Nearly 30 years after the initial passing of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), navigating public spaces is still a challenge for those living with a disability. DRI has worked with the Access Earth app in order to draw attention to local businesses that are and aren’t accessible and why. The app allows individuals to rate and review restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, parks, and more to check their accessibility.
What the app uncovered was while some establishments in Iowa are making a clear effort to become more accessible, others are sorely lacking.
Here are 10 things that public establishments in Iowa can do better in order to become #IAccessible.
Lower the counter and table heights.
Although they seem to be all the trend right now, having high countertops and tables for your restaurant or bar is in no way inclusive. For restaurant seating to be accessible, it needs to be between 28 and 34 inches and have a knee space of 30 inches wide and 27 inches high. This is the one time where raising the bar isn't a good thing.
An essential for all establishments, all entryways should be accessible. Step free access (a ramp) or lift access (don't lock the lift) should be in place, along with a accessible parking spaces and a ground level lobby and restroom.
Create and print Braille menus and information sheets.
Having a handful of Braille menus and information sheets on hand at your establishment will never be a bad idea. Additionally, having menus and information sheets printed in a large font will ensure that elderly individuals and those will sight issues will be able to navigate through their experience at your establishment.
All restrooms should be on the first floor, just for the convenience of all guests. Additionally, a accessible restroom stall should have two grab bars (one behind the toilet, one on the side), stall handles, a 5-foot by 5-foot area to move in, and a low sink. Without these things, a restroom isn’t truly accessible.
Ensure everyone can respond to an emergency signal.
An emergency signals must have flashing lights and audible signals to alert all consumers. Additionally, all permanent signs must have raised letters or Braille text. These two items allow those with a disability to feel safe, even during an emergency situation.
For parks, ensure there are ramps.
A ramp option should be in every level of a park, not just one or two. This allows all individuals to participate in all activities at the outdoor attraction. Additionally, if there are docks in the park, ensure that those are accessible.
For hotels, make an effort.
There are many items that a hotel needs to have in place to ensure that their rooms are accessible. These include, but are not limited to, having a low hanging space in a closet, ensuring that there is room to maneuver on each side of a bed, and having a roll in shower available. Without these items, those with mobility issues will not be granted a pleasurable or relaxing experience.
Always have an elevator on the first floor of an establishment.
If an elevator is in the establishment, ensure that it’s on the first floor. This eliminates the difficult journey from a flight of stairs to an elevator in order to get from Place A to Place B.
Train staff to understand their establishment’s accessibility options.
All members of a staff should be aware of the accessibility options in their place of work. Whether it be where the handicapped restroom is or where a party with a wheelchair user can sit, everyone on staff should be able to assist with these inquiries.
Nothing about us, without us.
It sounds like common sense, but it’s important to ask those actually living with a disability about what changes they would like to see from your business. This will ensure that the changes made will be useful and effective.