Re-designing your current 911 dispatch center or designing a new comm center can be challenging. On top of the aesthetic and ergonomic planning — what we like to call the fun stuff — you’re also going to need to take Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and building codes into account. These can seem complicated at first, but don’t get discouraged! We recommend hiring a professional designer who can help you along the way. Professional designers know all about ADA requirements, clearances and other building codes you need to plan for so you don’t end up with costly changes or a lawsuit down the road.
What is ADA?
ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act, a piece of legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990 that prohibits discrimination based on disability. For example, if one of your comm center employees gets into an accident and needs a wheelchair, you must ensure that he or she can easily access and navigate the workplace. If your comm center is on a raised floor that does not have a ramp, then it is required by law that you accommodate the disabled employee by adding one, so they can still get to work.
Useful Facts About ADA
- Employers who provide accommodations for disabled employees may receive a federal tax credit and/or deduction.
- Employers are required to provide appropriate accommodations when an employee declares a disability. And employees can declare a disability at any time.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in all services, programs and activities provided by state and local government agencies. This includes activities carried out by anyone who contracts with state and local governments.
- Government agencies are required to make reasonable accommodations at a program, service or activity when requested by an individual with a disability, unless the agency can prove that providing reasonable accommodation would change the basic nature of these events.
- For more information, check out this fact sheet from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
What Do ADA Requirements Include?
ADA requirements affect multiple aspects of a facility, including door clearances, aisle size, turn-around space, reachable distance while sitting, and more. The amount of space that is required may be shocking at first — a space that you thought could hold 12 consoles may only fit nine when you consider ADA requirements. A professional designer will be able to walk you through this process and come up with the most efficient use of your space while still adhering to the ADA requirements.
Here are a few diagrams to help you get a sense of the amount of space ADA clearances will take up:
Many 911 dispatch center managers like a raised supervisor’s platform so they can have a better view of their comm center. But to be ADA compliant, you’ll also need a ramp to the platform to accommodate wheelchair-bound employees. Many managers don’t consider the extra cost (and space) of adding a ramp. For every vertical inch of the platform, a ramp will need 12 inches of a horizontal run. For example, a 6-inch raised platform will need a 6-foot ramp that’s wide enough for aisle clearance and railings that are approximately 48 inches by 60 inches wide. But that’s not all! At the bottom and top of the ramp there needs to be a 60-inch turn around radius (see below diagram).
Now you can imagine how much space will really be needed to add a raised platform in your comm center. Is a 6-inch platform really what you need? Or would you prefer a couple more dispatch consoles instead? These are the types of questions that your professional designer will walk you through so you can make the best decision for accommodating all employees in your comm center.
For more information on the ADA, check out these links:
- ADA Myths and Facts
- ADA General information
- Top 5 Misconceptions About Title III of the ADA
- Avoiding ADA Lawsuits
- ADA Website