Are you an owner of a commercial property? Ever wondered the guidelines on providing accessible parking spaces for your facility? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers this, ensuring accessible spaces for everybody in all aspects of public life.
Understanding the ADA
What is the ADA? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. It protects the rights of people with disabilities in all aspects of American life. These include the following:
- Access to state and local government services
- Places of public accommodation
The ADA primarily involves three aspects- Title I, applying to employment and other job-related concerns, Title II, involving state or local government entities, and Title III, which involves prohibing discrimination in places of public accommodations. The purpose of the ADA is to protect people with disabilities by providing guidelines and regulations which would ensure that all people have the appropriate means and necessary assistance to carry out day-to-day functions with minimal impediment.
Upholding this, the ADA requires business owners to comply with the regulations on disabled parking, specifically regarding the minimum number of accessible parking spaces required, van parking spaces, access aisles, among other things. If you own, operate or lease to a business that serves the public, then you are required to comply by the ADA.
In 2010, the U S Department of Justice (DOJ) issued updated regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These regulations require compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design which will be further discussed later.
ADA, Title III
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination among people with disabilities when it comes to public accommodations and commercial properties/facilities. Business owners are required to provide accessible entrances to their establishment. This includes specifications on parking facilities, such as van accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zone, number of accessible spaces in parking lots and other parking facilities, and others.
What are considered as commercial properties?
According to the ADA, a commercial facility refers to facilities:
- Whose operations will affect commerce;
- That are intended for nonresidential use by a private entity; and
- That are not facilities that are covered or expressly exempted from coverage under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, aircraft or anything considered as railroad cars
Included under this category are factories, warehouses, office buildings, and other buildings where employment may occur. Although privately owned airports fall under this category, these are not considered as places of public accommodation.
What are considered as places of public accommodation?
The ADA defines a place of public accommodation as a facility operated by a private entity whose operations affect commerce. Some of the many mentioned places of public accommodation according to the ADA are:
- Inns, hotels, motels
- Restaurants, bars
- Theaters, concert halls, stadiums
- Auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls
- Bakeries, grocery stores, clothing stores, hardware stores, shopping centers
- Barber shops, beauty shops, banks, dry cleaners
- Terminals and stations for public transportation
- Schools and other places of educations
- Gymnasium, health spas, golf courses
A public accommodation involves a private entity owning, leasing or operates any of the said places above.
Under Title III of the ADA, places of public accommodation are required to remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, where removal is readily achievable. Examples of these barriers are installing ramps, widening doors, and creating designated accessible parking spaces. The ADA urges and prioritizes places of public accommodation to address the previously mentioned barriers, providing an accessible entrance and accessible route to a person with a disability.
Accessible spaces and parking
Businesses and privately owned facilities that are considered as public accommodations or commercial properties are required to have accessible parking spaces which are of ADA compliance or follow the 2010 ADA standards. For instance, a parking space or any parking facility will be deemed an accessible space when it has an access aisle or spaces serving as an accessible route for a person with a disability.
Parking lot requirements for hospital outpatient facilities, outpatient physical therapy facilities or residential facilities have different requirements accessibility. Exclusive parking spaces for delivery vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, and the like are not required to comply with the ADA.
Required number of accessible parking spaces
The required number of accessible parking spaces must be calculated separately for each parking facility, not calculated based on the total number of parking spaces provided on a site. One of six (or fraction of six) accessible parking spaces, but always at least one, must be van accessible. The total number of spaces in a parking lot, minimum number of accessible spaces required (car and van) and minimum number of van parking spaces/van accessible parking spaces (respectively) in a parking lot are as follows:
- For every 1-25 parking spaces, parking spaces shall have at least 1 parking space for both a car and van, at least 1 van parking space in parking lots
- For every 25-50 parking spaces, parking spaces shall at least 2 parking spaces for both a car and van, at least 1 van parking space in parking lots
- 201-300 parking spaces, at least 7 parking spaces for both a car and van, and at least 6 van parking spaces
- 500-1000 parking spaces, 2% of total parking provided in each lot or structure, and for van parking space 1/6 of the 2%
The accessible parking slot in parking lots should be located on the shortest accessible route of travel towards an accessible facility entrance, which as much as possible share a common access of entry. Parking spaces and access aisles are considered an accessible route/accessible space when there are no curbs, stairs, is at least 3 feet wide, and has a firm, stable and slip-resistance surface. The spaces must account for the passenger loading zone, a part of the access aisle, which requires at least 96 inches and 20 feet wide long space.
A parking space identification sign must include the international symbol of accessibility. An access aisle may be shared between two cars if the parking space is not angled. The ramps must not extend the access aisle. The parking spaces must be identified with lines. The parking spaces must also including the space/boundary of access aisles. Access aisles may be at either side of the vehicle, except in angled parking spaces.
Additional Features for Van-Accessible Parking Spaces
A van accessible parking space has additional requirements on top of the mentioned above. There are different widths of the van parking space of access aisle/access aisles. A van accessible space requires at least 98 inches of vertical clearance. This vertical clearance is for the parking space, access aisle and vertical route to and from a van parking slot.
A van accessible parking space identification sign including the international symbol of accessibility, along with the designation “van accessible” is required. The number of van accessible spaces would depend on the number of available parking slots of a facility (see above).
To find out how many parking spaces are required, kindly refer to the US Department Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section’s ADA Compliance Brief on Restriping Parking Spaces and the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.