ADA accessible Mirror: FAIL

Help!  I can’t see myself! ADA accessible Mirror FAIL!

A few nights ago, I was sitting on the potty in the accessible restroom at a classy private club.  I looked over at the ADA accessible mirror and realized that the bottom of the glass was at least 52″ above the floor. The required accessible mirror was more than a foot higher than the ADA 2010 Code rule.  I took the photo of the ADA accessible mirror while sitting down.  At 66″ tall when standing, I still needed to stretch a bit to check my lipstick.

I am not writing this to “out’ any business.  I just want to make the point of how small, often overlooked things can impact the life of a person living with a disability.

Just because your architect designed your building to meet the 2010 ADA codes, does not mean that it was built and furnished to code!

Private Clubs that allow non-members to attend functions, are not exempt from the Americans With Disabilities Act rules for Places of Accommodation.  Accessible restrooms must meet the ADA code requirements for dimensions, including each ADA accessible mirror at each accessible sink. Please see the diagram below for ADA restroom fixture code dimensions.

Even thought the club recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, having a small decorative mirror was someone’s  priority over providing a code compliant accessible mirror.  An ADA accessible mirror does not need to be ugly.  It just needs to be low enough for a person sitting in a wheelchair or a person of short stature to see their own reflection.

Why doesn’t at this business realize that situations like this provide a basis for someone with a disability to sue the business and the building owner for ADA compliance?

At Disability Smart Solutions, we work with businesses and building owners to survey their properties to ensure that they have all of the information they need in order to correct all areas to meet ADA compliance.  In 2013 the 2010 ADA Code became law in Florida.  Please give us a call.

It pays to have an impartial ADA Consultant inspect your business for code compliance.

In 2013,  Florida was one of the leading states in the total number of ADA discrimination lawsuits for architectural barriers.

Please read our article, “Top 10 Reasons for Access Violations,” for more information about areas where your business might FAIL for ADA compliance.

PTSD Service Dogs, Life Savers

 

PTSD Service Dogs can save a person’s life! There are waiting lists of 2 to 3.5 years for disabled veterans who need a trained PTSD Service Dog.  Why?

I have served on the Board of Directors of The Dog Liberator since it’s inception.  The Dog Liberator is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing homeless and abandoned dogs, primarily dogs from high-kill shelters and owners who can no longer care for them. By working with committed volunteers, local veterinarians, trainers, and foster homes, TDL has been able to rescue hundreds of dogs every year.  From June of 2009 to date, TDL has rescued, rehabilitated, spay/neutered, and re-homed over 700 dogs throughout the Southeast.   The adopted dogs have gone on to lives as service dogs, working dogs, and pets.

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.
Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.

Last week a person contacted The Dog Liberator requesting assistance in re-homing a fully trained PTSD and seizure alert German Shepherd, whose owner had passed away.  The dog’s guardian will assist in selecting the new owner who most closely meets the dog’s needs.

The transition will include a foster period and training with a professional service dog trainer.

On Veteran’s Day, the dog was posted  to Facebook.  The post received over 250 shares and over 90,000 views.  By the next day, more than 40 people had contacted The Dog Liberator wanting the dog.  Many of the stories were heartbreaking.

We were surprised by how many people assumed that any “Service Dog” could perform  “ANY” service.

We were surprised by people who did not understand that they would need to work with a professional trainer to see if this Service Dog was a fit for them and to ensure that they were properly engaging with the dog and his abilities.

We were surprised by how many people did not realize that there are many different facets to PTSD and that individual Service Dogs are trained for specific tasks for specific people.

Several inquiries were identified as people who had the intention of selling the dog for a high profit.   The outpouring of attention brought the overwhelming need for trained Alert PTSD Service Dogs to the forefront.  None of us had any idea how difficult it is for disabled veterans and people living  with PTSD and/or brain injuries too quickly and inexpensively acquire a trained Alert PTSD Service Dog.  We witnessed first hand a lot of misinformation

Heartbreak!

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.
Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.

The most heartbreaking story came from an out of state veteran who works with other veterans with PTSD and brain injuries.

He confirmed that there is a 2 year to 3.5 plus year waiting period for trained PTSD Service Dogs in his state.

He told us that in his county alone, 22 veterans with PTSD and/or brain injuries committed suicide last year and 17 veterans so far in 2014 have committed suicide.  I choke back tears just writing this and thinking of these selfless individuals who served our country and now suffer alone.

We spoke to another disabled veteran in Wisconsin with PTSD.  She told us that her wait was much shorter and her fees much lower.  Her service dog is a seizure alert, heart attack alert and PTSD dog who carries her medications and instructions.   Once she was introduced to her breeder, her interactions with her puppy began at birth.  As soon as the puppy was old enough to  leave his mother,  they participated in a weekly training session at her own home for 10 months.  She didn’t discuss the fees but told me that the total was significantly less than mentioned above.  The key to her training was having the puppy sleep on her heart from the day he was born.  Dogs quickly clue into their person’s body signals.

How do we get more PTSD Service Dogs trained quickly and into these Veterans homes?

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. Please read our latest post at Disability Smart Solutions. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.Our disabled veteran friend in Wisconsin  told me that in her state the prisoners train abandoned dogs from the animal shelters as PTSD and Alert Service Dogs.  They have a work program that is coordinated with the local Veterans organization.  The prisoners enjoy the interaction with their dogs and know that their work will make the difference in a veteran’s life.   By  minimizing training fees, they can  train the services dogs quickly and at a lower cost.  It sounds like a win-win program that should be duplicated across the country.  How does that happen?

Suicide Rates Among Veterans

Per CNN September 2013 article.

  • (CNN) — Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher.
  • Nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, even though veterans make up about 10% of the U.S. population.
  • “There’s probably a tidal wave of suicides coming,” says Brian Kinsella, an Iraq war veteran who started Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit group that works to raise awareness of suicide. Between October 2006 and June 2013, the Veterans Crisis Line received more than 890,000 calls. That number does not include chats and texts.
  • Per our Wisconsin disabled veteran friend, she believes that many veteran suicides are related to changes in medications, difficulty getting medical services,  cutbacks in pain medications, living with extreme physical pain, feeling abandoned and a feeling of “hopelessness.”

What is PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?   

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating anxiety disorder that occurs after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that involves either a real or perceived threat of injury or death.   In the old days, veterans referred to it as “shell shock.”

PTSD sufferers have a heightened sense of danger and impending doom. Their natural “fight or flight response” is damaged, causing them to feel stressed or fearful even in safe situations.

