- Aesthetic Challenges
- Aesthetic Opportunities
- Designing Buildings to Resist Explosive Threats
- Evaluating and Selecting Green Products
- Facility Performance Evaluation (FPE)
- Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)
- Retrofitting Existing Buildings to Resist Explosive Threats
- Security and Safety in Laboratories
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Assessment Tools for Accessibility
Last updated: 08-13-2012
This Resource Page describes tools that help make it easier for designers, developers, and contractors to assess, survey, or audit facilities for accessibility for people with disabilities. While several of the tools are intended for new construction or alteration projects, they can also be used to survey existing buildings to identify those features or elements in need of modifications. Keep in mind that once a building is constructed and compliance is called into question, a physical survey of the building and site will be required to identify violations to applicable federal laws, including the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHA).
The ADA Checklist for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal helps concerned professionals identify accessibility problems and solutions in existing facilities in order to meet their obligations under the ADA. The goal of the survey process is to plan how to make an existing facility more usable for people with disabilities.
The checklist is based on the four priorities recommended by the Title III regulations for planning readily achievable barrier removal projects:
- Priority 1: Accessible approach and entrance
- Priority 2: Access to goods and services
- Priority 3: Access to public toilet rooms
- Priority 4: Access to other items such as water fountains and public telephones
Note that not all sections of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) are covered—because full compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards is required only for new construction and alterations. However, whenever possible, the 2010 ADA Standards should be used in making readily achievable modifications. If complying with the 2010 ADA Standards is not readily achievable, a modification that does not fully comply with the 2010 ADA Standards may be undertaken as long as it poses no health or safety risk.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places
The ADA Checklist for Polling Places is "designed to help voting officials determine whether a polling place has basic accessible features needed by most voters with disabilities. It may be used when evaluating the accessibility of potential new polling places and when identifying physical barriers in existing polling places before temporary or permanent modifications are made to improve accessibility for elections.
Individuals completing the checklist do not necessarily need to be experienced in evaluating buildings and facilities for accessibility. The checklist is designed to prompt the user to check key features by asking questions about sizes, sloped surfaces, and availability of accessible features, and in some areas suggests alternatives if a physical barrier is identified."
B. Survey Instruments
Digital Level (Digital Inclinometer)
Digital level (or digital inclinometer).
Courtesy of AccessStore.com
In the past, a builder's level and a tape measure were used to measure slopes. Today, the more efficient digital level, also known as a digital inclinometer, can be used to perform the same function easily. The digital level looks like a builder's level, except it has a digital readout that indicates percent slope, degrees, or pitch (inches of rise per foot of run). Measuring slope in percentage is all that is needed to determine whether a slope is compliant. The digital level can be used alone or with a builder's level. First, calibrate it according to manufacturer's instructions; then place it on a flat surface—it automatically displays the percent slope.
Door Pressure Gauge
Door pressure gauge.
Courtesy of AccessStore.com
The force required to open doors must be minimal so that they can be easily operated by those who might have limited upper body strength (such as the elderly), challenges with manual dexterity, or any other issue that might make opening heavy doors a challenge. In the past, the fish scale was the most common way to measure the force needed to open a door. Today, the door pressure gauge is a more efficient tool. To assess door pressure, simply open the door by pressing the tip of the gauge against the door. The readout on the gauge will indicate the force required to open the door. The door pressure gauge can determine if the force required to open a door is greater than that permitted.
Relevant Codes and Standards
Codes and Standards
- ASME A17.1-2000 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, including ASME A17.1a-2002 Addenda and ASME A17.1b-2003 Addenda
- ASME A18.1-2003 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts
- ASTM F 1951-99 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment
- International Building Code
- NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, 2002 Edition
Laws and Regulations
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
- Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA)
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 & Section 508
The major resource for guidance on accessible design is the U.S. Access Board (Access Board). The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. Key responsibilities of the Board include developing and maintaining accessibility guidelines for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and electronic and information technology; providing technical assistance and training for these guidelines and standards; and enforcing accessibility standards for federally funded facilities. For more resources, see Access Board's Links Page.
Building / Space Types
Accessible Branch, Aesthetics, Functional / Operational, Historic Preservation—Comply with Accessibility Requirements, Productive—Design for the Changing Workplace, Productive—Provide Comfortable Environments, Secure / Safe—Ensure Occupant Safety and Health, Sustainable—Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices
Products and Systems
Building Envelope Design Guide: Exterior Doors
Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers:
- 01 91 00 (01810) Commissioning
- 08 14 00 (08210) Wood Doors
- 14 20 00 (14200) Elevators
- 22 40 00 (15400) Plumbing Fixtures