Problem Solver - August 2011
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Improve Accessibility at Your Site

There are many ways you can improve accessibility at your parks. Nearly every site component can be improved or altered to make it more easily used by patrons in wheelchairs and with other disabilities. Finding ADA-accessible products, though, can be a challenge if you don't know how to look.

Q: Many picnic table brands claim to be "wheelchair accessible," but how do we know if they are really compliant with ADA guidelines?

A: On the first read, the ADA guidelines for wheelchair access to a picnic table can be confusing. The guidelines spell out the measurements for a three-dimensional space under the tabletop. They read as follows:

Wheelchair spaces shall provide knee space at least 27 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 19 inches deep. Toe clearance 9 inches high minimum shall extend an additional 5 inches minimum from the knee clearance. Toe clearance shall be 30 inches wide minimum.

No wonder people are confused. It's hard to envision a space in your mind and keep all the measurements straight with a tape measure.

You can find tables that have been proven to be accessible. One manufacturer uses an ADA Clearance Box designed to these exact dimensions. If the box fits underneath a picnic tabletop, the table is ADA-compliant.

The box doesn't fit under all brands of tables. Many manufacturers offer a tabletop extended one foot at each end and call it "wheelchair accessible." But unless the table offers enough knee and toe clearance, that style of table is not ADA-compliant.


R.J. Thomas Mfg. Co. Inc.: