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ADA Title III: ramp requirements.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public accommodations remove architectural barriers that are structural in nature in existing facilities, when it is "readily achievable" to do so. This requirement went into effect on January 26, 1992. New construction in public accommodations and commercial facilities must be accessible if the facility was designed for first occupancy after January 26, 1993.

Getting people with disabilities in the front door of a business or public accommodation should be the first priority of those responsible for that facility. This includes accessible parking spaces, curb cuts where needed, and a ramp when steps lead to the entrance or anywhere along the accessible route. However, installing extensive ramps or elevators would generally not be required to compensate for a complete flight of stairs.

Many public accommodations are located in leased or rented facilities. Leases should spell out who is responsible for access to the facility and other ADA-access compliance measures. According to ADA, both landlord and tenant are responsible and may be named in a complaint.

A ramp may be a relatively inexpensive means of access into a business and high on the list of priorities for accessibility that the Justice Department published. Cost of ramps can vary, depending on size, material, and features.

Installing a ramp is considered "readily achievable barrier removable" and, in most cases, may qualify for federal tax incentives. For information on these tax incentives, call the PVA Advocacy Program at (800) 424-8200, ext. 709.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) has been adopted by the Department of Justice as standards for new and existing facilities under Title III. For a free copy of ADAAG, contact the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111. (800) USA-ABLE (voice/TDD).

The information furnished here is a general description of the federal guidelines for the Americans With Disabilities Act. More specifications are included in ADAAG 4.8. This does not provide obligations that may apply under state or local law. Appropriate professionals should be consulted where alterations or construction are necessary to comply with ADA.



New Construction

* The least possible slope shall be used for any ramp

* The maximum slope shall be 1:12 (1" vertical rise for 12" horizontal length)

* Maximum rise for any run is 30"

Existing Facilities

* Where space limitations prohibit use of 1:12, the following slopes are acceptable:

Maximum rise of 6" = 1:10 to 1:12 slope

Maximum rise of 3" = 1:8 to 1:10 slope

* Slopes steeper than 1:8 are prohibited

Historic Preservation

* Maximum slope of 1:6 for a run not to exceed 24" may be used as part of an accessible route to an entrance

Ramp Width

* Minimum of 36"


* Level landings are required at the top and bottom of each ramp

* Level landings are required for every 30" of rise

* Minimum landing width: width of ramp

* Minimum length of landings: 60"

* If ramp changes direction at landing: landing shall be minimum of 60" x 60"


* Required if the rise exceeds 6" or the run exceeds 72"

* Height of handrails shall be 34-38" above ramp surface

* Space between handrail and wall shall be 1 1/2"

* Dimension or width of gripping surface shall be 1 1/4 to 1 1/2"

* Required on both sides of ramp

* Ends shall be rounded or returned smoothly to floor, wall, or post (Additional requirements for handrails are found in ADAAG 4.26)

Cross Slope

* Maximum cross slope is 1:50


* Surface shall be firm, stable, and slip-resistant. If carpeted, it must meet requirements of accessible route (sec. 4.5.3)

Edge Protection

* Ramps and landings with vertical side drop-offs shall have walls, railings, projecting surfaces, or minimum 2"- high curbs to prevent people from slipping off the ramp.
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Title Annotation:Americans with Disabilities Act
Author:Daley, Rich
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Date:May 1, 1993
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