Many disabled veterans with PTSD experience: 

  • flashbacks, in which it feels as if the event is occurring over and over
  • intrusive, vivid memories of the event
  • frequent nightmares about the event
  • mental or physical discomfort when reminded of the event
  • emotional apathy
  • detachment from or lack of interest in daily activities
  • amnesia (memory loss) about the actual event
  • inability to express feelings
  • avoidance of people or situations that are reminders of the event
  • difficulty concentrating
  • startling easily
  • exaggerated response to startling events
  • constantly feeling on guard (hypervigilance)
  • irritability or bouts of anger
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • may be plagued by guilt, worry, and depression
  • susceptible to panic attacks, which can cause:
  • agitation or excitability
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness or fainting
  • racing or pounding heart
  • headache
  • PAIN and fluctuations in availability of medications

Is there a way to identify and rescue more homeless dogs with the intuitive abilities to be trained as PTSD Alert Service Dogs and connect them with Veterans who need them?

Things we learned about Service Dogs!

  1. There is between a 2 year and 3.5-year waiting list for Disabled Veterans with PTSD who want and need a trained Service Dog.
  2. Many PTSD Service Dog trainers charge the Veteran between $12,000 and $25,000 for a “Certified” dog.  Only a few are donor supported.
  3. There is NO Federal ADA endorsed or supported certification.
  4. Certifications for Service Dogs are through the different societies who train the service dogs for different purposes.
  5. The ADA states that a Service Dog must be trained, but they do not specify who must train the dog.
  6. The ADA does not require a certificate of certification for a Service Dog.
  7. The ADA Federal Law mandates that a place of business, including food service, may not deny service to a person with a Service Dog.
  8. A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  9. There are “do it yourself” training programs for PTSD service dogs available on-line.
  10. Many people confuse Emotional Support Animals with Service Dogs.
  11. Emotional Support Animals are not protected as Service Dogs under the ADA.
  12. It is illegal to pretend that a Pet is a Service Dog.
  13. There are many companies on-line that sell fake Service Dog certificates.
  14. Service Dogs are trained to be good citizens in public.
  15.  A business owner may ask a person with a Service Dog to leave if the person does not maintain proper control of the animal.
  16. Food service businesses may not claim Health Laws to prevent a person with a Service Dog from entering their business.
  17. The Fair Housing Act for housing and The ADA for Public Places of Accommodation follow different rules.

The ADA law only permits a business to ask 2 questions about the Service Dog.

Gisele, the founder of The Dog Liberator. Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.
Gisele, the founder of The Dog Liberator. Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD can prevent suicide. PTSD Service Dogs save lives.

Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

By law, Staff cannot ask a Disabled Person:

  • about a person’s disability
  • to show or require medical documentation
  • to show or require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
  • ask that the dog demonstrates its ability to perform the work or task

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Barbi, a Deaf Alert Service Dog
Barbi, a Deaf Alert Service Dog

Examples of such work or tasks include:

  • guiding people who are blind
  • alerting people who are deaf
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Dogs and other animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

  • ONLY Dogs and in some cases miniature horses are recognized by the ADA as service animals.

Disability Smart Solutions offers FREE public service talks to community organizations about Service Dogs and other ADA issues. Please contact us if you need a speaker.

We train businesses about Service Dogs and offer an Undercover Mystery Disabled Guest with Service Dog site survey to business owners.

Universal Design or ADA?

The Difference between Universal Design and the ADA

Universal Design,  What is it?

Lumingrids
Lumigrids, Universal Design grid light projection defines the surface ahead for safe passage

Universal design makes products, houses, buildings and spaces easier, safer and more user-friendly for the widest range of people.

Disability Smart Solutions consults with manufacturers and inventors of universal design products.  We often recommend universal design solutions in our ADA Accessibility Surveys and Compliance Reports.   Please contact us to  review your product.

Lumigrids are a great example of a product that solves a problem that young able-bodied people often don’t think about.  The small mounted grid light projects a path on the ground ahead showing the location of any uneven surfaces.  This example of a universal design tool shows a man riding a bicycle at night.  The light becomes an accessibility product when mounted to the front of a walker or wheelchair.  The grid can aid people with limited visibility or create a safe path to follow at night.  Inventions and ideas like this that might have initially been invented for military use, are part of Universal design.

SeeSaw bathtub
The Flume ‘See-saw’ Tub for the physically disabled. Designers: Kim Jung Su, Yoon Ji Soo, and Kim Dong Hwan.

Universal Design evolved from accessible design to address needs not covered by the ADA, American Disabilities Act.

Universal Design recognizes a wider spectrum of abilities, to create things that are easier for everyone to use.

Universal Design includes the full spectrum of human motion.

 

LED faucet
Sweet LED faucet lights for kitchen or bathroom Blue light changes red when water heats up

 

Universal Design applies to any product that ranging from appliances to cars, to door handles, to hair brushes, to smartphones.

Universal Design applies to any type of architecture, including homes, public and commercial buildings.

key turner
The Key Turner promotes better grip and turning leverage when using a key. Those with arthritis or carpal tunnel will find the key an extremely useful tool. The Key Turner’s handle has two large finger holes for increased maneuverability.

Universal Design for homes helps older adults with Aging In Place products and spaces that are easier and safer to use.

Universal Design for housing, provides accessible design standards that are not included in CODE. Universal Design can apply to the community at large through urban planning, public transit, and New Urbanism.

What is the difference between Universal Design and the Americans with Disabilities Act?

  • The ADA,  Americans with Disabilities Act is legislation.
  • The ADA includes the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which are the minimum requirements for accessible buildings and facilities.
  • Universal Design is not a regulation.
  • The ADA focuses on protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.
  • UDkitchen2
    Universal design kitchen for a wheelchair user. Elevating sink, dishwasher drawer, microwave drawer, easy reach electrical outlets and lowered surfaces.

    Universal Design suggests best design practices to  meet the needs of a wide range of people.

  • The ADA does not apply to single-family housing.

 

ELIO Illuma Grip LED Grab Bars
ELIO Illuma Grip LED Grab Bars
  • Universal Design for housing brings accessibility  features to single family homes and commercial buildings.

Please share your Universal Design products with us.

Universal Design consultations and product reviews are available by our accessibility experts.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

Top 10 ADA Access Violations

Top 10 ADA Access Violations

The parking spot doesn't meet ADA Code! There is NO 60" access aisle next to the parking space. This is probably an angry Disabled Person who needed the access space to transfer to their wheelchair or who needed enough room for their walker. Before bashing the parker, know the code! SIde by side parking spaces often limit getting in and out of a car for a person with a mobility disability. Photo by Bonnie Leckowicz
The parking spot doesn’t meet ADA Code! There is NO 60″ access aisle next to the parking space. This is probably an angry Disabled Person who needed the access space to transfer to their wheelchair or who needed enough room for their walker. Side by side parking limits the space for getting in and out of a car for a person with a mobility disability. Photo by Bonnie Leckow

Our expert ADA Accessibility Consultants conduct ADA accessibility facility surveys for  non-compliance with the 2010 ADA Code.

