We get a lot of questions from schools that are looking for classroom furniture to be used in ADA-compliant spaces. Here's a quick run-down on things to consider and some ideas to help you make the right choices for your learning spaces while still providing for the current and future needs of modern learning: mobility, flexibility, collaboration and personalization.
Most ADA guidance for classroom furniture focuses on work surfaces, path of travel, and accommodating wheelchairs. Keep in mind that wheelchair sizes can vary widely so you'll want to check any solution for specific needs. Here are some workspace guidelines:
- Provide a minimum 36" wide, clear path of travel through the classroom
- Allow for a 60" diameter turning radius for a wheelchair
- Work surfaces should be 28"-34" high for a student in a wheelchair with a knee clearance of 27"
- Work surfaces should also provide 19" deep and 30" wide pull-up clearance underneath
Adjustable height tables offer solutions that are mobile, flexible, and collaborative
Tables in classrooms have taken a central role in the move to collaborative learning. And, because of their larger work area, they can usually provide the work surface clearances that are required for ADA compliance. Consider these additional suggestions:
Mobile work surfaces with casters (or wheelbarrowed with two casters and two glides) can be moved around the learning space to create a collaborative work space or allow a clear path of travel as needed. Bringing all students together at a table also provides a more inclusive environment for students in wheelchairs.
Adjustable legs allow schools to provide the right table height for the task and the students involved. This flexibility also lets teachers and administrations change furniture to meet the needs of the student population for that year.
Storage that is easily accessible and allows for the reach range of the children who will use it (reach ranges vary by age) offsets the need for book boxes which can limit the accessibility of a work surface. Consider mobile storage units with removable trays for students who need to keep personal supplies nearby.
We know that accessibility for all students is a much bigger topic than ADA-compliance. Artcobell believes in providing options so that schools can make the best choices for the students they have today, and those who come through the doors tomorrow. Stay tuned as we continue to explore how schools are addressing this in creative, sustainable ways.
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