Noncompliant ADA Facilities – Playground Access – How would you fix it?

Noncompliant curb ramp at a park

The other day I was visiting a community in Illinois for the day and met a local person  who was very excited about the new playground equipment being installed in his neighborhood. He encouraged me to check it out since he said it was the first time the community had upgraded the site since his children, who are now adults, had been little. So I took a walk to the park only to find unfortunately we are still not constructing ADA compliant facilities decades after laws and guidance have been in place to assist us in these efforts.

Noncompliant curb ramp at a park

I’ve included the photos I took of the site showing the designer seems to have intended to install two accessible points off the shared use path running adjacent to the playground (the skidsteer is parked on the path). As you can see in the photos, one ramp, in the photo directly above and below, has side slopes down to the ramp which are not compliant with the 10:1 slope. The other is a ramp, shown in the very first photo, which has side slopes leading down from the ramp at an angle which are much steeper than the 10:1 ratio. This ramp also seems to have a much steeper running slope than 12:1 slope at the very end for the last 6 to 12 inches. Each ramp as constructed has areas where a wheelchair could tip due to the steep slope.

Noncompliant curb ramp in the park

I first thought perhaps the designer was worried putting in the required 10:1 slopes (see image below showing standard) could cause the ramp to be moved over and conflict with a swingset. So I asked myself, how would I have designed it, and how would I fix this now? I like asking this when I see something I think is noncompliant because sometimes achieving compliance can be a real challenge – sometimes there is not always an easy solution. Understanding how others have approached design challenges helps me become a better designer.

Curb ramp side slopes from ADA Standard 2010
Curb ramp side slopes from 2010 ADA Standards

However, at this particular site, I believe there is a much better design that would be a lot safer and provide even more accessibility. Once I realized this, I wondered why the original designer had not just done it that way in the first place since it seemed a more obvious solution than what had been chosen. And while some of the completed work would have to rebuilt to incorporate my redesign, it would definitely be worth fixing it now before the project is finished if this will be in place for another 20+ years.

I was going to describe what I came up with, but rather than explain what I would have designed, I was curious, what would be your fix?




Social Media Tools for Construction Geeks

If you have an iphone, download AudioBoo for free – now! – particularly if you work in any construction-related field. This handy tool allows for the ability to combine an IM, a photo, a location map, and a 3-minute audio blurb in one upload. This upload can then be found on the AudioBoo Website for anyone’s viewing pleasure. But even better, it can also automatically get pushed out to your Twitter and/or Facebook feed.

So next time you see something particularly interesting out on construction, use AudioBoo on your iphone to share with the rest of us! Here is one I did today – it was also automatically sent to my Twitter feed and my Facebook wall. (Click the link to see the full post.)

Lack of Expansion Material Causes Concrete Failure



Visualizing the ADA in 3-D

Tired of trying to get a curb ramp built that meets the ADA? Instead of photos of your kids are you carrying around pictures of a compliant curb ramp to show the contractor? Join the club – ever since the curb ramp section of the ADA was finalized, sidewalk design and construction have never been the same. The basic concept is simple; the need is imperative. However, getting it to all fit existing conditions and educating the contractor about the requirements have been the stumbling blocks.

This is why the Public Works Resource Center in Second Life has started a project to develop 3-D visualizations of the design solutions presented in the following Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations, developed by PROWAAC. Perhaps seeing the designs in 3-D in a virtual environment can enhance the understanding of these regulations.

3-D Visualization of the Design Solution 1.01 in the PROWAAC Report
3-D Visualization of the Design Solution 1.01 in the PROWAAC Report

Some other ideas for using virtual worlds to increase understanding of the ADA requirements are:

  • Creating a virtual build of the existing conditions to try out different ideas. If this was built in a community area, others could come by and offer input and help working with a method similar to that of the Wikitecture project.
  • For training purposes, educators could build sample intersections and have students place pre-made components to show their understanding of the regulations.
  • For now, as each 3-D build becomes available, it will be added to a design solution libraries at the Public Works Resource Center in Second Life.