This is the Top 10 List of the most common ADA violations we find.

Even if at first glance they appear simple, depending on the age and size of a property,  ADA accessibility violations can add up from a few dozen  to a few thousand violations.  By documenting all of the access violations, prioritizing which ones to repair first and providing compliance details in one report, Disability Smart Solutions provides an organized  compliance action plan for business and building owners to use to bring their properties into compliance.

Many of these ADA non-compliance items are low-cost changes that can be modified by on-site staff.

The Top 10 ADA Access Violations

Accessible FAIL, Improper Signage

1. Signs: Outdated, missing, incorrect, wrong height, hard to find or mounted wrong

2. Parking: The pavement or ramp slope is too steep or the wrong dimensions.  Parking spaces have no access aisle to get in and out of the car. Parking spaces are the wrong size.

3. Access Routes: Wrong signs, blocked ramps, blocked passageways or uneven surfaces 

4. Curb Ramps: Steep slopes  or other hazards

RAMP FAIL! Sure, let me hold the door for you as I sit here in my chair!
RAMP FAIL! Sure, let me hold the door for you as I sit here going nowhere in my chair!

5.Stairs:  hazard striping, uneven steps, lighting, signage, barriers or wrong railings

6. Pedestrian Ramps: No handrails, landings not level or no ramp

7. Restrooms: Too small or fixtures are out of reach

Dentist Office Vanity FAIL,
Dentist Office vanity FAIL! I see 4 ADA violations before even measuring. Do you know what they are?

8. Seating: No access for people with disabilities

9. Doorways: Clearance issues, door sizes, weight of door or improper door handles

10. Exits: blocked exits or no signs showing exits

The 2010 ADA Code is complex with over 1000 changes from the previous code.

Many places of accommodation are out of code because property owners assume that they are grandfathered in from an earlier code. The GRANDFATHER CLAUSE is limited.

Statistics show that 95% of US buildings are currently non-compliant.

Each of the examples in this list is an opportunity for ADA discrimination litigation. Each of these areas can be complex in interpreting the ADA Code.

It’s always a good idea to consult an independent ADA Accessibility Consultant to review your business for ADA compliance and smart solutions.

Disability Smart Solutions is a full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

Accessible Restroom Coat Hook, FAIL

Accessible Restroom Coat Hook: FAIL

Handicapped Toilet Room Purse Hook
Accessible coat hooks should be a maximum of 48″ above the floor. Sometimes I think the accessible coat hooks are mounted by a 6′-3 man who mounts them at his eye level!

A few days ago I used the accessible restroom at a private club. I was sitting on the potty wondering if a 6′-6″ man had mounted the accessible restroom coat hook.

Had I been a wheelchair user, a person of short stature, a child, or someone with a limited range of motion, my Breast Cancer Month purse would have been on the floor!!

Sometimes business owners forget that accessible stalls are for anyone with any disability! Invisible hidden disabilities like shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, arthritis, MS, tendinitis, gout and nerve damage may limit a person’s ability to reach a hook that is mounted out of range.ADA-reach-forwd

As a designer, I know that coat hook detail dimensions are always part of commercial construction documents.  In the 1980’s, I worked as a designer  in the Walt Disney World Architecture and Design Department.  Even before the ADA Code was law, their standard practice was to always mount restroom door coat hooks midway down the toilet stall door, in order to  deter pickpockets from reaching over the door to snatch a purse.

Over the years, I have spent many days on construction sites.  I know  that typically an installer is handed a box of coat hooks and told to mount them.  He rarely takes the time to read the plans.   Armed with a screw gun, he goes toilet stall door to toilet stall door just mounting the hooks at a height that works for him.   During “punch list” time, if the punch-out person isn’t familiar with the ADA code, they are just checking off boxes that there is a coat hook!  Even if a business was built to the 2010 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Code, it’s still a good idea to double check the details.

Accessible toilet coat hooks mounted too high are the type of little 2010 ADA Code violations that can really frustrate a person with a disability and inspire ADA Code litigation.  It might seem like a tiny detail, but if you are a person living with a disability, who needs to remove clothing or hang items while using the toilet, it becomes a BIG deal!

I know that if  I could not stand up to reach the high non-accessible coat hook, my beautiful Breast Cancer Month purse would be sitting on the germ filled floor.  If I needed to remove my jacket or any other clothing to take care of personal needs, my clean clothes would also be on the floor.  It’s often the little things that people who don’t live with a disability take for granted that make a HUGE difference in the life of a person living with a disability.

Ninja coat or hat hooks by Seletti
Ninja coat or hat hooks by Seletti

Let’s all do our own small part TODAY to make the world a little more accessible.  Grab a screw-driver and  check the coat hooks in your business restrooms.  If they are too high, please move them down.  A maximum  height of  48″ above the floor meets the 2010 ADA Code for accessible restroom coat hooks.   Together we can show consideration to our All-Ability guests and employees.

Do you like my purse?  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

Healing, Hydroponics and the Homeless, Accessible Garden

Healing, Hydroponics and the Homeless, Accessible Garden

Tom and I toured the Lighthouse Mission in Lakeland, Florida with the Central Florida Lady Bloggers.  Knowing that many of the homeless have disabilities, I was interested in seeing how they addressed accessibility at their facility.  Every 2010 ADA Code accessibility detail was taken into consideration in both their men’s and women’s facilities.

Our hosts always graciously asked if anyone would prefer to use the elevator, whenever we walked towards the stairs during our tour.

Accessible ramps mean that everyone is welcome
This is what an ADA compliant ramp looks like. Lighthouse in Lakeland makes sure that everyone is comfortable in their facilities.
Compliant stair handrail
This 12″ extension on a stair handrail makes all of the difference in balance.

We learned how Lighthouse Ministries takes a holistic approach to serving the homeless and community.  They provide “Success Sheltering,” which includes educational and vocational development for residents to discover a pathway of success in a safe living environment.  Everyone who lives on the campus is given an opportunity to experience peace, life purpose and fulfillment of potential.

Success Sheltering includes nutritious meals, safe shelter, clothing, personal financial management,  addiction recovery,  case management, childcare,  transportation,  domestic violence safe haven, adult education, dorm life for college & vocational training, employment, career advancement, leadership training, life skills, life coaching, discipleship, mentoring, responsible living and serving others.

We were fascinated with the 7000 square foot urban hydroponic garden that provides fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to the shelter. Male residents re-enter the workforce by starting in the garden.  They find it a peaceful work experience that helps them to recover from the streets.  It gives them a calm place to contemplate and see the results of their effort.

The garden is accessible, with wide smooth pathways and plants that can easily be reached from a seated position.

Accessible Garden
Healing begins in the garden. Homeless men work in the garden providing fresh fruits and vegetables for guests eating at the Lighthouse Ministries shelter.

