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Elevators and ADA Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislates requirements for elevators building owners need to know when planning new construction or renovating existing structures. Every building must have at least one elevator that meets accessibility requirements. If you are unsure whether or not the elevator units in your building are compliant with the ADA’s regulations, review the following information in order to gain an understanding of compliance procedures.

ADA Compliance
Image Courtesy of Building.com

Two vital terms to know when talking about the ADA’s standards for elevators are “public accommodation” and “readily achievable”, which are defined as follows:

  • Public Accommodation: A private entity holding, leasing or operating public facilities such as public spaces for recreation, rental locations, hotels and facilities for lodging. This also includes stores, restaurants, shopping malls, hospitals, specific offices, and other types of public areas.
  • Readily Achievable: This term refers to modifications that can be easily accomplished with little to no inconvenience or cost. The factors defining the readily achievable state involve the type and cost of the adjustment as well as the financial means of the owner.

According to ADA requirements, if a public accommodation can make adjustments in a readily achievable manner, they are obligated to make such changes in order to make the area as accessible as possible.

In addition to understanding key terms involved in determining what entities are obligated to change and what conditions mandate adjustments, property owners may want to review the following list of ADA provisions specifically for elevators to be aware of requirements for their units.

  • All elevators should operate electronically. Specifically, all elevator doors must open and close automatically and have a reopening feature to stop and reopen the elevator door immediately if a passenger is entering the elevator without physical contact.
  • All call buttons in elevators are centered at 42 inches above floor level and must feature
    visual signals to display when each call is recorded and answered.
  • All elevators must have control features such as buttons, visual, tactile, and braille control designators.
  • The minimum amount of time elevator doors must stay fully open for entry is 2 seconds.
  • The floor area of elevators should be large enough to provide ample space for a wheelchair user to enter the unit, reach controls, and safely exit the elevator.
  • Hall signals must be both visible and audible, provided at each entrance to show which elevator is answering the call. Audible signs must signal once for ascending directions and twice for the descending directions or provide a verbal signal stating up or down.
  • Handrails at certain heights, standard of 30 inches.
  • Communication in elevator units for deaf and blind users.
  • Specific illumination levels for buttons
  • Emergency control buttons grouped in an accessible, centralized area of an elevator’s control panel
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