: How should I spend the 20% of the added value?

A: The upgrades should be performed in the following order of priority:

  1. Making entrances accessible.
  2. Making the route to the remodeled area accessible.
  3. Making at least one restroom for each gender in the remodeled area accessible.
  4. Supplying accessible telephones.
  5. Supplying accessible drinking fountains.
  6. Supplying accessible storage, parking, and alarms (if applicable to the location).


Q: What are the consequences for failing to comply with the ADA and CBC?

A: Failure to comply with the rules of both acts will expose your firm to the risk of catastrophically expensive litigation.  It will also put you in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which assigns a minimum penalty of $4,000.00 for each violation of the ADA and/or CBC.  We should mention at this point that many lawyers in California make a habit of bringing litigation against non-compliant businesses.  One attorney in Sacramento has done so over 1,000 times, achieving settlements in multiple thousands of dollars.


Q: My company received a notice from a lawyer’s office stating that we are not in compliance.  In the letter, the attorney demands several thousands dollars from my firm as a result.  Should I take this demand seriously?

A: Yes, you should take it seriously.  However, that doesn’t mean you ought to simply pay the money.  Along with the letter, you should have received a notice advising your business that it isn’t required to pay anything, unless and until it’s found liable by a court of law.  We advise you to consult an attorney familiar with ADA/CBC regulations to evaluate your options.


Q: How can I protect my company from ADA/CBC lawsuits?

A: your single best course of action is to have your property inspected by ADA consultants, like the experts at Burnham Nationwide.  We’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you and check your location over thoroughly.  We’ll advise you on what, if anything, you need to do to avoid legal and financial penalties relating to ADA/CBC non-compliance.  We invite you to contact us today to find out more.

Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

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!

Related Posts:

A Look at the 2010 ADA Parking Requirements

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

handicap parking spot

ADA parking requirements are important for any business to be familiar with, whether it has a tiny lot or one with thousands of spaces.  The following is a partial summation of the regulations currently in force.  This is intended purely as a high-level overview; please direct specific questions to an attorney or ADA expert, such as those found here at Burnham Nationwide.



In 2010, the Department of Justice  (DOJ) released revised regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The new rules apply to commercial facilities, places of public access, and all levels of government.  The complete text of the guidelines appears in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.


Rules for Existing Locations

  1. Existing buildings and sites that are not undergoing major renovations are unbound by the new rules.  For example, the 2010 guidelines mandate a minimum of two van-accessible spots for parking lots with at least 250 spaces.  However, facilities that are currently in line with the 1991 directives need not be changed, until and unless they are significantly altered.  This is known as the ADA’s “safe harbor” provision.
  2. On the other hand, all new construction must meet the 2010 rules.


Revised Requirements for Accessible Spaces

The following chart shows current requirements for accessible spots:


Number of spaces in parking lot or facility

Required number of accessible parking spaces

1 – 25


26 – 50


51 – 75


76 – 100


101 – 150


151 – 200


201 – 300


301 – 400


401 – 500


501 – 1000

2% of total

1001 and over

20, along with 1 more for each 100



Also, one of every six accessible spots, or every fraction of six, must be van-accessible.  For instance, say a lot has 400 spaces.  Per the 2010 rules for ADA parking requirements, eight spaces must be accessible, and two of those eight must be van-accessible.


Rules for Adjoining Lots

In cases where a parking lot serves two or more facilities, accessible spaces should be dispersed, rather than concentrated in a single area.  For example, say a shopping center has 15 different businesses, with a total of 1000 spaces for all customers.  It will need to have 20 accessible spaces, and those should be spread across the lot (but still close to the merchants).


In cases where there is a single facility served by multiple lots, it’s permissible to group space requirements together.  For instance, imagine that a sports complex has a lot immediately next to it with 1000 spaces and another lot three blocks away that contains an additional 1500 spaces.  This creates a total of 2500 spaces, of which 45 must be accessible (with four of those being van-accessible).  However, since the act also requires that accessible spaces must be as close as possible to the facility, all 45 must be:

  1. In the 1000-space lot that adjoins the complex.
  2. As close to the facility’s entrances as possible.


Rules for Medical Facilities

Different rules apply to doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals than to other types of facilities.

