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        July 2020 - Volume 7, Issue 3      
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

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On July 26th, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) officially turns 30. This anniversary provides a great opportunity to reflect on how this landmark legislation has changed the face of design and how it continues to promote equal access for people with disabilities. SWA’s Accessibility Team will be celebrating this important milestone throughout the month, while also looking at what lies ahead for accessible design. Here are just a few ways you can celebrate:

  • Follow us on Twitter for #ADA30 updates (@_SWinter). Throughout the month of July, we will be tweeting out relevant information and insider tips on ADA compliance from our Accessibility consultants.
  • Learn something new. Take the time to educate yourself on the ADA and its history by seeking out articles, watching a documentary, or taking a training or two. Here are a few of our favorite resources:
    • Accessibility Online: The ADA National Network and the US Access Board’s free online training archive. You’ll find practically anything and everything you need to know about the ADA.
    • US Access Board Animations: Having some trouble visualizing the reasons behind the ADA requirements? The US Access Board created some helpful animations to help designers understand everything from door clearances to toilet rooms.
    • NY Times Disability Column: This recurring column in the NY Times Opinion section provides a range of perspectives from people with disabilities.
    • Crip Camp: A fascinating documentary chronicling the journey of a group of disability rights advocates from their time at a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities through their efforts to move disability rights legislation, including Section 504 and the ADA, forward.
    • Podcasts: Hear about the history of Curb Ramps and Braille in these podcast episodes from 99% Invisible, learn about the connection between Accessibility and Health from the USGBC, and check out the accessibility related topics we have discussed on our own podcast – Buildings and Beyond.

Whether it’s keeping family posted, getting work done, or streaming music or videos to help the time pass, the ability to stay connected and charged can relieve some of the stress that often comes with hospital visits. As healthcare providers acknowledge the benefits of providing charging areas, our consultants have encountered several common design strategies used to incorporate outlets into waiting rooms. They can come in the form of standard power outlets with integrated USB ports, designated phone charging stations with cables to support various devices, and seating with built-in charging outlets. When adding these features to your design, it is important to remember that a charging station is an amenity that must be accessible for all visitors. If the battery is low on your cell phone or laptop, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not you can access the outlets.

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As the country continues to confront the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we design spaces is changing. We must be mindful, however, of the way these changes affect how we navigate the built environment. Solutions like automatic doors, when installed with proper planning, have the potential to positively impact public health and safety while also providing greater access to a person with a disability. While automatic doors have always been a good option when it comes to accessibility, hygiene concerns associated with the spread of disease have presented another argument for their use. The rise of touchless technology as a result of this pandemic will increase the use of automatic doors not just for accessibility or convenience, but for public health as well. For anyone considering incorporating automatic doors into their designs, either for new construction or as a retrofit, there are some important things to consider.

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On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

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