By Adam Horton,
Home Access Division Manager
Active American Mobility
The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed July 26, 1991. It was created to prevent discrimination against individuals or groups that have disabilities, either mental or physical. While the ADA was passed to prevent discrimination against individuals in the workplace, public settings, buildings, restaurants, etc., it did not cover anything in the home environment. There are, however, guidelines that are put in place that in the event that a home is being built to ADA guidelines. The problem with this is that it is a mere guideline and not a requirement that can be enforced by code specifically for ADA.
The ADA guideline for a finished door opening is 32”. Most doors in a home are 24”-30”. Exterior doors do have to be wider with one exterior door a minimum of 36”. Other doors in the home are sometimes wide enough, but this is typically the master bedroom and master bathroom doors. A typical hallway is 36” wide, but should be 48” wide to meet ADA requirements. Also, most homes come with a concrete entry walk that joins to a porch with a step up to the porch and also a step into the home. ADA requirements call for a minimum of one no-step entrance into a home for ease of access for mobility equipment. Light switches and thermostats should be a minimum of 48”-54” from the floor and 40” if they are over a counter top. The list of changes goes on and on. The problem with all of this is none of it is required in a typical home setting. It is recommended but not required.
Most home builders will make the changes to a home to meet ADA standards, but it all comes at a cost. Builders will charge a fee most of the time they deviate from the original plan. However, these changes don’t cost much money at all, and if managed properly will only make the home more accessible and accommodating living area.
On a positive note, one organization is making a mark in becoming the “ADA” of the home environment. Accessible Home Improvement of America™ is a new organization that addresses the gaps for home owners that ADA leaves behind. AHIA™ consists of a nationwide network of independently owned and operated , certified providers and contractors dedicated to providing accessible home modifications and related services.
AHIA™ also offers the CEAC (Certified Environmental Access Consultant) credential. This credential brings professionalism and diversity to current businesses. The CEAC™ credential certifies that the consultant is a specialist in independent living strategies, universal design, barrier free access and design, assistive technology, retrofitting, home modifications, and medical remodeling.
Active American will be CEAC certified in the coming months and we look forward to supporting AHIA™
For more information contact Active American Home Access and Construction.