Archive for August, 2015

Disney Impresses with Accessibility

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

My family and I just finished our first vacation to Disney World! We had such an incredible time riding all the rides, eating all the junk food and navigating our way around the various theme parks. My children did have to endure a few embarrassing “mom” moments, however — more than most kids usually have to put up with on a family vacation. In addition to enjoying our first Disney adventure, I made it my mission to document some of the new amusement park requirements in the 2010 ADA, which meant standing in line a few extra minutes to wait for any accessible seats, photographing complete strangers without their knowledge, and a few other tasks that completely shamed my children. Isn’t that what most parents do when they take their family to the happiest place on earth?

The Results Are In

The results of my undercover mission were quite impressive. It was truly amazing to me how accessible the entire Disney system was. There were so many people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids, not to mention people who had temporary mobility issues and even baby strollers. I was very impressed with Disney for how sensitive and accommodating their parks were for persons with disabilities.

Common Areas

As with any public accommodation, an amusement park has common areas that are open to the everyone and therefore must be in compliance. Disney succeeded in all areas, from the transportation system to restrooms to accessible ramps throughout every park. Take a look for yourself:

Designated loading areas at every bus stop and on every bus.


Accessible restrooms throughout every park.

Ramps along all routes.

Lifts and other means of entry in the swimming pool areas at each of the resorts.


Accessible dining surfaces and seating at the attractions in abundance.

Accessible Rides

The 2010 ADA devotes an entire section to creating accessible amusement park rides. With special spaces designated for people in wheelchairs, companion seats, accessible loading areas and ramps, Disney passed with flying colors.

Dreams Come True…For Everyone

I’m pleased to share that our first family trip to Disney World was a rousing success. Disney has created an accessible place where everyone can enjoy a magical experience, including my family, who, I’m proud to say, survived the entire vacation with their “crazy mom on a mission.”

Because the standard requirements for amusement parks are very detailed, I encourage you to study the 2010 ADA. You may also read more in my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”

“Applying the ADA” published by Wiley.

They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

Inspector’s Corner

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

July 26th, 2015 was the 25th anniversary of the ADA.  On July 23rd the AIA Dallas organized an awareness day exercise called “Wheelchair in A Day” where we asked 10 architects to sit in a wheelchair and record their experiences throughout the day.  The day was a huge success and the stories they retold were so important.  This newsletter will give you a few examples of the participants.


Thank you to Bob Bullis, AIA; Beth Brandt, AIA; Daivd Dillard, FAIA; Bob Borson, AIA; Peter Darby AIA, Laurel Stone, Amanda Adler, Jason Dugas, AIA for participating and for sharing your experience with the rest of us!

Traveling by Airplane on a wheelchair

AIA Dallas President Bob Bullis, AIA participated in the “Wheelchair for a Day” event.  He had a meeting in Houston which he decided to keep.  So he flew in his wheelchair and tweeted about his experience.  We asked him what was his biggest challenge.  He told us about his trials with TSA….and I will not get into the “search” pat down he received…Southwest Airlines was very accommodating, and allowed him to remain in the chair so he could experience what it was like.  He got to go to the front of the line and board first.


He liked the feel of the Terrazzo flooring the best….easier to push on.  But noticed that even the slightest slope was hard to navigate



Being in the office and going out to lunch

Two architects experienced their day in a wheelchair: Bob Borson, AIA and David Dillard, FAIA

Bob Borson, AIA experienced his day in the office doing his typical duties: making copies, taking drawings from his car to his desk, and even going out to lunch.  All a very eye opening experiences….read his blog post for a more detailed account


I bet Bob was glad that the doors of his office had the proper widths and maneuvering clearances 


When Bob wen out to lunch here is what he experienced 

Next challenge? Going out to lunch. Again, long arms to the rescue, but I am acutely aware of how freakishly long my arms are and as a result, I am acutely aware of how difficult going through a cafeteria line would be for people who don’t have the physical proportions of a simian. “ 


Taking the tray back to his table was a big challenge…glad he didn’t drop his food!


when he got to his table he noticed that there was no place for a wheelchair except at the end….he made everyone move and find a better table (It’s good to be the boss)


David Dillard, FAIA also stayed in his office and also experienced his daily routine in a wheelchair.  Meetings are easier when you are the designer of the office and make accommodations…Good job David!


David also had doors he had to maneuver…although his experience was different since he had an electric wheelchair


The City of Dallas didn’t plan properly the locations of stop signs and fire hydrants.  David found them right in the middle of his accessible route.  I bet those were fun to maneuver.


At lunch they found a restaurant with a wheelchair lift that accommodated him so he could dine with his colleagues


Experiences like these makes architects and designers more sensitive to the people they are designing for.

Taking public transportation

The last example was of our friend Peter Darby, AIA who decided to spend his day in a wheelchair navigating the public transportation system in the City of Dallas


Peter rode in buses, light rail, taxis and even Uber

“Quite a few impediments today. Blocked, Crooked pavements or sidewalks to nowhere! “


He experienced getting onto light rail via ramps


And buses


Getting assistance from rail operators


It takes so much longer to get from point A to point B when you are in a wheelchair taking public transportation, but most people with disabilities, especially visually impaired people use public transportation to get around.  It is so important that we have these accommodations to enable them to be independent and as sense of dignity and empowerment.

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities

August 7, 2015 Accessibility Professionals Association Regional training Plano, Texas

8:00 – 10:00 am- Difference between TAS and ADA Standards- 2 CE/LU/HSW

10:15 am -11:15 pm-  Retail Stores and Spaces- TDLR 1 CE #13464, AIA #155 1 LU/HSW- Detail Review of Retail Spaces Barrier Removal;Common errors; Path of Travel Requirements; Retail Accessible Parking and Accessible Routes,

August 13, 2015 Metrocon 15

An ADA Case Study of Existing & Remodeled Interiors
11:00 a.m. and 1:00PM

If you are interested in Building Code seminars check out my colleague Shahla Layendecker with SSTL Codes

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”  “Applying the ADA” published by Wiley. 



 They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714

Useful Links