Common misconceptions that don't really pertain to the question. December 3, 2010 6:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm going bananas reading some of the answers in this post.

They're all in good faith and the OP has found her solution. My problem? The core functionality of my job is to design ramps (and bathrooms, and lots of things accessibility related), and to do ADA inspections, etc. Unfortunately, for a 25 year old civil rights law, general ADA knowledge by the general public is pretty, well, limited.

So I don't want to derail the post or write a response nobody will read, but I REALLY can't just let some of the things said in that thread go. (Example, the comment about historical registries, it's like the most common mistake made in terms of compliance.)

So I guess I'm asking, would there be any interest in my doing a big FPP on the state of accessibility law in the US? I intended to write one when I returned from DC this summer when the new standards were adopted, but I missed out on MeFi for several weeks and kind of assumed someone else had done it.

Or should I stuff it? Or should I respond in the thread?
posted by TomMelee to Etiquette/Policy at 6:29 PM (32 comments total)

The OP is not anonymous, send her a note. I think accessiblity law is pretty interesting, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea and won't be that great if you're still hopped up being annoyed at an AskMe thread. If you want to correct some misconceptions and answer the OPs question, go ahead but if you're just going to show up and tell other people they're wrong and not answer the question, that would be not so great, though probably possible with the right amount of tact.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


When faced with wrong answers, the best thing to do is write a better one. Go ahead and lay out your credentials, with supporting links, if possible, and explain your professional assessment of the situation. I certainly don't think it would be a derail to explain exactly why certain answers in the thread are incorrect, if you do it with some dignity. That is really the most you can do. Getting the mods to delete answers based on "wrongness" would be setting a crazy precedent, and be an impossible workload in any case.

As someone who has also worked on ADA-related projects on historic buildings, I had to chuckle at some of those answers too, but the only way to combat ignorance is with knowledge, so go ahead and drop some knowledge! I'd love to see an FPP on accessibility law, but I was once in the field, so I may be biased.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


So I don't want to derail the post or write a response nobody will read...

An answer to the question isn't a derail and would presumably be read by at least one person (the poster).
posted by DU at 7:14 PM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Do your FPP on ADA law. Don't mention that Askme. Keep a neutral tone. Keep it to a shortish list of "top five ADA myths" or similar. I'd be interested.

I know there are people around these parts who do ADA compliance for websites too, so that's another constituency that might be interested in such a post.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:32 PM on December 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


(And/or answer in a brief and just-the-facts way in the Askme. But I think she's gotten the picture that ramps need to be a lot shallower and longer than one might think, so you can keep your tone light.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2010


In no way do I mean to be snarky but I suggest that if you have a better answer to the question, you answer it.

I understand it is frustrating for you, but you can probably make that feeling go away by ignoring the offending answers and providing a correct one.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:51 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not really annoyed so much, the reason I thought it might be a derail is because the original question has nothing to do with accessibility, it's a question about building a ramp, and for her purposes she has an answer. I feel like Velma chasing down the Mystery Mobile with a sheaf of papers screaming "Wait up guys!"

I don't have any one-upness desires, it's just something near and dear to my heart.
posted by TomMelee at 7:51 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


She wants to build a ramp. You know a lot about building ramps and can give advice on building one. Just because the OP has responded positively to suggestions doesn't mean that the thread should be considered closed.
posted by desuetude at 8:13 PM on December 3, 2010


Tom, you know the answer to her question. So, you know, answer it.

Write your answer as if you were the first person answering it, and don't even worry about the wrong answers.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:18 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would be interested in both the answer to the question and a post about the ADA and such. Follow the excellent advice here about not being too grumpy, and everyone will walk away knowing more.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:33 PM on December 3, 2010


Yeah, as a new wheelchair user I am interested in the ramp question (and I live in a historic district, too.) I would like to see a less confusing more better answer!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:15 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, please answer it. AskMe only works when people contribute.

As far as the larger topic of ADA compliance and accessibility law, I think it definitely merits its own FPP if you have a good way to frame it. My own experience with the vast, and ever-widening gulf between what's required for new construction, and what can be "grandfathered in" tells me that there's a lot of meat there, but I don't have much to say on the matter except for GRAARRR.
posted by Anoplura at 11:36 PM on December 3, 2010


I'd read such a FPP.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:29 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks Tom.

