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ADA Accessible Entrances: Frequently Asked Questions and Signage Regulations

Q. What are access ramps?

A.

Also called a wheelchair ramp, Access Ramps are inclined surfaces used by those with a physical disability using wheelchairs or walkers to navigate between areas of different height. Access Ramps also allow strollers, carts, and other wheeled objects to access up and downstairs, through doorways and even raised landings. The slope of the ramp should be as shallow as possible but not more than 1:12.Handrails are recommended whenever the slope is more than 1:20 and the vertical rise is greater than 6 inches. To comply with building codes and ADA, access ramps are required in buildings for easier accessibility.

Q. What is an accessible entrance?

A.

Also called a wheelchair ramp, Access Ramps are inclined surfaces used by those with a physical disability using wheelchairs or walkers to navigate between areas of different height. Access Ramps also allow strollers, carts, and other wheeled objects to access up and downstairs, through doorways and even raised landings. The slope of the ramp should be as shallow as possible but not more than 1:12.Handrails are recommended whenever the slope is more than 1:20 and the vertical rise is greater than 6 inches. To comply with building codes and ADA, access ramps are required in buildings for easier accessibility.

Q. Are doors or entrances required to be accessible?

A.
At least one entrance in a facility should be accessible to a wheelchair user. Entrances are required to have 36 inch wide doors in order to be accessible. However, some older doors are less than 36 inches wide and may not provide enough width. If such old door openings cannot be enlarged, special "swing clear" hinges can be used that give approximately 1 1/2 inches of more width. A round door knob can be replaced with a lever handle or modified by adding a clamp-on lever. The colour of the entrance door should contrast with the surrounding so as to be easily identified by people with visibility issues.

Q. Which facilities are required to have wheelchair accessible entrances?

A.

The federal law, ADA applies to almost all businesses providing goods and services

to the public, regardless of size. Places of public accommodation and buildings constructed by state or local governments built after January 26, 1992 must be fully accessible. Some major buildings that need to have wheelchair accessible entrances are mentioned here.

  • - Governmental facilities
  • - Offices buildings
  • - Residential buildings
  • - Commercial buildings
  • - Health facilities
  • - Educational institutions
  • - Private museums
  • - Restaurants
  • - Recreational facilities
  • - Sports facilities,
  • - Religious buildings

Q. Who mandates the blue and white color scheme for accessible signs?

A.

There is no such rule for the accessible signs to be blue and white. However, ADA Accessible Signs should be in contrasting colors for the ease of reading for the visually impaired. ADA signs are required to have a non-glare finish and a “high-contrast” ratio. In general, a 70 percent brightness differential between backgrounds and text would work well for ADA signs. This means that a sign should have a light background and dark characters, or a dark background and light characters. Design experts believe that in darker areas of a building it is easier if the sign base is dark (like blue) with light content of the signage (like white) in that area to have additional light. 

Q. Do outdoor signs for accessible entrances need Braille?

A.

According to ADA standards, Braille is only required on signs that identify a permanent room, space or an indoor area. Therefore, restroom signs, meeting room signs, classrooms signs, etc need to have Grade II Braille. However, ADA signs that provide direction or information regarding accessible features are not required to contain Braille. Therefore, floor signs, stair signs, parking signs, etc do not need to have Braille to be ADA compliant.

Q. Are there specific state or federal requirements for accessibility entrances?

A.

According to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, all main public entrances in new buildings should be accessible to an ambulant disabled person.

At least one entrance in a facility should be accessible to a wheelchair. 

Every accessible entrance should be connected by accessible pathways to accessible indoor or outdoor parking areas, local public transit stops, and drop-off areas. 

In multi-storey buildings, the accessibility entrance must permit access to a conveniently located accessible elevator or lift.

Accessible entrances should be clearly identified using signs with International Symbol of Accessibility. When one entrance is not accessible and another entrance is accessible, a sign must provide direction to the accessible entrance. 

States also have separate building codes that govern the design of entrances and you must check with your local code inspector to confirm legal expectations for fully compliant accessibility entrances.

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