For instance:

  1. 10% of the spaces surrounding hospital out-patient locations must be accessible.
  2. 20% of the spaces surrounding a rehabilitative facility must be accessible, provided the facility provides out-patient and/or mobility-related treatment services.


Parking Space Size Requirements

  1. Regular accessible spaces must be at least eight feet wide, while van-accessible ones must be at least 11 feet wide.  Access aisles for both types of spaces must be at least five feet wide.  This extra width is needed to give persons room to deploy mobility aids such as walkers, wheelchairs, etc.
  2. An exception to the 11 foot rule for vans applies if the adjacent access aisle is at least eight feet wide.
  3. Access aisles must be marked with hash signs to notify motorists not to park in them.
  4. Accessible parking spaces and access aisles must have smooth, stable surfaces that are level (or close to level) in each direction.
  5. Van-accessible spaces must have a minimum vertical height of 98 inches.  This allows for the height requirements of vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts.


Accessible Space Signage Requirements

  1. Signs indicating accessible spaces must include the international accessibility symbol.  In addition, signs marking van spaces must include the phrase “van-accessible.”
  2. The lower edge of each sign should be at least five feet above the ground, to allow visibility for both drivers and law enforcement officers.


Exceptions to Signage Requirements

  1. Parking areas with less than five spaces are not required to have signs marking accessible spaces.
  2. In such cases, anyone may park in the accessible space, unless this is forbidden by local laws.
  3. Residential buildings such as apartments are excused from signage requirements, provided that each resident has an assigned parking space.


Maintenance Requirements for Spaces and Signage

Accessible spaces and routes should be kept in good repair and free of snow, leaves, ice, and other impairments to access and visibility.


Exceptions to ADA parking requirements

Certain types of facilities are not required to have accessible spaces, unless those facilities are intended for public access.  Examples include bus and trucking depots, parking lots around law enforcement centers, and lots where impounded vehicles are kept.  For example, a lot that is used exclusively for a municipality’s public bus fleet is not required to have accessible spaces.


Got Questions about the ADA? We have Answers.

Our ADA consultants possess the specialized knowledge needed to ensure that your business is ADA-compliant.  We also offer code consulting, permit expediting, and other building-related services.  We invite you to contact us if we can be of assistance in any way on your next project.

Related Posts:

"Burnham is a first-rate operation. I rely on them to coordinate many of the permit-related tasks that I am too busy to do myself. I draw on their knowledge on changing municipal requirements, proactive problem solving and would definitely recommend them to others."
Rich Neubauer,
"I've had great success with Burnham for permit expediting, and recently learned they offer code consulting. They are great in meetings and provide excellent reports supported by detailed research and experience. I will use them whenever I have code issues on a project."
Jeff Kennedy,
Centaur Construction
"I like Burnham because their response time is terrific. They're professional with a systematic approach and solid corporate infrastructure - and their web-based system shows me exactly what is happening with my permits at all times."
Tom McCloskey,
The Related Companies, L.P.
"Working with Burnham makes the best use of my resources. It would be too costly for me to have staff who know as much as they do about the permit process."
Mike Moravek,
The John Buck Company
"Burnham is always a vital part of our Project Team. Their level of service and professionalism far surpasses their competition. The first call I make when a new project comes in is to Burnham."
Gregg Navins,
OMARA Organization, Inc
"We have tried other permit services in the past but only Burnham delivers the level of detail, follow through and accountability necessary to be successful in today's complex permit acquisition arena."
Dave Morgan,
The Body Shop
"Speed and efficiency are paramount, we aren't looking for just another layer of project management. Burnham gets the process due to their strong knowledge of jurisdictional requirements, and excellent working relationships with municipal staffs."
Glenn D. Middleton,
Design Forum
"We have come to rely heavily on Burnham's expertise... they have developed a professional consulting practice that we are proud to be associated with."
Michael T Clune,
Clune Construction Company