As a special treat, Lighthouse Ministries gave each of us a gift certificate to use in one of their retail Stores.  Their seven Thrift Stores provide clothing for their guests and household goods for their graduates.   Along with providing capital for funding programs, the Thrift Stores provide employment for program residents and a place for outreach to the community that includes the distribution of food boxes and clothing vouchers.

We visited two of the Lakeland, Florida retail stores.  They were both located in old buildings circa the 1930’s.  Employees graciously pointed out the side entry ramp to the furniture section, which was an old side street storefront.   This building is several old storefronts with different levels, an old warehouse, and a loading dock.  We entered from the furniture store section.  There were a few wide steps up from this section to the clothing and households area, located in the old storefronts that faced the main highway.  Several employees offered to escort us to the front accessible entry if we found the steps uncomfortable.  None of them ever mentioned that we might not be able to climb the stairs.  They all graciously mentioned how the steps were sometimes uncomfortable for them and offered an alternative.   We did not look at the restrooms, assuming that upgrading them for accessibility might be a hardship.

We were happy to learn that their staff is trained in Disabled Customer Service.  

We were also happy to learn that in their new facilities and in their older historical buildings, every reasonable effort was made for accessibility compliance.

Lighthouse Ministries knows the importance of including all people. Disability Smart Solutions is available to assist your business with overcoming architectural barriers and attitude barriers to accessibility.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

Bonus

I was thrilled to find new earings at a very low price.  Seven pairs  is not hoarding!  Tom bought a set of Italian ceramic pasta bowls. There were some very nice pieces of furniture, including an antique needlepoint child’s rocking chair.  As much as I wanted it,  we figured that it was best to leave the chair for someone with a child.  The Florida Summer afternoon thunderstorms also discouraged buying furniture, but we’ll be back!

Lighthouse Ministries Thrift Store
Swag from the Lighthouse Ministries gift store. Gracious staff, wide aisles, clean items, great prices and accessible; what more can a girl ask for?

Disability Smart Solutions, extends a HUGE thank you to Megan of More than A Coupon Queen, the event organizer.  Please visit her blog for the latest information on Florida Fun, Homeschooling,  Money Saving and Internet Deals.

The Disabled Hotel Guest in a Non-Accessible Room

The Disabled Guest in a Non-Accessible Hotel Room

Have you ever wondered what happens in a non-accessible guest room when a person with a wheelchair needs to use the toilet? Disabled hotel guests often have to create their own accommodations.  Is that something any responsible hotel operator wants at their facility?

Kristen, a LI Paraplegic born with Spina Bifida, created  Living Able on Facebook and YouTube to demonstrate how she transfers, does daily tasks and makes her own accommodations in a sometimes non-accommodating world.  She offers tips for people living with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities.

I believe that every facility owner should watch her videos in order to understand what they are doing to people living with disabilities by not providing enough accessible hotel rooms that meet the new 2010 ADA Code for accessibility.  Every hotel owner needs to demand that all request for an accessible room be honored.  Reservationists need to be trained to ask clients requesting an accessible room, what request they might have for a comfortable stay.   I am honored to share Kristen’s video.

Hotel Guest Transferring to Toilet in a Non-Accessible Room

In the video, Kristen’s wheelchair does not fit through the toilet room door.  There were no available accessible rooms in the hotel where she was staying during a business trip to Nashville.  She had to stay in a non-accessible hotel room.  Kristen is an independent woman who is used to making her own accommodations.  She uses the rolling desk chair from the business center to get into the bathroom and to transfer to the toilet.   There are no grab bars.  She has to hold onto the sink, the door, the door knob and the  wall to balance herself.  As I watched her video, I was holding my breath hoping that she didn’t fall.  Kristen is a young Living Able person, but what happens when an older or weaker person is in the same situation?

  • As a hotel owner, what liabilities are you exposing yourself to in this situation?
  • What happens if a disabled hotel guest falls?
  • What is stopping you from providing simple room accommodations to engage more aging guests and disabled hotel guests?

Find Kristen on Facebook and Living Able  

Please call us at Disability Smart Solutions to discuss reviewing your facility for ADA accessibility concerns.  We provide cost-effective action plans to get your facilities compliant that increase the customer loyalty.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

 

Disability Courtesy, 40 Tips

Disability etiquette or disability courtesy are just plain  good manners!

Customer service
Serve your customers well and they will serve you!

Disability etiquette, disability courtesy and just plain old good manners are the same thing!

 Many people think that there are special rules, so they avoid interacting with people with disabilities because of their own awkward feelings.

Disability courtesy is not a set of secret rules.   A great rule of thumb is, if you would politely say it to your granny, it’s OK.  Polite is polite.

Quick list of specific disability courtesy tips.

Courtesy Tips for Interactions with Anyone

 

  1. Always speak directly to a person who has a disability, rather than trough a companion who might be with them.
  2. Always ask first before helping someone with a disability.
    • Some people will appreciate that you asked, others might be offended.
    • Listen to any instructions before you act.
  3. Always remember to offer to shake hands.
    • Wait for them to extend a hand first or let them offer another option.  Be gentle.  we never know someone’s level of hidden physical pain or limited mobility.
  4. Be patient! Let the person set the pace in walking or talking.
    • Be considerate of any extra time it might take for the person who has a disability to get things done.
  5. Relax!  Don’t feel embarrassed if you happen to say a common expression like “I’ll see you later” or “I’ve got to run.”  Those are normal parts of speech.
  6. Don’t patronize!
  7. When planning an event involving persons with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time.
    • If there is an insurmountable barrier, let them know prior to the event.
    • For example, “Uncle Bob, the steps to the top of the hill where Kitty and Bobby are getting married are pretty steep. We are going to set up a video feed where, if you like,  you may watch the wedding in the air conditioned reception building.”

Courtesy Tips  for Interacting with Wheelchair Users

  1. Someone using a wheelchair is not “wheelchair bound.”  The wheelchair is a mobility device.  Different people have different levels of mobility.
  2. Leaning on a person’s wheelchair is like leaning on a person.  A wheelchair is an extension of personal space.    Respect it!
  3. Treat adults like adults.
  4. Don’t patronize someone by patting them on the head. They are not a dog!
  5. You wouldn’t grab someone’s leg without asking, so don’t touch someone’s wheelchair without first asking and receiving permission.
  6. After a few minutes of conversation, put yourself on the same level as a person in a wheelchair.  It will spare both of your from a stiff neck!
    • You won’t stand while holding a long conversation with someone seated, so think of it the same way when you are speaking to someone seated in a wheelchair.
  7. When giving directions to someone using a wheelchair, think ahead of the shortest path and any obstacles that might be in their way.
    • “I believe the park restrooms are about 200 yards ahead and they you will  to turn left for about 100 feet to reach the ramp on the right side of the restroom building.  I believe that there are steps to the left.”

