The Americans with Disabilities Act provides many useful guidelines for business owners who seek to comply with the requirements for accommodating those with disabilities. If your company does any new construction, you must meet the guidelines in the ADA, including carefully researched standards for accessible entrances, bathrooms and other areas.
Over the decades as the ADA evolved to assist more disabled citizens in remaining active in society, it became clear that parking was an issue. You probably recognize that the typical parking space at a shopping center or business does not allow enough room for a wheelchair-bound person to safely and comfortably exit a vehicle. Further, wheelchair-assist vehicles need extra space on the sides to allow for ramps and wider doors. This is why the ADA requires you to follow specific rules when creating parking spaces for your business.
When you and your contractor design the parking area for your company, you must include spaces reserved specifically for people with disabilities. These spaces must be as close as possible to the entrance of the building and have a 60-inch access aisle that connects the spaces to the entrance as safely as possible. This means trying to avoid an access aisle that passes behind parked cars or crosses traffic if possible.
Other ADA regulations about parking spaces for accessibility include the following:
- You should mark ADA accessible parking spaces and access aisles as clearly as possible, including using signage with the International Symbol of Accessibility, which is a white wheelchair on a blue background.
- Spaces that meet the ADA minimum width for van access should also have signage that designates them as van accessible.
- When you include access aisles, make sure they are level and do not have built-up curbs, which may be hazardous if the slope is too steep.
- Loading zones for disabled passengers must not extend into traffic areas.
- If you clearly mark loading zones for passengers, other drivers will be less likely to park in them.
The ADA specifications for width, height and length of parking spaces are precise and complex, and it would be easy to overlook or miscalculate an important directive. Additionally, California has its own standards based on ADA, and you would do well to know these restrictions to avoid an accommodations lawsuit that could financially devastate your business. Seeking legal advice from an attorney with extensive experience in ADA law is a wise move.