Dining Out? Make Sure You Can Get In!

Holiday shopping can work up an appetite, but is your favorite restaurant accessible?

The holidays bring out the masses each year; all seeking the perfect gift and it makes for a hungry bunch. But before you seek a meal be sure your favorite eatery is wheelchair accessible.

What features should you look for before your visit?

It is often difficult to know beforehand if a restaurant is accessible. Some questions to ask are:

– Is wheelchair-accessible parking located near the entrance?

– Are there steps at the entrance?

– Are all areas of the restaurant accessible?

– Are tables spaced in order to provide a path for a wheelchair?

– Are the restrooms accessible?

Several websites post the results of on-site restaurant-accessibility reviews. By visiting these sites, you may search for restaurants that have been reviewed and obtain their level of accessibility. Keep in mind that information regarding each facility is provided by any patron willing to submit a review and is only as good as the knowledge of the person posting the information.

Restaurant owners often perceive the expenses for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines exceed the benefits to their businesses and believe accessibility issues affect only a small percentage of their customers.

In reality, an estimated 20% of the population requires increased accessibility, and universal accessibility benefits everyone—not just people with disabilities.

A major goal of ADA is to give all people the opportunity to enjoy the same experience—in this case, dining. Restaurant owners must be aware that ADA compliance is a law and noncompliance may result in litigation and fines.

The components of restaurant accessibility fall into several categories.

(1) Access to the facility must be provided:

• Passenger drop-off and parking spaces must meet accessibility standards with respect to size and numbers of parking spaces.

• Ramps must be provided at the curb, and an accessible route at least 36 inches wide must lead to a level landing at the building’s entrance.

• The door must have a clear opening of at least 32 inches to allow for wheelchairs.

• If a vestibule is constructed, it should be sized for access to both sets of doors without “trapping” the person between the two doors.

• Wheelchair users must not only be able to access the restaurant but also exit, especially in case of an emergency.

(2) Inside the facility:

• An accessible route at least 36 inches wide must be provided in order to access the registration desk, dining tables and restrooms.

• It is important to consider diners seated at tables when allocating space for the accessible route.

• Movable objects, such as carts and equipment, must not block the accessible route.

• Accessible tables must be located throughout the space and not grouped in only one area.

 • A table height of 28–34 inches is necessary for adequate knee clearance. The type of table base is important for unobstructed access. (Pedestal-style tables are very accessible.)


For more information, contact PVA Architecture, www.pva.org.


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