Courtesy Tips for Interacting with People Who are Vision Impaired

  1.  Always identify yourself when speaking with a person with a vision impairment.
    • Example:  “Hi Bob, it’s Lola.”
  2. Always identify who you are with.
    • Example:   “Hi Bob, I have my son Bubba with me to my right, Aunt Hilda is to my left with her poodle Sweetie Pie.”
  3. When speaking in a group, always mention the person’s name when speaking directly to them.
    • Example:  “Bob, are you joining us on the balcony?”
  4. Always let the person with a vision impairment know when you are leaving the room.
    • Example:  “Bob, I am heading to the kitchen, can I bring you a glass of tea?”
  5. Always let the person with a vision impairment know when the conversation is over.
    • Example: “Bob, it was great talking with you, I need to leave now.  Is there anything else you need from me? “
  6. Always speak in a normal tone and volume. People do not hear with their eyes!
  7. Offer a person with vision impairment your arm.  Talk about where you are going.
    • Example: “We have 2 steps down about five feet ahead” or “this sidewalk sure has a lot of cracks.”
    • Do not propel or lead them.  Just gently be their guide.
  8. When giving directions to a person who has a visual impairment, use distances and describe the path.
    1. Example: ” The hot dog cart is 200 yards directly ahead on the right.  There sure are a lot of kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk today.”

Courtesy Tips for Interacting with People Who are  Hearing Impaired

  1. It’s OK to gently tap a person with a hearing impairment to get their attention.
  2. Do not startle someone by tapping them from behind.
  3. It’s OK to wave your hand to get a person with a hearing impairments attention.
  4. Never ask “do you read lips?”
  5. When speaking, look directly at a person who has a hearing disability.
  6. The average person reading lips will only understand about 25 percent of the conversation.  Follow-up with e-mail, when possible.
  7. If you have a friend, family member or co-worker who used American Sign Language, consider learning some basic sign language.
  8. Speak slowly (at a normal pace), clearly and expressively to determine if the person reads lips.  Many hearing impaired people have some level of hearing.  Sometimes hearing loss may affect they way they hear volume, certain letters, tones of sound or pitches of sound.
  9. Not everyone with hearing loss reads lips. They might rely on your expressions and your body language to understand the tone or direction of the conversation.
  10. Don’t shout!  It just makes you look crazy!
  11. Ask the person if they would like you to write down what you are saying.   Write clearly.
  12. Be considerate by facing a light source.  No one can read lips in the dark!
  13. If you are dining, keep food and drinks away from your mouth when you are speaking.
  14. Keep your mustaches well-trimmed, if you need to speak with a person with a hearing impairment.

Courtesy Tips for Communicating With People Who have a Speech Impairment

  1. Give  your whole, unhurried attention when speaking with someone who has a speech impairment or difficulty speaking.
  2. Keep your manner calm and encouraging rather than correcting.
  3. Be patient!  Do not speak for the person.
  4. It’s OK to clarify what the person said by asking a question they can answer with a simple nod of the head.
    • Example: “Oscar, you would like a  large glass of orange juice.  Is that right?”
  5. Never pretend to understand.  Always ask.  Repeat what you understand.
    •  Example: “Oscar, do you want to go to the store now or later this afternoon?”  The person’s reaction will guide you.

Common courtesy goes a long way when speaking with anyone.  Disability courtesy is simply treating people the way that you would want to be treated.  Remember that your body language, tone, facial expressions, hand and arm motions are all observed.  People know the difference between polite and rude! It’s important to remember that a person with a special need is a person first.   Communicate with them as you would communicate with anyone else.  If you are unsure what to do, simply ask them. Disability Smart Solutions knows that fixing buildings and public spaces to meet the everyday challenges of people living with a disability is simply meeting ADA Code and spending the money to make the improvements.  We know that lives are changed when people learn how to extend courtesy to people with disability. Disability Smart Solutions offers employee training programs that teach Disability Etiquette.  Great customer service is the heart of a business. We also have speakers available for schools and community groups.

We are team builders. Disability Smart Solutions has the knowledge, innovation, imagination and collaborative partners to create successful inclusive solutions. Please contact us to enhance your employee and customer engagement with both the aging and disabled populations.

 407-310-3663

Disability Smart Solutions for Your Business: ADA Inspection and Accessibility Surveys

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

 

 

100 Business Tips to Drive Disabled Consumer Loyalty

Drive Disabled Customer Loyalty By Serving Their Needs

Age-In_Place in your own home.With sales projections showing that 70% of all sales will be conducted online, disabled consumer loyalty is more important than ever before.  The senior 50+ and disabled market segments have tremendous spending power.  People don’t leave their homes just to buy a product.  They go to businesses to enjoy the experience.

At the beginning of the 21st century, those aged 65 or over made up five per cent of the population, in 20 years’ time, this proportion will rise to around 18 million, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Across the globe the number of those aged over 60 will nearly triple by 2050, rising to 2.4 billion, up from 894 million in 2010.

Even though the ADA,  Americans With Disabilities Act as the law for all business facilities, there are many other little things that can be done to increase the customer experience.  Happy customers tell their friends.  Unhappy customers post negative on-line reviews and don’t return.

As business people, we all know that it is harder to get a new customer off the street than it is to make your customer a repeat customer.  A disability-friendly business is a profitable business!

If a senior or disabled customer feels welcome, they will stay longer, spend more, and are more likely to become a repeat customer.

Do you know that less than 5% of disabled consumers use a wheel on a regular basis?

  • You cannot always tell just by looking at a person if they have a disability.

    See www.RollingRains.com for Wheelchair travel tips.
    See www.RollingRains.com for Wheelchair travel tips.
  • Customers with limited mobility, heart conditions, lung conditions and other medical conditions appreciate the use of a motorized shopping cart.
  • A comfortable shopping experience increases the time spent in your store and ultimately increases total sales.
Do you know that the combination of bad in-store customer service experiences and the ease of accessible websites for on-line shopping, an increasing number of senior and disabled consumers are spending their money from home?
  • People enjoy a friendly retail experience.  Shopping is not about products.  It’s about finding a solution and feeling good.  A disability friendly retail business will gain market share.

Customer Service Tips for Disabled and Senior Customers

WELCOME ALL GUESTS

  1. Speak directly to each customer and make eye contact.
  2. You rarely know who is living with a disability just by looking at them.  Many disabilities are invisible.
  3. Only 5% of the disabled population use a wheelchair on a regular basis.
  4. If a guest walks in and then uses the electronic cart, don’t judge them.  Heart conditions and many other conditions cause fatigue.
  5. A comfortable customer will shop longer and spend more.
  6. Disabled Consumers love to shop locally.
  7. Don’t per-judge.
  8. Not every disability is visible, nor is every disability as severe as it might appear.
  9. It’s OK to ask “Is there anything we can do to make your shopping  more convenient?”
  10. Offer specialized help to any customer who asks.
  11. No matter how minor the request, make sure your employees are aware that some requests are unusual.