I learned that what I wanted was more complicated than I thought, but yes - please add/clarify for posterity.
posted by k8t at 12:32 AM on December 4, 2010


An ADA/accessibility FPP would be really interesting, but in terms of the actual question let's not lose sight of the fact that it was about a dog, and the ADA is totally irrelevant to canine issues.
posted by dersins at 1:15 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


That dog is an American with a disability.
posted by amethysts at 1:18 AM on December 4, 2010


"Write your answer as if you were the first person answering it, and don't even worry about the wrong answers." So, now I'm supposed to ignore EVERY comment in those relationship posts??? This is gonna save a shitload of time!
posted by HuronBob at 3:10 AM on December 4, 2010


The dog is a lab. A Canadian with a disability?
posted by k8t at 4:44 AM on December 4, 2010


I'd love to see a post about accessibility laws and methods. What did they do for people in wheelchairs a hundred years ago? How did FDR get around the White House? How do you deal now with accessibility requirements vs. historical structures and natural monuments? What are some very cool adaptations that have been made to make structures accessible?
posted by pracowity at 4:53 AM on December 4, 2010


Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but doesn't the ADA have to do with access to public places? Am I really required to make my private home accessible? Didn't think so.

I get that living in a historic district may make some modifications subject to review. Are people saying that ADA requirements for public access trump historic district rules? That makes sense.
posted by fixedgear at 4:55 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know someone who lives in a historic district and was looking at putting in a ramp. She had to get planning permission to put in the ramp, which meant she had to make it ADA compliant no matter how she planned to use it. She went ahead and hired the architect who helped with her historic home remodel to draw up plans for the ramp, to make sure it would be safe, ADA compliant, and still work okay with the feel of the historic district.

THEN she had to get permission from the historic district, which should have been a piece of cake because her architect, who designed the ramp, was ON the historic district board. But it took over six months to even get a response from them, at which point the response was "we need more information." THE ARCHITECT WHO DID THE DESIGN WAS *ON* THE BOARD.

She eventually gave up on putting in the ramp and is just moving to a house that's better designed for handicap access anyway, so I don't know how much more of a hassle it would have been to finally get the design approved.
posted by galadriel at 6:17 AM on December 4, 2010


I REALLY can't just let some of the things said in that thread go. (Example, the comment about historical registries, it's like the most common mistake made in terms of compliance.)

I guess that was my comment. I'm not sure what the "mistake" is, however. I found this in the ADAAG which appears relevant. I suppose the mistake is failure to consider historical preservation law and regulations when implementing accessibility modifications?
posted by exogenous at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hehe, yea, looks like there's a lot of merit for an FPP. No intention of GRAR, shouldn't be an issue.

And fixedgear, no, not generally, private residences are not generally bound by the ADA. However, they are generally bound by building code, and the ADA has been integrated into the IBC since the late 90's.

And yes, accessibility requirements (generally) trump historical rules. The ONLY historical district rules that can override ADA regs are National Register of Historical Places (Federal designation), and even then they must make a "reasonable" attempt to comply. Local jurisdictions, neighborhood associations, etc, have absolutely zero authority to either deny the installation of a ramp on private property or to declare that they don't have to comply on non-federal, public land. This is actually a really fun bit of absolute legal clarity that is only enforced through civil litigation and fines from the DOJ, but it's a slam dunk in every single case.

And galadriel---there are those of us who make these fights for a living, although most folks don't know that such advocates exist. She should have hired a lawyer,and the historic distric board would have wound up buying her ramp and making her home modifications for her.

If someone wants to close this up, feel free. I don't intend to turn it into super fun question session. I'll work on the FPP next week, just a matter of gathering all the right links.
posted by TomMelee at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is actually a really fun bit of absolute legal clarity that is only enforced through civil litigation and fines from the DOJ, but it's a slam dunk in every single case.

Interesting - I look forward to your post.
posted by exogenous at 7:54 AM on December 4, 2010


> So I guess I'm asking, would there be any interest in my doing a big FPP on the state of accessibility law in the US?

