Empowering Airport Facilities Teams for ADA Compliance:
Mobile Apps and Innovative Solutions
In recognition this summer's 33rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Disability Pride Month, White House officials discussed ways to help people using wheelchairs navigate through airports via the Airport Terminals program which also addresses the aging infrastructure of the nation’s airports.
Airports are complex facilities filled with activity and traffic 24/7/365 and many hundreds of pieces of equipment needed to stay operational and provide safe conditions for travelers. As facilities age, equipment is more likely to require additional maintenance. Locating and servicing every shutoff and AHU in a huge terminal isn’t always easy, especially in airports that have been renovated multiple times over the years.
The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in various areas of public life, including transportation.
In terms of building management and facilities, there’s a significant impact and awareness of changes necessary for ramps and elevators, parking, doorways, restrooms, signage, and wayfinding.
For facilities teams, the ADA has added additional planned maintenance to already busy and short-staffed teams, according to Brent Ward, of Left Coast Facility Consulting.
Here are examples:
- Any door with a closer must be inspected annually for the number of pounds of pressure it takes to open it
- Exterior ramps need to be examined for deterioration.
- Signage must be accessible and readable in Braille.
- Rest rooms must be checked for movable objects being put in the wheelchair path.
- There should be additional training for any ADA personnel regarding exit routes, and special training for Zone Leaders in assisting ADA personnel.
Any building, such as an airport, can be completely within regulations when it's built, but it's up to facilities teams to keep it that way. The trouble is, it's often difficult for employees to intuitively know how to stay ADA compliant -- through no fault of their own.
They aren't used to seeing the world through the eyes of someone with a disability. Someone might unwittingly create problems by hanging coat hooks too high or placing objects in the path of wheelchair users.
One resource to consider adding to the airport facilities team “toolbox” is an app which stores historic renovations and building plans, equipment locations, emergency contacts and evacuation routes, and shut-offs.
Using a mobile platform from ARC Facilities, ramps and elevators, parking areas, doorways, restrooms, signage, and wayfinding can all be mapped and pinned on a mobile device, and changes can be made in the field, on the go.
Navigating through airports is confusing for many of us, but for folks who are disabled, these facilities can be bewildering.
The teams who keep airports functioning should have the ability to capture, share, and update equipment inventories, provide building info to first responders in the event of an emergency, and not rely on recall to make decisions about proactive and deferred equipment maintenance.