A critical look at the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)

November 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Do you know where the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) come from????  

Most people are unaware that these guidelines were created from data that was taken from the military back in the ’60s and the ’70s.  Anthropometric measurements (body measurements) were collected and provided a baseline to create the technical specifications for accessible spaces.  So, essentially, this data was taken from mostly young men, who are in very good physical shape and are now being utilized to represent the disability population.  Are you starting to see the problem here?

It is important to have a baseline, data to draw from, however, please keep in mind that the ADA accessibility guidelines are considered minimum requirements.   This means that they are going to meet the ‘minimum’ need for accessibility within a community space.  This is why use of ADA accessibility guidelines is NOT recommended for a person’s home.  

For example:  ADA grab bar height is 33-36″ above the finished floor.  This may meet some people’s needs, but because it is a minimum requirement, it certainly will not meet all people’s needs and is certainly not very individualized.  Why place a grab bar in your home in a location that is not specified to your needs?  Consider, they do not specify that all walking canes have to be between 33-36″ in height–instead, what is done, is the cane is measured to the height that meets the individual’s needs…..and so should grab bars in your home.  Recommendations from an occupational therapist regarding  installation of grab bars based on ergonomics provides for maximum access and safety by the end-user.

Knowledge is power. ~Francis Bacon

Entry filed under: Accessibility, ADA, Home Safety, occupational therapy. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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