    Wheelchair photo courtesy of www.rollingrains.com travel blog.
    Wheelchair photo courtesy of www.rollingrains.com travel blog.
  12. If a disabled customer makes an unusual request, as long as the request is safe for everyone,  politely fulfill it.
  13. Always ask first before automatically helping a disabled customer.
  14. Strive for positive feedback from your disabled customers.
  15. Staff should be alert and helpful to all customers.
  16. Train staff to understand the importance of treating all customers with the same amount of respect and courtesy.
  17. If a member of staff knows sign language, let the rest of the staff know.
  18. Train employees to speak directly to a hearing-impaired person, not to their companion. They should speak clearly, not loudly.
  19. Train employees to speak directly to any disabled customer, not to their companion.
  20. Offer disability awareness training to staff.
  21. Encourage persons with disabilities to work at your business
  22. When interviewing persons with disabilities, focus on the candidate’s skills and abilities, not the disability.
  23. Are policies, practices, and procedures flexible enough that, if necessary, modifications can be made to ensure that the skills and abilities of applicants with disabilities are equally represented?
  24. Know American Disabilities Act Employment Laws.

SERVICE DOGS

  1. Allowing service dogs is the LAW.

    Service Dog photo courtesy of www.rollingrains.com
    Service Dog photo courtesy of www.rollingrains.com
  2. Know which questions you may ask a person with a service dog.
  3. Always ask permission before petting service dogs.
  4. Always ask permission to offer a treat to the service dog.
  5. Always ask permission to offer the dog a bowl of water.
  6. Always let the Guest know where the dog can relieve itself.
  7. Provide a grassy area near the business entry for service dog relief.
  8. Provide plastic bags and waste disposal.
  9. It is illegal to question the disabled customer on the type of service dog.
  10. It is illegal to request seeing the service dog certification.
  11. You may only ask if the dog is a service dog and what service the dog performs.
  12. If a disabled consumer has a service dog with them, they need the dog.
  13. The only animals covered in ADA Law for Places of Accommodation are dogs and miniature  horses.  There are other guidelines for housing. (Fair Housing Act.)
  14. Many toy breed dogs are used as seizure and PTSD dogs.  You can’t judge a service dog by its breed.
  15. Don’t judge. Remember there are many hidden disabilities.
  16. As a business, you have the right to expect the service dog handler to control their service dogs behavior.

SAFETY FOR DISABLED CUSTOMERS

  1. Install flashing smoke and fire alarms to alert a deaf customer of emergency.

    Photo courtesey of www.rollingraines.com wheelchair travel advocate.
    Photo courtesy of www.rollingraines.com wheelchair travel advocate.
  2. Train staff to quickly and safely evacuate all people from the building.
  3. Do not block or lock exits.
  4. Have a safety and evacuation plan.
  5. Have an ADA Inspection of your business and correct all areas for ADA compliance.

 STORE ACCESS FOR DISABLED CONSUMERS

  1. Is the entrance to the business accessible to persons with mobility limitations?

    DssRAMP
    The landscape architects at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates worked with sculptor Martin Puryear to design this courtyard at the New School University. The courtyard includes a spiral ramp that provides wheelchair access to the terrace. Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
  2. Install an automatic door button or a door with sensors.
  3. Many  doors are  too heavy for consumers with limited hand strength.
  4. Always be ready to open the door and welcome a customer.
  5. Is the entry to the building on an even hard surface and without steps?
  6. Install a lift or ramp.
  7. Is the entry clean and free of clutter and debris?
  8. If the accessible entrance is not immediately apparent, are there directional signs?
  9. Are there handicapped parking signs and spaces with necessary access space for vans with lifts?
  10. Post a notice on the front door that assistance will be provided for customers with disabilities.
  11. Avoid thick rubber mats or carpeting which may prove to be a trip hazard.
  12. In cases where mats are required, tapered edges will make using a walker or cane safer. In addition, black-and-yellow CAUTION tape may be applied at the edges for higher visibility.

WINDOWS AND GLARE

  1. If large front windows face the morning or afternoon sun, provide light filtering shades to minimize glare.
  2. Glare can make it virtually impossible for a person with some visual impairment to move about safely.

CHECK-OUT AREA AND PROCEDURES FOR DISABLED CONSUMERS

  1. Provide at least one wheelchair-accessible checkout line with a lower counter to sign checks and receipts.
  2. Install tactile buttons at the checkout for customers with limited vision.DSSbrailephone
  3. Provide large fonts on the register screen.
  4. Install audible check out for hearing impaired customers.
  5. Provide a talking UPC bar code reader for hearing impaired consumers.
  6. Provide a handheld CCTV available for customer use in identifying merchandise and prices.
  7. Verify tactile dots on electronic signature screens.
  8. Keep paper and a pen at each register.
  9. When disabled customers use communication devices, ALWAYS be patient and wait for instructions.
  10. Give disabled consumers as much time as they need to check out. Be patient.
  11. If the store policy is for the customer to bag their own groceries, ask permission if the customer if they would like you to bag their groceries.
  12. Do not make any assumptions.
  13. Train staff to ask permission first before offering to assist disabled persons with lifting and carrying items out.

SIGNAGE FOR DISABLED CONSUMERS

  1. Post a notice on the front door that assistance will be provided for customers with disabilities.
  2. ADA Code is very specific about braille signage locations.
  3. Make sure to read the code before investing in braille signage.
  4. Use large easy to find aisle numbers and items signs.
  5. Locate common items  at end caps.

ACCESSIBLE RESTROOMS

  1. All businesses must provide accessible restrooms.
  2. Check the ADA Code. You might be surprised that if your restroom was built prior to 2010, it might be out of ADA compliance.
  3. Don’t clutter the restroom with furniture pieces, plant stands and decorative clutter.
  4. Don’t block access to the restroom.

PROVIDE SEATING AND AN AREA FOR REST

  1. Provide movable seating and accessible tables that accommodate wheelchairs.
  2. Provide benches or chairs for disabled customers to rest. Many customers shop in pairs.
  3. Always make sure that there is a comfortable place for the disabled customer’s companion so that the shopper stays longer and buys more.

AISLES AND MERCHANDISING FOR DISABLED CONSUMERS

  1. Make sure that aisles are wide and meet ADA Code.
  2. Freezer and cooler doors should stay open until manually closed.
  3. Make sure that nothing protrudes into pathways.

