Enforcement of the ADA is on us
Posted on January 20, 2012 by Willie Kimbrough, Jr.
With the New Year come new resolutions, motivations, and responsibilities. If you are an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) then you might want to consider a new role this year. And what role is that you ask? Well we are all familiar with what it takes to advocate for our rights, we make the calls to our legislators, we attend rallies to show our support, and we write letters to Congress etc. But how many advocates actually consider the role of enforcing the ADA?
On March 15, 2012 the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design will go into effect. With that comes an excellent opportunity to take on the role of ADA Police, and for advocates everywhere to be more involved with the ENFORCEMENT OF THE ADA. For the enforcement of the ADA is on us.
You will need the right tools. Your first tool is a checklist called the ADA Checklist for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal which you can obtain from www.adachecklist.org. The purpose of the checklist is to determine whether or not a facility has barriers to access for people with a variety of disabilities.
Next you will need measuring tools which should consist of the following:
- Measuring tape (at least 25-feet long) – An essential tool for a successful survey because many of the accessibility requirements concern the width, height, or depth of various features.
- Two or four-foot digital level - The slope of a curb ramp or a walkway can make or break its accessibility. People who use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices cannot safely use a curb ramp, walkway, or ramp that is too steep. The most effective and efficient way to measure the slope of a walkway is to use a two or four-foot long digital level.
- Pressure gauge - Many people with disabilities have limitations on the amount of force they can exert to open a door or operate a device that requires pushing or pulling. In general, if the operation of a door, a faucet, or other device requires more than 5 pounds of force, it is not accessible to many people with disabilities. To ensure that doors and mechanical devices are not barriers to accessibility, you need to measure the force required to operate them using a pressure gauge.
- Digital camera - Important for picture taking of any violations and measurement that you have found.
During an accessibility survey, advocates assess the current conditions of the facility to identify barriers. While it is possible for a single advocate to survey facilities for accessibility, I find it easier to conduct surveys while working in teams of two or three. A team approach can be more efficient because it allows team members to assume different roles. For example, one advocate can take notes and complete the checklist while another advocate is obtaining measurements and taking photos.
If this sounds somewhat complicated to you, don’t worry. We have a group of advocates that do this kind of thing all the time. They are called the Community Advocates and they meet every week to strategize and discuss potential areas of interest that need to be addressed. If you are interested in becoming a Community Advocate and want to be a part of the team we could train you right here at Paraquad with the new Jim Tuscher Institute. Give me, Willie Kimbrough, Jr., a call at 314-289-4334. I would like to help get you started.