ADA Site Design Element Examples

What Site Design Elements are impacted by the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?


The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design create minimum standards for a wide array of building and site features.

When I begin a site investigation, I think about the ways that a person might arrive at the site. Did they arrive by car, mass transportation or did they walk or travel by a mobility device? Here are some examples of some of things to check for:

Arrival by car or van:

  • Are there an adequate number of accessible parking spaces?
  • Are the accessible spaces close to the building entrance?
  • Are the spaces fairly level in both directions?
  • Are the spaces adjacent to a proper access aisle?
  • Are the spaces properly identified by signs and pavement markings?
  • Do the access aisles connect with an accessible route to the building entrance? (See considerations for approach from an adjacent property or transportation stop).

Approach the site from an adjacent property or bus stop:

  • Are there proper curb ramps to get to the sidewalk from the pavement?
  • Are the walkways wide enough?
  • Are the walkways sloped properly?
    • In the direction of travel
      • Is the path too steep to meet the definition of a walk? Is it a ramp?
    • Perpendicular to the direction of travel
  • Are there excessive changes in level?
    • Steps
    • Heaved, cracked or settled slabs
    • Lips at ramps and/or doorways
  • Are all required curb ramps constructed properly?
    • Proper ramp width
    • Proper ramp slope
    • Proper side slope
    • Proper landing
      • Size
      • Slope
    • Detectable warning surface, if required

Some Problems I’ve found with Site Design Elements:

Parking Spaces:

No Access Aisle:
ADA Parking space without access aisle

There is no access aisle for this accessible parking space

Excessive Cross Slope:
Excessive Cross Slope in ADA Parking

An Example of Excessive Cross Slope in an Accessible Parking Space

Ramps Protruding into Access Aisle:
ADA Ramp in access aisle

This ramp protrudes into the access aisle for the accessible parking space


Curb Ramps:

Steep side slopes:
Curb ramp with steep side slopes

This curb ramp has side slopes which are too steep

Lip at base of Ramp:

Curb ramp with big lip


Excessive cross slope and change of level:
Sidewalk with excessive cross slope

This section of sidewalk has both an excessive cross slope and abrupt change of level

The examples provided above are just a portion of the site elements for which ADA standards have been developed. I recommend the following resource provided by the New England ADA Center – ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities as an aid for inspecting your facility to determine if you comply with the requirements of the ADA.

The information provided in this article is based upon my review of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The 2010 Accessibility Guidelines, the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III Regulations.  And the Title III Technical Assistance Manual. It describes what I have found to be the most common issues encountered during my ADA investigations. For a more complete review of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) please refer to the law, regulations and standards referenced, herein.

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