A few weeks ago, I wrote about the accessible route. I included one of my favorite internet photos of the stair with a ramp added to it. Most of the time when we think about accessibility, a wheelchair is typically envisioned. While this an easy to grasp concept, the ADA is more than just the wheelchair. It accounts for all aspects of accessibility. This includes the blind, those on crutches and other limited mobility challenges.
A question came up at the office how high can a window be on a door? Section 404.2.11 of the ADA states that the lowest part of the glazed panel can not exceed 43” above the floor. However, there is an exception, if the lowest part is at 66” (or greater) then it does not have to comply with this section. Wait you ask why 66”? the average eye level for people is 48” to 60”. 66” is consider above average, and a vision light at this height is more for decoration than practical use.
Back to the vision light at 43”. The next issue was, well the door hardware is getting too close. The operable part off the door per ADA can be between 34” and 48”. Keep in mind, this is a special requirement for doors, which is different from the typical reach range of 15” to 48”. This higher height is due to a door handle at 15” would be unreachable for someone on crutches. If you go and measure a typical door, you will find it is at 36”. And if you set your vision height at 42” you still have 6” of door to maintain the integrity and durability of the door.
This is one of those pitfalls, setting the vision height on the design documents at 43” typically will create a door with a cut opening at 43”. Then when it is installed in the field with a vision kit, the frame will set the glazing at 44”. When a minimum or maximum is provided in the ADA, it is just that, an exact number and tolerances don’t apply. The minimum (and max) is the tolerance provided in the ADA.
The next question is what about the peep hole? ADA doesn’t say how high a peep hole is? ADA doesn’t specifically address peepholes. But it does fall under the idea of being a doors vision light. So, the accessible peephole should be mounted at 43”. But back to the individual that can’t bend that low, a peephole at 60” is a better height. Best practice is to provide 2 peepholes for accessible apartments, hotel suites, housing or even businesses. One at each height of 43” and 60”.
At the beginning I had a small note that accessibility covers the blind. The overall concept is accessibility for all. Don’t create barriers or roadblocks that limits what we can accomplish on our own and with out assistance. Which leaves me with a closing question that I use to get when I first started doing site inspection on banks. Why is there braille on a drive-up ATM? The simple answer is if the blind person is in a Taxi, they should be able to use the ATM without giving away their PIN.
…and now for something completely different.
Your favorite drink Coca Cola would have an unappetizing green color, if it did not have any added food coloring.