Monday, February 14, 2011

THE ADA and common Sense?

Fire Alarm System Strobe Lights
Just one of many things the Americans with Disabilities Act
Has done that actually hurts many people it was intended to help.
By: Nick Markowitz Jr.
A Disabled individual

You’re at a store shopping or maybe attending a performance and they next thing you know off goes the Fire Alarm
The horns screaming loudly and white strobe lights going off kids are grabbing there ears start screaming and everyone starts leaving the building your in.
How ever the very strobe lights designed to allow hearing impaired individual know there is an emergency are causing other individuals confusion and nausea to point they require assistance to get out.
So what’s going on?
When the ADA strobe regulations came out the medical community was worried about the strobes setting off people with epilepsy so they require all strobe lights to be synchronized so it lessons the chance of a Elliptic having an attack. But what they forgot was the many people with Brain Injuries, Vertigo and abnormalities such Dyslexia which the strobe lights affect me being one of those with Dyslexia who gets sick to my stomach and disoriented.
When I have to service and test them. No testing was ever done on any condition other than epilepsy.
Why because as is usual in this country some do gooders wanted to do something to help the disabled a very noble cause but instead of actually studying the problem by talking to those who are disabled and looking at all aspects of disabilities it was left up to a hand full of bureaucrats and manufacturers and special interests to write a code which in many cases is detrimental to those it was intended to help and has caused numerous problems no one wants to talk about.
Take the Strobes for instance. The code has now been changed they must be shut off with the horns because hearing impaired individuals had no idea if it was still urgent for them to leave or not because some genius Fire Marshal said lets turn off the horns and leave the strobes on while we check the building so people know there’s still and emergency ,
And you may not have to evacuate fine and dandy but what about the hearing impaired individual.
Again no one thought to look any further than there own interest. Then you have the problem of smoke in the buildings and with the strobes going it becomes a Disco Hell for those trying to get out and firefighters trying to fight the fire. Not only that but all the noise made by too many horns being installed because too many designers think you need a horn everywhere there’s a strobe prevents firefighters from communication.
During the Columbine Massacre the SWAT Team had a horrendous time dealing with the shooting because all the horns and strobes were going off and not having the code to shut off the fire panel.
So as you can see failure to look forward as to what could and does go wrong was never considered and death and injury has resulted.

Of course this is not the only conflict with the ADA take the Restroom requirements’ where before you would have 2-3 stalls now you have one. No Big Deal right. It allows a person in a wheel chair or walker easier access very true but in mean time what about the person with irritable bowel syndrome or other illness who desperately needs to go and now must wait. I know I have been there going thru Colon Cancer again no one ever thought this thru because restrooms take up valuable rentable floor space so designers make them as small and few stalls as possible.
Again one group is served while everyone else is in convinced and those with IBS etc you’re just plain out of luck.
And how about us tall guys because designers again do not think things thru tall guys end up whacking there knee on the toilet paper dispensers.
How about water fountains’, being hung so low that people with bad backs having to bend down to use them.
Becsue code requires the low one and people will not spend the money for a higher one also.
Yes designers never ever think any thing thru its design a building to meet code and nothing but code, for as cheaply as they possibly can.
I could go on and on about how badly thought thru the ADA code was designed.
I have an elderly In Law I take care of and what my poor wife goes thru trying to get her in and out of handicapped restrooms which are so badly designed. With Higher than average toilets which wheel chairs users find hard to get on and un-comfortable to use.
Again consult the computer and so called ergonomics experts how to design something but never ever talk to the group you intend to serve or think anything thru as to will it hurt others.
Take the case I ran into with a burglar alarm system with LCD display keypads optimal viewing height is 54’ from floor but no the ADA inspector says they have to be at 48” where no one tall can read or properly use them and people in wheel chairs can not operate them because of the dexterity required in your fingers. In this case I had available a special hand control for wheel chair use if there ever was an employee hired who was disabled but No that was no good with the inspector even after it was pointed out he was wrong and I meet the code a different way which is permitted.
So end result an ADA complaint got filed and inspector got disciplined for a bad decision.
His answer to the complaint he was doing his job and following code.
Yes once again it seems like building codes and common sense do not go together and groups like NFPA- National Fire Protection Assoc. get all steamed when there’s bumper stickers on contractors trucks going around that says NFPA stand for Not For Practical Application.
A little common sense is what we need but no one ever wants to use it especially when it comes to building codes.
The end results you can get in convinced , hurt or even killed.

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