Have you considered whether your office is truly accessible? It’s been nearly three decades since the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) created guidelines to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
Only about 6% of disabled people use a wheelchair, but wheelchair accessibility is most people’s first thought when it comes to compliance. What about the other 94%, including those with invisible disabilities?
While having features like curb ramps, wheelchair lifts, and handrails are vital to ADA compliance, what other features can help make an office space more accessible? Further, instead of treating these items as afterthoughts to appease regulators, many designers and architects have begun to see how they can be incorporated into office design to create a more appealing space.
Creating Accessibility in Office Spaces
As a business, you should be paying close attention to Titles I and III of the ADA, which governs employment and public accommodations. You aren’t subject to ADA compliance if you are a startup (in business less than 20 weeks), employ less than 15 people, or occupy a building constructed in the early 90s.
But providing accommodations is still the right thing to do if you are able. According to the ADA, an accessible or ADA-compliant office space is one that includes:
- Accessible Entrances – You must provide at least one accessible entrance to your business.
- Hallways and Doorways – Hallways and doorways should be at least 36 inches wide, and doorways must be accessible to people with disabilities.
- Tables and Desks – Tables and desks must be at least 27 inches high.
- Digital Accessibility – All digital properties should be accessible for employees with disabilities.
Going Beyond Function With Accessible Office Spaces
You could make your office fully accessible and downright ugly at the same time. But, your employees won’t be happy and will probably be less productive. According to a recent story by the Washington Post, architects and designers have taken a more holistic approach to office and space accessibility.
In the past, offices that aimed for ADA-compliance were often a mishmash of dysfunction, sometimes looking for small fixes instead of thinking about the bigger picture. A step forward is to consider accessibility and wellness as a single goal.
The compliance standards can be met with wider hallways and ramps, but other features, such as accessible porches, oversized light switches, and subtle signals on wallpaper can give people with limitations a sense of safety and wellbeing. Other examples are including a barrier-free sink in the office space and paying more attention to the use of lighting for function and mood.
If you own or manage a commercial site, it’s vital that you maintain ADA compliance. At Carolina Services Inc., (CSI), we specialize in commercial space planning, construction, tenant up-fits, and offer other turnkey services that can help your business create accessible and aesthetically-pleasing office spaces.
Contact our office today to learn more about our services in the Charleston, SC area.