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Publication numberUS20020125167 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/799,997
Publication dateSep 12, 2002
Filing dateMar 6, 2001
Priority dateMar 6, 2001
Publication number09799997, 799997, US 2002/0125167 A1, US 2002/125167 A1, US 20020125167 A1, US 20020125167A1, US 2002125167 A1, US 2002125167A1, US-A1-20020125167, US-A1-2002125167, US2002/0125167A1, US2002/125167A1, US20020125167 A1, US20020125167A1, US2002125167 A1, US2002125167A1
InventorsPatrick Hughes, H. Bundy, Michael Moran
Original AssigneeHughes Patrick H., Bundy H. Hollister, Moran Michael T.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Disabled access starter kit and method
US 20020125167 A1
A kit is provided for businesses and facilities to increase access by disabled persons. The kit includes a doorbell switch, a sign, a checklist, a tape measure, a doorstop, and potentially an access ramp. Installation instructions for the equipment is provided along with training guidelines for staff, tax forms and other accessibility information. The method includes assembling and offering the kit to businesses and facilities. The method also increases access by disabled persons by facilitating accessibility to businesses.
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We claim:
1. A disabled persons access kit, comprising:
a doorbell switch useable by persons with disabilities; and
a sign indicating accessibility for persons with disabilities.
2. A disabled persons access kit as claimed in claim 1, further comprising:
a measuring device for measuring doorways and other elements of the business for accessability.
3. A disabled persons access kit as claimed in claim 1, further comprising:
at least one of an access ramp and an order form for an access ramp.
4. A disabled persons access kit for use by a business to provide access to persons with disabilities, comprising:
a doorbell switch usable by persons with disabilities;
a sign indicating access for persons with disabilities;
a checklist of access information;
a tape measure; and
at least one of a ramp and an order form for a ramp.
5. A disabled persons access kit as claimed in claim 4, further comprising:
a door stop.
6. A method for providing access to persons with disabilities, comprising the steps of:
providing a kit including:
access signage;
a checklist;
a doorbell; and
offering an access ramp.
7. A method as claimed in claim 6, further comprising the step of:
providing installation and use instructions in said kit.
8. A method of providing access equipment to businesses, comprising the steps of:
assembling a kit of access equipment for businesses of a predetermined size; and
marketing said kit to said businesses of said predetermined size.
9. A method as claimed in claim 8, wherein said step of assembling includes the sub-steps of:
providing a sign;
providing a doorbell;
providing a ramp; and
providing a checklist.
10. A method as claimed in claim 9, further comprising the sub-step of:
providing a doorstop.
11. A method as claimed in claim 9, wherein said step of providing a ramp includes providing an order form in said kit for separately ordering said ramp to ensure a properly-sized ramp.
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to a kit for providing access to businesses and buildings to persons with disabilities and to a method relating thereto.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Persons with disabilities may have difficulty obtaining access to commercial buildings or business facilities. These difficulties may relate to curbs or steps which cannot be traversed, doors which the person may be unable to open unaided, doorways which are too narrow for a wheelchair, etc. Important opportunities are missed by the business by unintentionally excluding the disabled customer and the disabled person also misses out on the opportunities which await inside.
  • [0005]
    In addition, laws have been enacted that require businesses to make changes to make themselves accessible to people with disabilities. However, businesses, particularly small businesses are unaware of what measures can, or should, be taken to increase accessibility by disabled individuals and/or cannot afford high-cost measures such as renovation of store fronts or electronic power door openers.
  • [0006]
    The present invention provides a kit with equipment and information for enabling access by disabled persons to commercial establishments. The kit provides the materials and information needed by a business to make changes so that the business or facility is more inclusive.
  • [0007]
    The present invention also includes a method for increasing access by persons with disabilities.
  • [0008]
    According to the present invention, a kit is provided for sale to businesses and facilities, particularly small businesses. The kit includes information and equipment to assist the business or facility in becoming accessible to persons with disabilities. The kit includes a sign to indicate an accessible entrance, an easy to activate doorbell, installation instructions, and may include a ramp, a checklist, a doorstop and a tape measure and potentially other information and equipment in a single commercial unit.