    Photo courtesey of www.rollingraines.com wheelchair travel advocate.
    Photo courtesy of www.rollingraines.com wheelchair travel advocate.
  4. Appropriately space displays of merchandise for wheelchairs to maneuver through.
  5. A cluttered store is an uncomfortable store.
  6. People buy more when merchandise is easy to see and reach.
  7. Having excessive merchandise does not mean that consumers are buying more.
  8. A comfortable shopping experience increases total sales per consumer.
  9. Avoiding leaving unattended stacks of inventory in the aisle. Keep aisle clutter free.
  10. If removal of a barrier is not “readily achievable,” are the goods, services, etc. made available through alternative methods? Use high-contrast colored flooring in traffic areas, such as aisle.
  11. Provide large changing rooms with seats and appropriate level clothes hooks for wheelchair access in clothing departments.  Many changing rooms do not meet ADA Code.
  12. Checkered tiles or patterns can help a person with visual impairments find their way through a dark or complex store.
  13. Use different color walls or patterned flooring to delineate different departments.
  14. Different textures of carpet and flooring for help with direction and wayfinding.
  15. Disabled Consumers love to shop locally.
  16. Add a note on your Facebook or Website welcoming “Customers with disabilities – contact us if you need any special assistance.
  17. Make the company’s Website user-friendly to visitors with disabilities.

Disability-friendly businesses understand the tremendous spending power of this consumer segment and do everything in their power to welcome disabled customers to their business. This list is just a beginning. Consider getting a detailed  ADA Inspection and Accessibility Survey with a detail report.  Always remember that if you treat the disabled community well, you will have customers for life.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

ADA Compliance
Improve the customer experience and everybody wins.

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Service for Disabled Consumers, 23 Excellent Tips

Customer Service for Disabled Consumers, 23 Excellent Tips

Disabled Consumers spend money
Customers don’t buy products. They buy solutions and good feelings.

Most business people believe they know the Golden Rules for customer service.  All too often,  employees and business owners are confused in how to provide appropriate customer service for senior and disabled consumers.  Instead of providing good service, they avoid the customer.  Has this ever happened at your business?

Most employers have an employee training program, yet they often forget to train employees specific rules for serving clients with different physical and mental capabilities.   Employees come from different background, cultures and experiences.   Managers can’t assume that they know how to properly handle all situations.  This is where ADA discrimination situations occur.

By implementing a Disability Etiquette training program in your business, you will ensure that all customers enjoy their experience and all employees feel confident in all situations.  Remember that customers are not in your business to buy a product. They are there to find a solution and feel good.    A happy customer is a customer for life.

Guess what?  Great customer service is the same for every customer!!!

  1. Know who YOU SERVE.   You serve the customer. You are not the boss.
  2. Make sure that your customer KNOWS YOU.
  3. GREET your customers at the door
  4. KNOW your customers.
  5. Everyone wants to feel important and APPRECIATED.
  6. Treat customers as INDIVIDUALS.
  7. SINCERITY matters.
  8. Do what you say you are going to DO.
  9. Make doing business with you EASY.
  10. If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say “yes.”  Appreciate the power of “YES.”
  11. Treat your EMPLOYEES well and they will treat your customers well.
  12. LISTEN to what your customers have to say.  Listen to their words, notice their tone of voice, observe their body language and find out how they FEEL.
  13. Don’t Assume.  ASK questions.
  14. TRAIN your employees to properly handle a complaint or irate person.
  15. Give customers the BENEFIT of the doubt.
  16. Know how to APOLOGIZE. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always WIN.
  17. DEAL with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done.
  18. Make sure that employees know what to do and say to make that customer’s experience a POSITIVE, pleasant one.
  19. VALUE Customers COMPLAINTS.
  20. Encourage and  WELCOME  SUGGESTIONS about how you could improve.
  21.  Employees are your INTERNAL CUSTOMERS.   They also need a regular dose of appreciation.
  22. GIVE more than expected.
  23. THANK people even when they don’t buy.
By now you have realized that great customer service for disabled consumers is great customer service for everyone!

We are team builders. We make businesses accessible for all.  We provide Disability Etiquette Training for Business.  Disability Smart Solutions has the knowledge, innovation, imagination and collaborative partners to create successful inclusive solutions.  Please contact us to enhance your employee and customer engagement with both the aging and disabled populations.

 407-310-3663

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

 

Universal Design, Tips for Aging In Place in Your Own Home

Senior Housing
Plan now for your future by incorporating Universal Design and Ageing-In-Place ideas into your home

How does Universal Design help people  Age-In- Place in their own home?

At the beginning of the 21st century, those aged 65 or over made up five per cent of the population, in 20 years’ time, this proportion will rise to around 18 million, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Across the globe the number of those aged over 60 will nearly triple by 2050, rising to 2.4 billion, up from 894 million in 2010.

Universal Design is the principle of designing spaces for maximum usability for  people living with disabilities, of varying size or limited mobility.  There are no specific codes for Universal Design.  There are suggestions. Universal design is not law, it is a way of viewing how things work in our world.  These design principles compensate for a reduced range of motion, reduced sight, reduced sound and reduced strength.  Many universal design inventions were originally developed for military use.

Universal design solutions make life easier for people  with mobility, agility, balance and coordination differences.   Successful universal design creates a barrier-free living environment.

Since no two individuals are alike, no code solves every situation.  Everyone needs to be their own advocate for their individual abilities and aging in place.  Homes must be designed for the individual user’s unique capabilities.  There is no “one size fits all” solution. Children grow and adults change.

Consider designing  your next home with the future in mind. When selecting a designer for a home where you intend to “Age-In-Place,” find one who listens to YOU.   There are many CAPS certified designers and builders, but not all of them are looking at the individual’s needs. Explore options and solutions.  Create a design that gives you maximum ability within the constraints of your budget.   Strive for safety.  When people feel safe in their home, they gain self-confidence and increase independence.

Design Smart Solutions, with over 30+ years in the architectural design industry,  knows that great design solutions are limitless.

What is the Difference between Universal Design and ADA, the American Disabilities Act?

The American Disabilities Act provides legal guidelines for designing public buildings and space that accommodate the disabled.  The guidelines are a minimum standard based on the general population.

Universal Kitchen DesignUniversal Design is not law.  It is a free-thinking way of creating design solutions to address individual challenges. Universal Design and Ease Of Use design decisions can ease the transition as we age or suffer from injuries affecting our mobility.

None of us want to admit that someday we will be old and our bodies will not be as quick, our eyes not as focused and our reflexes not as sharp.  The home we live in and our reaction to it will change.

Our homes will either enhance our ability to live by our own choices or force us to move.  By planning ahead during construction, with a few Universal Design tips, we can all extend the time we remain in our own homes.