I'd read it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2010


I think it's a fascinating subject but I don't think it's a good post for MetaFilter. "The state of accessibility law in the US" is not "something cool on the web".

But I hope you will add a detailed and definitive answer to the question, for the benefit of future Askers and Googlers.
posted by nicwolff at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2010


dersins i writes "An ADA/accessibility FPP would be really interesting, but in terms of the actual question let's not lose sight of the fact that it was about a dog, and the ADA is totally irrelevant to canine issues."

Holy hand grenade this. While shallow ramps also help anyone with trouble navigating stairs the extremely shallow slope mandated by ADA rules is because of the need for them to be safely use able by wheelchair users. A healthy human can handle a much steeper slope. For example a typical tractor trailer has a deck height around 48" and will be accessed by people doing deliveries with a ramp 12-16 feet long (IE a 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 slope) and that is while wheeling a two wheel cart with a couple hundred pounds on it. I have no numbers to back it up but in my limited experience a healthy dog can handle a 1:2 slope and even dogs with mobility problems can handle way more than 1:20.

Also no one has yet suggested a circular ramp for the dog. Because the headroom requirements are so much less than with a human it might be possible. For example a circular ramp with centerline diameter of 7.5' would have a length of 24 feet every 360 degrees. At 1:12 you'd have a 24" separation (and height gain per loop), adequate for a medium size dog (like say Mika) with a shoulder height of 21". However a ramp with a 24" width would be close to 10' wide; 18" could get that down to 9'. A wider loop would take more space but require fewer loops. A steeper slope would gain more height with each loop. You could fit 24" of head room into a 4' centerline loop if you went to a 1 in 6 slope.

How that would fly with their historical district I have no idea. That may be the advantage to an ADA ramp if the Historical District is required to allow their construction even if their isn't a wheelchair resident.

LobsterMitten writes "But I think she's gotten the picture that ramps need to be a lot shallower and longer than one might think, so you can keep your tone light."

Which might be the wrong impression as she is contemplating this ramp for a disabled dog not a wheelchair user.
posted by Mitheral at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2010


Well, in general I think people who don't use ramps often (most of us) don't realize that they need to be pretty shallow to be comfortable and safe. They don't have to be ADA shallow, but more shallow than the average person might guess in the abstract. I think the point stands that it would be hard to put a ramp up those stairs that will work for a stroller unless she has a lot of space to work with for long runs or switchbacks.

I have no idea what's a safe slope for an old dog. I was thinking more about the stroller, and thinking about the kind of very steep ramp you'd get if you tried to go straight up those steps - and man, I would not want to handle a stroller up and down a super steep ramp like that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:03 PM on December 4, 2010


Which might be the wrong impression as she is contemplating this ramp for a disabled dog not a wheelchair user.

No, not really. Dogs who have trouble on steep stairs also need longer and shallower ramps than one would think, even if not to ADA standards. Dogs who have trouble climbing steep stairs will also have trouble climbing steep ramps.

To put in a permanent ramp, no matter what for, it'll probably have to meet ADA requirements. A temporary ramp long enough to make that height walkable by a dog who has trouble with those stairs would be quite long and, basically, not feasible. You can make a short inflexible ramp that'll take a dog up to a bed or a car, but the higher it goes, the longer it has to be, and eventually it's going to require support along the length.

ADA is very relevant.
posted by galadriel at 5:05 PM on December 4, 2010


Now that Roark's a few days recovered from his cross-country flight, he's doing their stairs much better, fwiw.

maybe soon he'll be able to do the house internal stairs too.
posted by k8t at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2010


I'm sure that nobody is still reading this, but I wanted to let you all know I haven't forgotten about this. It's about 80% done, sitting in a word file on my work computer.

The thing I asked about here happened last week, and that's been occupying my time.

So...cheers to everyone. :)
posted by TomMelee at 7:06 AM on December 21, 2010


Congrats!

I went and searched the blue yesterday wondering if I'd missed it. Glad to know I didn't.
posted by galadriel at 10:26 AM on December 21, 2010


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