The Importance of ADA Compliance in the Elevator Industry

ADA Compliance for Elevator Professionals

In the elevator industry, compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is vital to ensure that every member of the riding public has the opportunity and access to use elevators. The ADA is a comprehensive act that offers all-encompassing guidelines on how elevators must be installed and maintained, from specific height requirements and placements of buttons and handrails to elevator cab dimension requirements and braille and sound indicators.

Let’s talk about ADA regulations in the elevator industry and find out why ADA compliance is important, and why accessibility and inclusivity are vital for people to live their lives on their terms.

Understanding Code and Safety

ADA compliance may not seem like an issue that is relevant to everyone, but to make elevators universally accessible regardless of one’s physical limitations, the importance of code and safety cannot be understated. Many aspects of the functionality of an elevator may go under the radar of the riding public.

For instance, did you know that every time you’re in an elevator and it dings, it is signaling that it has traveled another floor? This may seem like an arbitrary feature, but for people with difficulty seeing or other physical constraints, such an indication is necessary for the correct use of an elevator – as it may be the only way that person can know where the elevator is and how far it’s traveled. Regulations like those outlined in the ADA and enforced by local, regional, and national codes ensure each person, regardless of physical ability, has the opportunity to access and use elevators.

The Importance of ADA Compliance

ADA compliance ensures elevators are safe, available, and accessible for all people who need to use them. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is responsible for setting many of the codes and standards used by the elevator industry. ASME’s adoption of ADA regulations bridges the gap between the elevator code and broader accessibility requirements, illustrating the industry’s commitment to inclusivity by implementing standards that mirror those set out by the relevant experts.

ADA Requirements

ADA requirements for the elevator industry cover a wide range of topics and specifications, from the floorplan and placement of assistance rails inside of the car to the wall fixtures. The ASME standards that cover ADA compliance in relation to the elevator industry are A17.1 and A117.1.

It’s important that elevator professionals, manufacturers, and building managers adhere to ADA requirements while working, and with the clear standards laid out by the ADA and echoed by ASME, compliance should be a given.

ADA requirements ensure that any person with a physical disability can independently get to, enter, and use a site, facility, building, or event. Such disabilities may include difficulty walking, blindness and visual impairment, or deafness and hearing impairment. These requirements include communication enhancements such as accessible two-way communication for the hearing or visually impaired, as well as braille on doors, hall call buttons, and emergency buttons to further amplify accessibility.

Handrail Heights and Placement

ADA compliance begins with the basics, and one fundamental element is the handrail. Handrails are there to assist individuals with balance issues. The ADA ensures height and placement consistency of handrails in elevators and throughout the entire building. This uniformity is key because the act of grabbing and holding onto handrails is one based on muscle memory. In some cases, handrails may need to be opposite the operating panel, ensuring accessibility for all passengers.

Position Indicators and Call Buttons

The height of position indicators is important because people with disabilities are required to rely on their muscle memory more than the average person. Position indicators must be mounted a designated number of inches above the floor. Hall indicators must light up, and must meet dimension requirements. The arrows on the hall indicators must be visible from the floor area adjacent to the call buttons.

Hall call buttons are just as vital as position indicators, and also need to follow ADA guidelines. They must be centered at a specific distance above floor level, and meet the code requirements for a minimum diameter. They must light up when activated (pressed). Code also requires visual and audible signals at each entrance to indicate which car is answering a call, as well as the direction in which the car is traveling. Visual signals inside the elevator car must be visible from the floor area adjacent to the hall call button.

Braille Characters

The use of braille characters is also required for ADA compliance in elevators. Advancements in technology within the industry in recent years mean our industry has come a long way from the days when an attendant would announce aloud the destination and direction of the elevator.

Nowadays, code requires that floor designations be marked with raised characters and braille. These raised characters must be located on the entrance jambs of the elevator, with a raised star shape used on both door jambs to indicate the main entry level. This enables visually impaired members of the public to verify that the floor they’ve landed on matches their desired selection.

Elevator Car Floorplan & Other Features

Finally, the interior of elevator cars must comply with ADA standards to ensure the overall accessibility of the elevator. For full compliance, code specifies both the depth and width of an elevator car. Requirements for clear floor area and door width are also dictated by code.

Where provided, car keypads must be marked with visual characters and arranged in the same order as a standard telephone keypad with the number five (marked with a single raised dot) in the center. This dot, referred to as a node, must be of a specified base diameter and height. This allows people with visual impairments to identify the placement and layout of the keypad.

Final Words on ADA Compliance

In the elevator industry, adherence to ADA compliance is not just about meeting standards; it’s about fostering an environment where technology serves everyone equally and ensuring that each and every member of the general public can enjoy the use of elevators.