The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. It applied to all areas of public life including transportation, accommodations, and employment. It is important for any commercial office building owner to comply with ADA standards as not being in compliance is against the law. An ADA compliant office building shows employees and the public that you care about the wellbeing of your employees.
How to Make Your Commercial Office Accessible?
It is important to follow ADA guidelines to make sure your office building is accessible to all people. Of particular importance is Title I, which prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotions, firing, training, benefits, and any condition of employment on the basis of disability. Additionally, Title III is important as it governs public accommodations like office buildings and work spaces. Your office building should provide accommodations that allow all employees of all abilities to perform their job and allow full access to all facilities and services.This also applies to both employees, and customers or other individuals visiting your commercial office. The ADA also guides policies and procedures in your office including communication and personal interactions. By establishing an ADA-compliant workspace, your employees can work to the best of their abilities, so they and the company can reach full potential. A workspace that is not accessible will prevent people from working safely and is against the law.
Does My Office Need to Be Compliant?
Commercial offices are required to make any and all reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities of any kind. Reasonable accommodations are those that can be achieved without excessive expenses or difficulty in developing.Most offices need to be compliant, with a few exceptions including:
- Companies that have been in business less than 20 years
- An office that has 14 employees or less
- A building that was constructed in the early 1990s
Should your business or office fall into one of these categories, you are not necessarily relieved of responsibility. As your business grows and changes, ADA compliance will become a requirement. So, if you are in the initial stages of developing a business and office spaces, it is wise to consider potential growth in the beginning, that way you can effectively plan ahead for the ADA standards you will be required to incorporate into your office.
How To Design A Commercial Office?
There are a few important factors to consider as you work to create an ADA-compliant office space.
- Accessible Entrances: There needs to be at least one accessible entrance to the office. Small steps can prevent wheelchair access but you can get around this by installing a ramp. In cases where an existing entrance cannot be easily modified, you can create a secondary accessible entrance.
- Doorways and Hallways: Doors and hallways must be at least 36 inches wide, for easy navigation. Any double doors in the office with individual doors measuring less than 36 inches wide, must both be left open during the business day. Any carpeting in the office and hallways must be properly secured and never more than ½-inch thick.
- Desks and Tables: Desks need to be at least 27 inches in height to accommodate wheelchairs so employees can sit there without bumping the armrests. Adjustable desks are a great way to accommodate everyone and although electric height-adjustable desks are more expensive they provide a more cost-effective and inclusive solution for the long term.
Accessibility Is Easy
The ADA codes and standards may seem complex, but they are quite simple to incorporate into your commercial office plans and designs. In most cases, the codes can be met with simple office modifications. When it comes to accessibility, the smallest changes make the biggest difference and you will have happy employees and customers. Plan ahead for any changes as your office grows, so you can be sure that your commercial office is always accessible.