There’s a lot to consider as a commercial property manager or building owner. You’re responsible for overseeing the proper functioning of the entire facility and its assets. You might need to complete frequent repairs on plumbing, lighting, and HVAC systems. You may need to hire custodial services or landscapers to keep the inside and outside of your property looking aesthetically pleasing. And you’ll need to ensure that your roadways and walkways are accessible for people of all abilities to utilize your property. When it comes to your commercial property’s asphalt, here’s what you should know about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it impacts you.
What to Know About the Americans with Disabilities Act
Unpacking the Americans with Disabilities Act
So let’s start with the most obvious question: What is the ADA, and why is it important?
The Americans with Disabilities Act was originally signed into law in 1990 to safeguard disabled Americans’ rights to employment, patronage, and access. ADA disabilities can include both mental and physical medical conditions, and these conditions do not need to be severe or permanent to be considered disabilities. This broad law covers many different facets across many different types of industries and life activities. It addresses voting rights, fair housing, telecommunication, the use of service animals, public transportation, and much more.
This is the law that protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against and guarantees equal opportunity for them in many areas of life. The ADA exists to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. Thanks to the ongoing disability rights movement made up of millions of people, new bills have been passed and new regulations enforced on employers, healthcare workers, government officials, business owners, and property managers over the last few decades.
Title I of the Act covers employment—including prohibiting firing or refusing to hire someone based on a real or perceived disability, as well as providing reasonable accommodations to both job applicants and employees with disabilities. Title II addresses public entities and public transportation, ensuring requirements for access for disabled persons. Title III is all about public accommodations and commercial facilities—which is the part of the law we will mostly address here. Title IV covers telecommunications for speech- and hearing-impaired persons, and Title V discusses other miscellaneous provisions.
How Does the Americans with Disabilities Act Impact Property Owners?
Simply put, the ADA makes it unlawful for commercial property owners to discriminate against people with disabilities. And while at first, you might think of discrimination as being overt, it can actually come in a variety of forms—from the width of doors or hallways to the presence (or lack) of curb ramps to the placement of soap dispensers in bathrooms. This also includes rules and regulations prohibiting discrimination in who landlords decide to rent their properties to or who business owners decide to employ or serve as a customer.
One of the tricky parts for property managers and owners to wade through is who exactly is responsible for this discrimination—or lack thereof—when it comes to the property. The fact is that both the landlord or property owner, as well as the tenant or business owner, bear legal responsibility for ADA compliance. This also means they both can carry the liability risks for ADA noncompliance. Since contracts signed between the property owner and the property tenant are binding only between those two parties, they don’t protect against complaints filed by third parties.
So if you’re managing a commercial property like a retail center, restaurant, hotel, or office building, you will want to be very clear on the ADA compliance responsibilities for that property. The more people coming and going from your facility, the more your chances of ADA compliance complaints increase—if you don’t have the proper compliance regulations put into place. So, what makes a facility ADA compliant? Let’s discuss that in more detail below.
ADA Compliant Properties: What to Know
You can do research on an ADA checklist for existing facilities, but know that these lists will cover a variety of areas of your property, and they may not be able to be handled by any one service provider or any one quick fix. And each requirement will depend on the type of facility you’re operating. For example, hotels will need accessible rooms with wide doorways, grab bars in showers, ramps and elevators, and more.
Restaurants must have the appropriate width on their entrances, door handles that don’t involve squeezing and turning, and enough space for wheelchair accessibility between tables and in restrooms. While we can’t possibly cover every facet of the Americans with Disabilities Act and what it entails, we can advise you on some key things you should note about your paved areas—including parking lots, driveways, and walkways—to keep them ADA compliant.
ADA Compliance and Parking
One of the first things that may come to mind regarding ADA access in your parking lots is the presence of designated handicapped spaces. And indeed, this is one of the top priorities for any commercial property manager. People with disabilities must be provided with parking spaces that are close to your facility and reserved for them.
Want some quick facts about handicapped parking? For every 25 spots in the parking lot, there must be one spot for handicapped parkers that’s at least 96 inches wide. For every eight accessible spots, at least one must be eight feet wide to accommodate vans—that’s at least 132 inches wide. And all of these parking spots must include no more than a 2% slope so that the surface is level enough for wheelchairs to move easily and comfortably.
Access aisles are those designated areas that allow people with wheelchairs and other mobility devices to maneuver through the parking lot. They must be clearly marked and directly adjacent to your handicapped parking spots. Signage must be posted on all handicapped spots and mounted at least 60 inches above the ground. And restriping is necessary as parking space lines begin to fade. All of these regulations vary when it comes to healthcare facilities, hospitals, and outpatient physical therapy facilities, so do your research on what your specific property will need in terms of accessible and compliant parking. More info: Four Benefits of Restriping Your Lot, Cassidy Paving Blog, Aug. 18, 2020
ADA Compliance and Ramps
Another common element that comes to mind with ADA compliance is the presence of ramps on the property. The ADA requires curb ramps and ramps to be installed along any accessible route in a public area if the path presents a change in height greater than ½ inch. A curb ramp must be 36 inches wide, not including handrails, and if the ramp rises more than six inches high, it must have railings.
Ramps must have uniform slopes, and no greater than an 8.33% slope. There are various requirements around the shape, size, and flared sides of ramps, so this is another important aspect to do thorough research on—and consider hiring a professional paving team to help you navigate these regulations so you can stay in compliance. Lifts and elevators can be substituted for ramps when needed, but they require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure proper functioning. More info: Curb Ramps, from archive.ADA.gov
How Can Cassidy Paving Help You With Your Commercial Property’s ADA Compliance?
Now that you have more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and what it entails for your parking lots and entryways, what can you do if you’re unsure whether your property is ADA compliant? Good news: the asphalt services provided by Cassidy Paving can improve ADA compliance in the near term and maintain it for the long term. We can help your property become a welcoming, accessible, and supportive place for people of all abilities, while also ensuring that you stay out of trouble with legal and liability concerns due to ADA noncompliance on your paved areas.
One of our focus areas at Cassidy Paving is ADA compliance, so we are well-versed in the regulations around parking lots, curbs, and ramps. To improve property accessibility, we can install ADA-compliant curbs and ramps wherever required, meeting the specifications laid out by the law. We have worked with many large and small clients across industries—from commercial to industrial to local, state, and federal government. And we’re confident in our ability to turn any asphalt paved area into an ADA compliant property.
Cassidy Paving is a family-owned and operated asphalt paving company headquartered in Haverhill, MA and serves clients throughout Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Our asphalt repair and maintenance services include cut and patch repairs, milling, overlay and resurfacing, pulverizing and grading, reclamation, full depth reconstruction, and even commercial snow removal services. We can help you install curb ramps, restripe your parking lots, or pave new ramps for ADA compliance concerns. We use top-of-the-line equipment to complete every project on time, on budget, and to the highest standards. Our full-time crew has over 100 years of combined experience—and on top of that, they’re bonded with full liability and full workers’ compensation insurance. And we even offer a guarantee on all new paving services to ensure your complete satisfaction.
Contact us today to speak with one of our helpful representatives and discuss any concerns or needs you have surrounding your commercial property’s ADA compliance, or any other questions about asphalt paving, maintenance, and repair.