  • [0009]
    The business owner or manager may be aware of the positive effects on the business by increasing access for persons with disabilities, elderly, parents with children and others needing assistance. The business owner or manager will be able to purchase the present kit, through channels including, but not limited to, local office supply stores, other retail stores, through umbrella organizations such as chambers of commerce, or by directly ordering the kit. The kit assists the business owner or manager to understand the issues relating to access for disabled persons and provides the equipment and information needed to make their business accessible. Access is improved without the expense of, consultants, contractors and/or attorneys.
  • [0010]
    The present invention also relates to a method of increasing access by persons with disabilities and to a method of providing access equipment to businesses and facilities. The first mentioned method includes the steps of providing ramps, signs, door bells and other equipment and information so that persons with disabilities have increased access to small businesses and facilities. The second mentioned method of providing equipment and information to businesses and facilities includes providing the equipment and information in a kit and marketing the kit to businesses as a commercial unit. A further aspect of the method is that the commercial unit may include an order form for businesses to separately order an access ramp or other equipment.
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a business or facility entrance including access equipment according to the present invention;
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a kit including access equipment and information according to the principles of the present invention;
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 3 is a flow chart of decisions by a business or facility to increase access; and
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 4 is a flow chart of access steps by a business owner and the person with disabilities at a business entrance.
  • [0015]
    Referring first to FIG. 1, an entrance 10 to a building 12 is shown. The entrance may be an entrance to a store, office or other business facility or may be an entrance to a residence such as a house, apartment or residence hall. The entrance may also be to a nonprofit organization, a private home or other facility. For purposes of the present invention, the facility may be any structure or entrance, whether the entrance is either outside or within a building.
  • [0016]
    The entrance 10 has been provided with equipment to increase access by persons with disabilities. The equipment includes a removable ramp 14 over a step 16 at the entrance 10, an easily activated door bell switch 18 linked wirelessly to a doorbell 20 inside the building 12, and a sign 22 indicating an accessible entrance. In a further embodiment, a doorstop 26 is provided to hold the door 28 open while the person with disabilities enters the building 12.
  • [0017]
    The ramp 14 is optional and its use depends upon the configuration of the entrance and the presence of a curb or one or more steps 16. A business owner who does not need a ramp 14 may purchase the present kit without it. The removable ramp 14 is held in position by pins 15 that fit into corresponding holes bored into the step 16. Slippage of the ramp during use is thereby prevented. The pins 15 are optional and their use may depend upon the configuration and material of the step. Other means for holding the ramp 14 in place may also be used.
  • [0018]
    The doorbell switch 18, when activated, alerts those inside that assistance is needed and that the ramp 14 may be required. The doorbell switch 18 may be provided on a wall or other structural portion of the building 12. As an alternative, the doorbell switch 18′ and/or the sign 22′ are mounted on a post 17 set at a convenient location. The present kit may include an order form for the post 17. Not only is the location of the switch important, but the height of the switch must be such that it can be reached by persons in wheelchairs, such as at a height of 36 inches from the floor or ground.
  • [0019]
    Prior to installation of the equipment according to the present invention, a person encountering the entrance 10 in a wheelchair or who is otherwise unable to traverse a step and/or open a door would be unable to enter the building or may do so only with considerable difficulty. The business owner or facilities manager is able to purchase and install the present access kit so that the step no longer presents a barrier to a person who uses a wheelchair, scooter or walker. The ramp enables access by persons having a variety of disabilities, but does not alone overcome the obstacles to access. For this reason, the doorbell switch 18 and sign 22 are provided. A person who is unable to open the door, or traverse the portable ramp 14 without assistance, is able to ring the doorbell 20 by activating the doorbell switch 18.
  • [0020]
    In a preferred embodiment, the doorbell switch 18 is relatively large and requires minimal pressure to activate. In one embodiment, the doorbell switch is round, approximately three inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, and marked with the international symbol for accessibility. Because the doorbell switch 18 may be mounted outside, it preferably has a cover of weather resistant plastic. The size and format of the doorbell switch 18 permits a person with limited manual dexterity to activate it with a fist, for example, rather than a finger. The doorbell switch can also be activated by a cane or other implement.
  • [0021]
    The doorbell switch 18 has a battery power supply 30 and a radio transmitter 32. The radio transmitter 32 preferably operates on an industry-standard frequency which is picked up by a receiver 34 of the doorbell 20. The doorbell 20 and receiver 34 may be plugged into a standard AC wall socket. The transmitter 32 of a preferred embodiment has a range of 20 to 125 feet, although other ranges are also possible. The doorbell switch 18 is therefore a self-contained unit which does not require external wiring, and is easy to install.
