Posted by Patrick Maness
Last year, millions of Americans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This ground-breaking piece of legislation, which set out to “establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of handicap,” has required employers to accommodate employees with disabilities and for businesses to make reasonable accommodations for patrons with disabilities.
Now, this is a thick piece of legislation and it’s not exactly financially feasible for restaurant owners to hire a lawyer to walk them through it. Still, it’s important to know the key requirements of this bill and how to satisfy them.
The primary challenge restaurants will face is in removing the barriers that prevent disabled patrons from getting around and into your dining area and more.
To accommodate wheelchairs, aisles and walkways should be 36-inches wide. Additionally, on the floor of the restaurant there must be a five-foot wide circle or t-shaped area that allows for a wheelchair to turn around.
Doors should be 36 inches high and have loop or level-style handles that are 48 inches off the ground.
An ADA restroom
An ADA restroom should have at least one handicap stall that is wide enough for a wheel chair to enter and turn around inside. Similar accommodations should be available to access the sink, which needs to allow room for a wheel chair to slide underneath them so patrons can reach the soap dispenser and faucet.
For blind patrons, restroom signs should be written in braille.
Proper ADA counter height
In order to accommodate wheelchairs, tables and counters should be between 28 and 34 inches high. In addition, 5 percent of all tables (or at least one, if there are fewer than 20 tables) need to be wheelchair accessible. To provide adequate leg space, the area under the table needs to be 30 inches wide, 27 inches high and 19 inches deep.
In order for customers in wheelchairs to comfortably pay, checkout counters should not be higher than 36 inches. If it’s not possible to do this, restaurants can offer the customer a simple way to pay — say, a clipboard or tablet device.
Much of these rules may appear slightly intimidating, and it’s not uncommon for restaurant owners to be anxious about the costs that come with updating their restaurant to be ADA compliant.
But the ADA has a specific provision that states these accommodations do not need to be made if they will result in undue financial hardship.
If you need advice on how to best implement an ADA-compliant design, reach out to a TriMark consultant today. They have the experience to help you understand the benefits and best practices to ensure your patrons have a great dining experience.
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