In an industry that recognizes the importance of customer satisfaction and comfort, the passing of Americans with Disabilities Act was seen by owners and operators as an opportunity to enhance dining experiences for all customers.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law in 1990 and updated in 2010, improved commercial development standards and challenged owners to focus on designs that welcomed all clients.
“Restaurant owners aren’t trying to alienate clients or violate ADA standards,” says Brian Burchett, ADA expert and founding partner at Commercial Site Design, a Raleigh-base civil engineering firm specializing in multi-unit, rollout commercial developments. “Most of the time, they simply don’t know there is an issue.”
When developing new commercial developments, owners rely on architects, engineers and other professionals to be knowledgeable and guide projects; sometimes firms miss small features that are important to the design and required by law. The building might pass inspection but still not be ADA compliant.
While ADA requirements are very specific and apply to interior and exterior features, owners can be proactive and make sure their establishments have the following exterior items:
- Van access spot
- No steep sidewalks or parking spots
- Path of travel
- Gradual access point for customers with disabilities
- Handrails on ramp
- Curb ramp
- Handicap parking signs (including at least one that says “Van Accessible”)
Although this isn’t a complete list of ADA requirements, it does represent a few ADA design features that subtly enhance the experience for all customers.
Curb ramps – must be 36″ wide, not including the flared sides – makes it easier for parents with strollers and clients with wheeled devices to maneuver the sidewalk and enter the building.
Handrails – required on both sides with a ramp of greater than 6” – provide clients, including kids and elderly, with a stable access point, allowing them to confidently and safely enter the commercial development.
Accessible routes – paths must have visible markings if they cross traffic lanes, including parking lots – provide all customers a safe route to approach the commercial development, acting as a right of way for pedestrians.
While ADA is aimed at making commercial developments accessible for people with disabilities, it also makes the restaurant, retails store or any other commercial development a better brand and business.
If you have ADA questions or want your commercial development to be evaluated for ADA compliance, please email Commercial Site Design at firstname.lastname@example.org.