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Phones & ADA Compliance

Are telephones required in the elevator and what is an ADA compliant telephone?

ASME A17.1b, 1998 (Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators), A17.2, 1998  (Guide for Inspection of Elevators, Escalators, and Moving Walks), and A17.3, 1996 (Safety Code for Existing Elevators and Escalators), adopted by Florida, require telephones or other acceptable communication devices to be available in elevators and also require that they be tested on a routine and periodic basis.TalkAPhone ADA Compliant Elevator Phone

ADAAG (Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines), ANSI A117.1,1998 (Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities) and the Florida Building Code 11-4.10.14 not only require a telephone in all elevators located in public buildings, but also require that the telephone or communication device must also contain certain components commonly known as "ADA compliant".  President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26th, 1990.  This is referred to as the ADA.  An "ADA compliant" telephone includes features which make it hands free operational.  Additionally, the telephone system must  alert the user indicating the call has been dispatched, the call has been received, and that help is on the way.  Proper signage, Braille and accessibility requirements must also be met.  These additional elements are required for persons who may otherwise be unable to communicate the emergency.

Note that the ADA is not code, but Federal Law which is regulated and enforced by the United States Department of Justice.  In addition, Florida is unique in that the State has its own Constitution.  Florida's Constitution, Section 2,  Basic Rights states "No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability."  This is unlike most other states and we recommend consultation with legal council prior to dismissing any potential concerns.  Unfortunately, it appears that the most common enforcement of ADA compliance occurs through litigation against building owners.

What about an elevator that was installed prior to 1990?

ADAAG requires that architectural and communication barriers be removed immediately  from buildings existing at the time the act was passed.  Since this act was passed more than 14 years ago, it would be most prudent to install an ADA compliant telephone immediately.

Without the properly compliant telephone installed, a property owner may be open to lawsuits by users of the equipment.  The cost of installing these devices is certainly cost effective considering possible litigation expenses and penalties if found not in compliance.  The State of Florida cannot give a variance to requirements of ADAAG, as it is a Federal law and supersedes State building codes or laws.  As recently reported by National Public Radio, the State of Florida is leading the country in lawsuits filed in Federal Court against building owners for noncompliance of ADA.

Many elevator contractors have limited understanding of ADA compliance issues, however, your elevator maintenance contractor should be able to assist you with the purchase and installation of an ADA compliant telephone.  If you have additional concerns or need assistance, please contact us and we will provide you with additional contact resources.  Florida Certified Elevator Inspection does not retail or distribute telephones or any other types of elevator equipment, and we remain completely impartial in assisting building owners in choosing products or vendors.  It is important to remember that the building owner is the party ultimately held responsible for compliance issues.

This article written by:
Tom Waardenburg, NAESA QEI S-97
© 2003-2009 Florida Certified Elevator Inspection

This Is Not an ADA Compliant Telephone

The photograph below is a sample of what we often find while performing reviews of elevators.
The telephone box is approximately 6' 6" (78") from the cab floor (not ADA compliant). 
Even if the elevator passenger requiring assistance could reach the phone box, there will
be no help readily available, as there is not even a communication device within the elevator cab.
(Place your curser over the photograph to see what is inside the "Emergency Telephone" panel)
Note:  You must have "JavaScript" enabled on your computer to see the alternate photograph.


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