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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses provide space where people with disabilities can complete everyday activities. From handicap parking to sidewalk ramps, there are many provisions that businesses need to meet in order to be ADA compliant. Federal laws dictate ADA compliance for businesses, especially for business facilities are built after 1993. With that in mind, how can an office elevator help your business meet ADA requirements?

Here’s what for-profit and non-profit businesses should know about adding or updating commercial lifts so that your business space meets ADA requirements.

Why is it Important to Follow ADA Guidelines for Elevators?

At Rise Above Elevator, we help business owners create and maintain elevators and lifts. Unfortunately, it’s common to find business owners who are unaware that facility elevators do not meet ADA requirements.

If your building includes three or more stories, it’s essential to understand vertical accessibility guidelines set by the federal government. Constructing or renovating a public space or commercial facility comes with significant risks and penalties if not built to ADA standards.

There are also state and local accessibility laws to complicate things, which means that builders must follow additional accessibility requirements to comply with local laws. Since local regulations vary, we’ll focus on federal laws that your business must follow.

What Are the Most Important ADA Requirements for Elevators and Commercial Lifts?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) standards document explains the laws your business should follow. There are two sections in this document that outline elevator guidelines. These include Section 407: Accessible Routes and Section 206.2.3: Scoping Requirements.

However, there are some exemptions to the rules outlined in these chapters. For example, if your private building contains fewer than three floors, you will not need to provide a lift unless

you operate a shopping center or professional office. In addition, there are fewer requirements for existing elevators than there are for new construction or elevator alterations.

While the ADAAG standards feature hundreds of pages of federal accessibility law, we won’t cover every ADA guideline for elevators. Instead, we will summarize elevator standards based on questions we often receive from our clients. Here is what you should know about new elevator construction and alterations to existing elevators.

New Buildings with Several Stories Must Include One Passenger Lift

If your business does not qualify for an exemption, your building must provide at least one passenger elevator. Several design sizes and door placement types fit ADA requirements of giving enough space for an individual in a wheelchair to use. In addition, there needs to be enough space for someone in a wheelchair to enter, maneuver to use elevator controls, and exit the area. In some cases, a building’s service elevator will keep your business ADA compliant, but only if the elevator meets all design and accessibility guidelines. Since freight elevators often don’t provide a way to travel to all floors of a building, most will not meet ADA standards, in which case you’ll need an additional elevator in the business.

Button and Floor Accessibility for Wheelchair Users and Vision Impaired Passengers

In addition to size and placement requirements for elevators, button placement, button order, and floor designations have specific ADA requirements. Call buttons must be raised or flush with the wall and should have a diameter of at least three-quarter inches. There should be floor designations on both elevator jambs, making it easier for those with disabilities to determine which floor they’re exiting. Finally, a wheelchair user must have access to all elevator buttons. And these buttons must be in ascending order with Braille designations in a set space.

Verbal, Visual, and Timed Cues

Elevator performance is about more than simply being able to use a lift to switch floors. The ADA outlines several verbal and visual signs that help individuals have an easier time using elevators during regular use and in times of emergencies. For example, new elevators should provide verbal cues, in the form of a ding or an announcer, explaining when the elevator is available. There must also be additional cues defining the direction that the elevator’s traveling and announcing that it has arrived at the correct floor.

However, hard-of-hearing passengers also need visual cues to identify when a lift is available. Consider all the visual information you receive from a modern elevator whenever you use one, including its direction, the current floor it’s on, and whether it’s currently arriving on your floor. There are even designations on how the two-way communication device operates during emergencies and its placement from the floor for disabled individuals.

Additionally, elevators must operate to set timed cues. For example, when someone calls an elevator, it should stay open for at least three seconds to wait for individuals to enter and exit. Although business owners may feel like these specifications are a bit excessive, standardizing lift requirements helps everyone have a consistent and safe time while using elevators and lifts, regardless of the business entity.

How Can Your Business Meet ADA Commercial Lift Guidelines?

There are several ways that you can keep your building ADA compliant. Updating an existing elevator, purchasing, building a new elevator, providing destination-oriented elevators, or installing limited application (LULA) elevators are all options you can consider.

Installing an ADA-Compliant Elevator in Your Business

It’s essential to have someone on your team that can keep you aware of ADA requirements for your space. If you need to review your building plans and ensure that you’re meeting all ADA requirements, then Rise Above Elevator can help. As a family-owned and operated elevator manufacturer and installer with decades of experience, we’re here to help improve and protect your business.

At Rise Above Elevator, we offer commercial wheelchair accessible lifts and maintenance services for businesses of all sizes. Provide your customers with a comfortable and safe method of travel between floors of your building with a wheelchair-accessible elevator that’s wider and more convenient. If you lack the space or the ability to add ramps or other accessibility tools, an accessible elevator can be an ideal alternative. For questions, please contact us, or visit our ADA platform and stair lift guidelines page for more information on adding commercial lifts and wheelchair access to your space.