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The Importance of Keeping Access Clear and Safe

Chief mounts, who deal in access quite frequently, reviews some important ADA guidelines to make spaces better and safer for everyone.

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The Importance of Keeping Access Clear and Safe

A few years ago, I stayed at an AirBNB in Boston’s north end. It was a furnished basement with ceilings that barely cleared my 6-foot, 2-inch height. The problem was there were doorframes and portions of the ceiling that dipped down another six inches.  

When I was wearing a baseball hat that restricted my vision of object slightly above my head, it was inevitable that I would bonk my head hard enough to see stars. Old spaces like that would not meet today’s building codes by a long shot.

When adding AV equipment to spaces, integrators must consider the potential dangers presented by protruding objects.

How many times have you accidentally struck or been struck by an object protruding from a wall? Maybe it was when you were texting while walking?

Protruding objects that interfere with people moving freely around classrooms, halls, and any usable space are a big focus for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Such objects can be mounted on floors, walls, or ceilings.

A protruding object can restrict the passage of people in wheelchairs and seriously injure a sight-impaired person passing by. These are risks that need to be mitigated before anyone enters a space.

Wall-Mounted Monitors

“Under the ADA guidelines, wall-mounted displays can’t protrude more than 4 inches from the wall, including their mounting hardware,” said Kathryn Gaskell, who manages Chief’s product management team for Legrand AV.

“We believe that the sweet spot for such protruding mounts is 2 inches depth or less—a goal that can be achieved using thin displays, and when needed, some form of in-wall box to store equipment.”

Other Mounting Limits

This isn’t all you need to know to comply with ADA Sections 204 and 307: Anything you mount on the wall or a post should be no lower than 27 inches off the floor, and no higher than 80 inches tall.

The 27-inch lower limit is particularly important, because it reduces the chances of tripping by protruding obstacles.

Other limits are as follows:

Free-standing objects mounted on posts or pylons should be no wider than 12 inches, no lower than 27 inches, and no taller than 80 inches.

Any objects suspended between posts/pylons that are more than 12 inches apart must also be no lower than 27 inches and no more than 80 inches in height.

If you are mounting something over the users’ heads, it must be at least 80 inches high to provide adequate vertical clearance for people moving underneath.

Fixing Protrusion Problems

What is an installer to do if the space has protrusions that violate the ADA guidelines? “In many cases, you can mitigate the situation by adding storage or millwork under the protruding object to bring the surrounding wall surfaces outward,” said Gaskell.

“The depth of the protrusion can be reduced to 4 inches or less.” If the protruding object sticks out 6 inches, pushing out the wall 2 inches or more brings the net protrusion into ADA guidelines compliance.

Alternatively, placing a credenza with equipment mounting capabilities beneath the protruding object can be a practical way of fulfilling this requirement.

“This approach can be simpler but still highly accessible, allowing people to interact with the flat panel,” said Megan Knedler, director, marketing, Chief.

Visit Chief’s website for more information