Doors, Windows and Hallways, Universal Design Tips

  1. Have a covered outdoor entryway.
  2. Allow space for a future ramp.
  3. Minimize the front threshold.
  4. Make sure that there is at least one step-free entry into the home with easy access to the driveway
  5. Install 3′-0″ wide doors with lever door knobs throughout the house.
  6. Do not block doorways.
  7. Consider a 3′-0″ out-swinging or 6′-0″ sliding glass exterior door in a downstairs Accessible Guest Suite for easy emergency medical support access.
  8. Consider 3′-0″ pocketing doors or 6′-0″ bi-pass doors on closets.
  9. Make all Hallways a minimum of 5′-0″ wide and use the extra space for bookshelves, a computer desk, or display furniture until a time when you need the additional access space.
  10. Make sure that windows are easy to open and easy to lock.
  11. Install towel bars that are rated as pull bars.
  12. Install 48″ high robe hook and towel bars near the shower.
  13. Consider towel bars that are also grab bars.
  14. Install a shower curtain rod or create an open shower area.  Avoid tight glass shower enclosures.
  15. Create a shower without a step.
  16. Install a comfortable seat in the shower.
  17. Install soap and shampoo niches near the shower seat.
  18. Install a hand held shower that mounts on a slide bar.
  19. Consider installing a blow drying machine to dry your entire body.
  20. Check the size of a step in bath tub with the door that closes after you enter the tub.  Many people do not like having to sit in the tub while it fills and then again while it drains.
  21. Add an instant hot water heater by your bathroom.
  22. Install lever faucets at sinks with pull out sprayers.
  23. Consider a heat lamp if you chill easily.
  24. Consider radiant floors for heat
  25. Add a large linen closet with a 3′-0″ wide door in the bathroom for large towels and personal products.

First Floor Guest Suite, Universal Design

 

  1. If you sleep upstairs, design a first floor Guest Suite large enoughIMG_4274 for a full size bed, large chair and dresser with a minimum of 4′-0″ clear on all sides and 5′-0″ clear on the closet side, exit door side and direct access to a 3 foot wide pocketing  bathroom door.
  2. The bathroom with this suite should be accessible.
  3. The entrance to this bedroom should be easily accessible for medical personnel.

Bathrooms, Universal Design

  1. Have the Builder put wood bracing behind the drywall and tile in
    Aging In Place and Universal Design Solutions for Homes
    Aging In Place and Universal Design Solutions for Homes

    the bathroom walls for future grab bar locations.

  2. On the first floor, have a roll-in curbless  shower without a step or lip (slope floor to drain in at least one bathroom).
  3. This shower should be a minimum of 5′-0″ wide by 4′-0″ deep.
  4. This shower could be located near a Guest Suite or used as the Pool Bath.
  5. Consider multiple shower heads.
  6. Have a hand held shower head mounted on a slide bar, with a separate valve to control it from a seated position.
  7. Install lever faucets in this bathroom and an adjustable handheld shower head.  Do the closed fist test, by seeing if you can turn the water on and off with a closed fist.
  8. Provide a toilet in the same bathroom with a 3′-0″ clear empty space next to it for transferring.
  9. Install comfort level toilets.
  10. Install a bidet if you have space.
  11. Consider a water wand at the toilet if there is no room for a bidet.

 Floors, Steps and Stairs, Universal Design

  1. Select slip-resistant flooring that is comfortable.Solar Step Lights
  2. Limit stairs.  Design stairs wide enough to fit a future chair lift.
  3. Consider building a 5 x 5 closet on the first floor with a 5 x 5 closet above, for a future elevator.
  4. Minimize changes in floor level throughout the home and outdoor spaces.
  5. Anywhere that there is a step-down, select two different colors of flooring material.
  6. Minimize any step down to the garage.  Provide enough clear floor space for a future ramp.
  7. Make sure that there is adequate space in the garage to maneuver a wheelchair with an assistant around a parked vehicle.
  8. Add extra lighting to the Garage for maximum visibility.
  9. If you need to walk through a Laundry Room to access the garage, make sure that it is large enough for both a wheelchair to turn around in and clothes hampers on the floor.

Lighting and Electrical, Universal Design

  1. Automate Lighting Systems.DSSoutlets
  2. Maximize natural light.
  3. Locate extra security system and lighting controls in the rooms where you plan to spend most of your time.
  4. Install adequate lighting throughout the home for safety and visibility.
  5. Locate electrical service boxes, security boxes, main water disconnect valve and any system controls that you might need to access in an emergency, where they can be comfortably reached from a sitting position. 42″ to 48″ off of the floor.
  6. Make sure that the thermostat is not higher than 48″ off the floor.
  7. Make sure that electrical outlets are 18″ to 24″ off of the floor.
  8. Make sure that all switches are easy to reach from a seated position.
  9. Consider easy touch lighting and electrical switches.
  10. Install task lighting in all areas.
  11. Make sure that kitchen some electrical outlets can be reached from a seated position.
  12. install flood lights on all corners of the outside of the house.  Have them on timers.

Kitchen & Laundry, Universal Design

  1. Create work areas in the kitchen. Accessible Microwave Oven
  2. Install pull out racks and drawers in base cabinets.
  3. Keep everyday storage at waist level.
  4. Install dishwasher drawers.
  5. Add a 9″ high kick plate under a standard size dishwasher.
  6. Install a Microwave drawer.
  7. Add under counter safety lighting.
  8. Bring outlets to the front of the cabinets for easy reach.
  9. Leave a minimum of 48″ clearance between surfaces in kitchen aisles.
  10. Buy a front-loading washer and dryer set and mount them on a Accessible Laundry Roompedestal.
  11. Consider an adjustable height sink that raises and lowers at the push of a button.
  12. Consider an adjustable height range that raises and lowers at the push of a button.
  13. Buy a side by side refrigerator freezer.
  14. Provide a pull out shelf below a wall oven door
  15. Use “D” shape cabinet pull handles.
  16. Have multi-level countertops for different tasks.
  17. Use light colored countertops to make items easier to see.
  18. Use easy slide and close drawers.
  19. Use a 3′-0″ pocket door on the pantry.
  20. Mount wall ovens at a height where they can be reached from a seated position.
  21. Add an instant hot water faucet at the sink.
  22. Install a pull out flexible faucet at the kitchen sink and laundry sink.
  23. Select  lever faucets.
  24. Locate the faucets to the side of the sink for easier reach.
  25. Put lockable caster wheels on a kitchen island for flexible space.

We are team builders. Disability Smart Solutions has the knowledge, innovation, imagination and collaborative partners to create successful inclusive solutions. Please call us if you have any Universal Design questions, require assistance with universal design or would like us to speak about Universal Design and Aging In Place at your event. Please contact us to enhance your employee and customer engagement with both the aging and disabled populations.

 407-310-3663

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

ADA Consultant, Access Consultant, ADA inspections, Florida Accessibility Code Audits