Door Openers – and Closers!
When was the last time you had trouble getting in the front door of a business? You may not have noticed a few pesky steps or an extra bit of exertion to enter the building. But, for someone in a wheelchair, or a frail, elderly person, it might as well have a “Closed” sign on the door.
Luckily, there is an organization that helps individuals gain access to commercial entities by helping builders, architects and engineers understand the rules and regulations of accessibility. Guiding this process from the ground up, the national organization, Accessibility Professionals Association (APA), has members who can help a building owner design a structure that intuitively accommodates many types of disabilities.
Architects and engineers can take advantage of classes and conferences offered by APA that sort out and streamline standards provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is commonly known as the ADA. This landmark legislation, signed into law on July 26, 1990, prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Despite its widespread acceptance, violations occur regularly. For example, in Texas, Registered Accessibility Specialists (RASs) are licensed by the State to ensure buildings have had their building plans reviewed and inspected to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations. These rules apply not only to new buildings but to buildings which undergo substantial renovations.
Savvy business owners are wise to keep their doors wide open to this growing group of people with disabilities. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly one in five people have a disability. And, that number will reflect the growing number of baby boomers who will enlist the help of canes, walkers, and wheelchairs as they pursue an active lifestyle in retirement. Research has shown that adding simple touches like ramps, better lighting and larger signage, which are used by many, is appreciated by many and often helps create better overall designs.
In fact, one small item that helps the disabled come through the doors is ironically called a “closer” – a mechanical device that keeps a door open for 20 seconds. This bit of hands-free time is welcomed by all who enter. For more information on how you can keep “Open for business” meaning open for all, contact Accessibility Professionals Association (APA) http://www.accessibilityprofessionals.org