Problems with the 2010 ADA Standards (and 2012 TAS)

July 18, 2012

There are two things that really bug me about the new Standards.

Firstly, this issue with 50% storage in kitchens. See my earlier post. This rule was not written by someone familiar with designing kitchens. Just take a look at the recent Access-Board webinar on kitchens where in one slide they show upper cabinets dimensioned 48″ to the bottom shelf, but somehow still fit a microwave under that upper cabinet. The elevation is unrealistic and so is the rule.

Secondly, under the old Standards we had an exception for maneuvering clearance at doors that were automatic or power-assisted (1991 ADA Standards 4.13.6). The new Standards allow the maneuvering clearance exception only at doors that are automatic. Here in Texas, and probably elsewhere, the interpretation is that an automatic door does not require any interaction so push-button operators are out. The problem with this is that often push-button operators were installed at existing restroom doors where tight spaces didn’t allow the provision of complying maneuvering clearance. Now, I guess that door will need to be automatic and will just swing open anytime someone passes by. I don’t think that is very practical.

Away from any State or local authority you can always argue compliance to the “maximum extent feasible” and stick with the push-button, but in Texas the words “maximum extent feasible” equate to “rejected variance application”.


The problem with Kitchens in the 2010 ADA Standards

April 19, 2012

This information is out of date. Refer to RAS Bulletin 2012-01 for more info.

First let’s look at what the Standards say to do:

212.2 Kitchens and Kitchenettes. Kitchens and kitchenettes shall comply with 804.

804.5 Storage. At least 50 percent of shelf space in storage facilities shall comply with 811.

811.3 Height. Storage elements shall comply with at least one of the reach ranges specified in 308.

308.3.1 Unobstructed. Where a clear floor or ground space allows a parallel approach to an element and the side reach is unobstructed, the high side reach shall be 48 inches (1220 mm) maximum and the low side reach shall be 15 inches (380 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground.

Ok, simple enough. 50% of the shelves shall be with 15″ and 48″. And I have been told by the Access-Board that we should measure linear feet of shelves. No problem.

Let’s take a look at a typical breakroom kitchenette with counter-top, sink, dishwasher and storage.

Well, that doesn’t seem to work. I don’t have enough shelf space to make up for the upper cabinets and I’m only counting 2 shelves in the upper cabinets. Let’s try to add a pantry to make this work.


Dangit! 4-1/2′ short. Guess I’ll have to lose even more counter space to get this done.


Now this is just ridiculous. I guess the only way to comply is to have very little vertical clearance at each shelf or eliminate the upper cabinets. Or we could just pretend there is only one shelf in the upper cabinets.

Any ideas?


Srsly? Jerk.

May 24, 2011

Houston, TX


Conversation with an ADA Expert

January 6, 2011

What kind of person makes these videos? ADA humor, really?

YouTube Video: The ADA Expert

By the way, this is entirely a work of fiction.  Any similarity to persons living or dead (including Zombie Frank Lloyd Wright) is merely coincidental.


John Stossel continues to frivolously attack the ADA

September 9, 2010

John Stossel continues his ignorant and poorly researched attack on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Stossel: Americans with Disabilities Act is “doing the disabled more harm than good”

In this Fox News segment, they have John Stossel on to rant without any countering viewpoint.

In a Stossel clip within the clip, he says that the ADAAG is too complicated to understand by referencing section 4.30.2 (character proportion on signs) and  4.13.11 (door opening force).  Seriously?  Yes, maybe this is confusing for Stossel, but that’s why there are architects, interior designers, graphic designers and hardware specialists to do the thinking for you.

Also in the clip, they mention a lifeguard “tower” in Clearwater, FL that was required to have an elevator.  Here’s another poorly researched article about it from the St. Petersburg Times: Link

Once again, Stossel and his hosts get very confused about the requirements of the ADA.  In this case Title I which covers employment.  If they had done a simple Google search, they would have learned that the ADA, Title I does not require an employer to hire an employee with a disability if that person is not capable of performing the basic tasks of the job.

Oh, and here is that Lifeguard “Tower”, looks more like an office building to me.  The reason they have to add a lift, is because they are adding a 3rd floor.

The Clearwater Beach lifeguard station is being renovated and the state is forcing city officials to make the upper floors handicapped-accessible — though the only people who use the space are lifeguards. A waiver request was turned down.


Special Crazy Person Post

May 21, 2010

Normally I make an effort to avoid any controversy or politics on this blog.  But recent comments from US Senate Candidate Rand Paul and supporting statements from professional mustachio John Stossel have forced my hand.

Rand Paul in an interview with Rachel Maddow declared his dislike for the Title II of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations.

John Stossel said on the May 20 edition of Fox News’ America Live,

And I would go further than he was willing to go, as he just issued the statement, and say it’s time now to repeal that part of the law… because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.”

Ok, so here is their logic as I see it: Businesses should be completely free to discriminate because that equals freedom (for the business owner).  If a business chooses to discriminate, the free market will punish them for their “boorish” behavior and they will lose to the non-discriminatory businesses.  Yeah, that worked really well prior to the Civil Rights Act.

But don’t let facts and history cloud the discussion.

Here are a few of the problems with permitting discrimination in public accommodations:

  • The market will choose to discriminate with the belief that it will benefit the business.  For instance, an apartment complex that wants to appeal to the hip and young may choose to refuse renting to the disabled, families with children or the elderly.  In this example, the apartment owners could be rewarded since young people would probably prefer to live in the complex that was full of young, active people like themselves.  Without the FHA a student with a disability would probably not be able to find private housing close to the campus.
  • Some public accommodations provide essential services.  Buying food is not optional.  In some communities, there may be only one grocery store.  What would happen if the owner of that grocery store didn’t like a particular ethnic group?  Some small communities cannot support more than one doctor.  Imagine if that Doctor thought that people with disabilities were too much risk, could the Doctor just tell them to move out of town?
  • In some cases, an entire community is developed by one private entity.  This entity may sell all of the houses and be the landlord for 100% of the commercial business.   In this situation, there would be no “free market” to prevent discrimination.

Discrimination is wrong.  Morally and ethically wrong.  If you want to do business in the US, then you must follow our rules.  It is because of our self organization as a government that we have the peace, protection and economy to run private business.

Rand and John are wrong on this issue.