In the world of construction, keeping accessibility in mind during construction is crucial. Even before the Americans with Disabilities Act, easily accessible buildings make everyone’s life easier. Roomy buildings, wide walkways, working elevators, and accessible medical equipment will all make taking care of your health more bearable.
ADA requires that medical settings provide equal access to their buildings and equipment no matter a person’s mobility. Healthcare facilities need to be easily navigated by those with wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, or even if they have no mobility devices at all. In this blog, we will discuss ways to ensure your facility is accessible.
One of the easiest implementations to help accessibility in your building is proper signage. Handicap signs, clear directions to different departments, and signs with brail can help bridge the gap in accessibility for disabled patients. Proper signage may not be a major part of the construction of the building, but it is a major final touch that will ensure your building meets ADA standards.
Wheelchair Accessible Areas
Proper turning space and the absence of physical barriers are other ways to improve healthcare facility accessibility. Wheelchair-accessible rooms are important for a space that provides care to all different patients. Bathrooms and exam rooms should be easily accessible by wheelchair users.
During construction planning be sure to avoid narrow doorways, narrow hallways, tight turns, and too many stairs. Where stairs are needed, make sure a ramp or elevator is also an option to reach this area of your facility.
In addition to things you should avoid here are some items your healthcare facility should include:
- Wide bathroom stalls
- Braille materials
- Doors with lever pulls
- Handicapped marked parking spaces
- Wheelchair ramps
- Adjustable exam tables or lower reception desks
- Truncated domes and warning pavers
- Automatic door openers
- Accessible sinks
Turning Space Inside Exam Rooms
Similar to the rest of your building, making larger exam rooms will make proper healthcare accessible to all. Wide doorways and proper turning spaces inside exam rooms are crucial to making all patients feel comfortable. Even those without physical disabilities will feel more comfortable in an open room. Cramped spaces can elevate anxiety for patients visiting a doctor’s office. Including a more open-concept layout during construction will aid in accessibility for many patients.
Most modern buildings have multiple elevators to help all people get to higher floors. With less available real estate and more buildings being built, buildings are rising higher instead of wider. Elevators that are properly maintained will help people access every part of your healthcare facility. During the pre-construction phase, plan the location of elevators where you think they will be the most helpful.
When an elevator is not working properly, it will need to be remedied as quickly as possible to fit ADA requirements. ADA states that reasonable modifications should be made to facilities quickly if they are not overly expensive or extensive.
“Under Title III, existing facilities are required to remove architectural barriers where such removal is readily achievable. Barrier removal is readily achievable when it is easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.”
Updating Older Medical Facilities
Title III also applies to updating older medical facilities. If the building was built before the enactment of the ADA or was not constructed with accessibility in mind, it needs to be updated. Removing barriers, protruding objects, and installing ramps are all minor updates that can make a world of difference.
Conduct An Accessibility Audit
If you are not sure whether your building is accessible, an accessibility audit or inspection can help you find areas that are lacking. During an audit, professionals will look at the exterior and interior for items previously mentioned in this blog.
Toilets, lifts, ramps, parking, corridors, and your main entrance will all be inspected and measured to ensure your healthcare facility meets standards. Doing an accessibility audit before opening will give you peace of mind before welcoming people into your space.
Making Medical Equipment Accessible
After initial construction, making the smaller components accessible is the next step in completing a healthcare facility. Here are some medical equipment examples that can be made more accessible for disabled patients.
- Adjustable exam tables
- Portable Floor lifts
- Overhead track lifts
- Shorter or adjustable mammogram equipment
- Medical devices that can be used easily by individuals
- Voice-guided instruction and navigation
- Color contrast or larger font
Buildings From EK Bailey Construction
EK Bailey has been constructing commercial buildings for many years. Our professionals are the go-to team in Utah for restaurants, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, and retail shopping centers. We are the most experienced construction team that strives to create a relationship with our customers while providing clear communication throughout all phases of construction. Reach out to us to get started with your project today!