The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in the U.S. in 1990. This law added individuals with disabilities to the classes of people who cannot be discriminated against in jobs, schools, private businesses, public spaces and elsewhere. People can also not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, and national origin.
How does that apply to self storage? Well, it means that private businesses offering services to the public cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. As such, they need to provide a certain level of accommodation for those who need it.
So, how can you tell if the facility you rent from is ADA compliant? There may be a sign on display behind the front desk affirming the company’s compliance, but there may not. Also, amendments have been added to the ADA and standards are adjusted at times, so it’s possible that a self storage business may have been fully compliant last year, but may need to make some adjustments this year. You can also ask someone who works there, or check the website. If it is ADA compliant, it should offer units set aside for people with physical disabilities.
You may be curious about what that means, so let’s cover the requirements.
A Matter of Units
There are certain standards a self storage facility must meet in order to comply with the ADA. When we’re talking about a self storage facility being compliant, generally we’re talking about wheelchair accessibility. While other disabilities fall under the purview of the ADA, including a host of mental disabilities, it’s physical handicaps that can make using a storage facility difficult.
A certain number of units must be considered disability accessible, and the ADA specifies the rules. Out of the first 200 units at a facility, 5 percent must be compliant, and out of the remaining units, 2 percent must be compliant. Here are two examples to illustrate how this works. If a facility has 160 units, then 8 must be ADA compliant. If a facility has 300 units, then 12 must be ADA compliant.
In addition, these units must come in a range of sizes. The facility with 300 units can’t simply set aside 12 5x5 units. Instead, they should represent a range from small too large, so that tenants with disabilities have a choice of unit type, just like everyone else.
If a unit that’s meant to be disability accessible has a roll-up door, then the door must have some modifications to be ADA compliant.
A pull rope must be installed on the door somewhere between 15’ and 48’ above ground level, and this rope must have a loop at the end big enough to fit a fist. This is so that someone in a wheelchair can pull the door upward.
In place of the rope that usually attaches to the bottom of the door, a new nylon rope must be installed in the same spot, such that when the door is at its maximum height, it hangs down to between 15’ and 48’ from the ground. It must also have a loop large enough for a fist. This rope replaces the rope that would otherwise be there.
The door must be tensioned at five pounds of maximum force. In layman’s terms, that means the door needs to be easy to open and close.
If a ramp is necessary to get to a compliant unit in a wheelchair, then that must be added. The flat section in front of the unit must cover the full width of said unit.
Currently, those are the ADA standards for a self storage facility. If you have a physical disability that requires special access, you should have no trouble finding a facility that will meet your needs.