  • [0022]
    Upon activation of the doorbell switch 18, the doorbell 20 sounds, alerting staff of the business or facility of the presence of a disabled person who needs assistance. The doorbell switch 18 is mounted near a sign 22. The sign 22 has the international symbol for handicapped accessibility along with text 23 indicating that the person should “ring for assistance” and may indicate “portable ramp available”. A separate text sign 25 for these instruction is also possible. The sign may also include the statement in Braille. In one embodiment, the sign is 4 inches by 4 inches (10.2 cm by 10.2 cm).
  • [0023]
    The ramp 14 of the present invention provides access over curbs and steps for wheelchairs, scooters, and baby strollers of all types. The ramp 14 is portable and can therefore be put into place when needed and removed at other times. It can also be moved to other doorways, steps and curbs as the need arises.
  • [0024]
    The preferred ramp is of aluminum, is three feet long, hinged to fold to a package six inches across, weighs 16 pounds, has a width of 30 inches and a capacity of 600 pounds. One example of such a ramp is offered by HomeCare Products. It therefore provides a full width driving surface for wheelchairs, scooters or baby strollers. Side rails of, for example, 2 inches height, extend along both sides as a safety guide and for added strength. The top surface is provided with a non-skid track to prevent slipping. The preferred ramp 14 is thus convenient to store and easy to set up so as to provide access over curbs and steps.
  • [0025]
    Ramps of other dimensions are also provided, according to the present invention, according to the height and/or number of steps to be traversed. A chart may be provided in the present kit which correlates the height of a step or incline over which the ramp is to run with a length of ramp to achieve predetermined slope. For example, a ramp angle of 4.8 degrees or less is ideal, while a ramp angle of up to 7.2 degrees may be acceptable. The proper size ramp may then be ordered from the kit supplier or from another source.
  • [0026]
    Referring to FIG. 2, the present invention provides that the access equipment is offered in a kit. One such kit 34 is sold as a commercial unit in a box 36 and includes the doorbell switch 18, sign 22 and doorstop 26, as well as further information and equipment. For example, a tape measure 38 is provided in the kit 34. The tape measure 38 is used by the business or facility personnel in measuring the height of the step or curb 16, the location and height of the doorbell switch 18 and the width of the doorway at the entrance 10 and other measurements for accessibility per the checklist. The sign 22 should also be mounted at a readily visible location of 60″ and the tape measure can be used to determine its mounting location.
  • [0027]
    The kit 34 is provided with a card or booklet 40 providing the installation instructions for the various components of the kit 34, such as the doorbell switch 18, sign 22 and the ramp 14. Another component of the kit 34 is a checklist 42 which provides a concise list of tasks to make the business or facility accessible. Also included is information training of staff and employees to respond to the doorbell call for assistance, to install the ramp and to open the door if necessary, to assist the customer up and down the ramp as a qualified helper and to provide other assistance as needed to the customer with disabilities. The information provided assists in training the staff to be aware of the needs of people with disabilities. This information may be in the form of a handout or other materials providing tips for interacting with customers with disabilities. A further item in the kit is a booklet 44 explaining in plain language the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the business owner or facilities manager to use as a guide. The kit 34 may also include a form or information on tax credits for expenses incurred in making the business accessible.
  • [0028]
    It is contemplated that the kit 34 is sold in two versions, a first version as shown in FIG. 2 without the ramp 14 (but which preferably includes an order form for a ramp), and a second embodiment that is packaged with the ramp 14. The primary difference between the two kits is the size of the box required to enclose the ramp, and of course the higher cost to cover the ramp.
  • [0029]
    The present invention therefore provides a readily achievable upgrade to a business or facility to increase access by handicapped or disabled persons. The materials included in the present kit 34 enable many small businesses, facilities and retail locations to become more accessible without the expense of experts, consultants, and/or lawyers to interpret the laws and study the facilities. The access solution can be matched to the financial resources of the small business and does not require the business owner or manager to become an expert in disability access laws to implement the improvements. Further, the present kit provides access equipment that is reasonably priced for the small business owner and avoids costly equipment like automatic door openers and other specialized products or renovation.
  • [0030]
    It is foreseen that the present kit 34 is provided for sale at retail outlets such as office supply stores. through sales, through umbrella organizations, or through catalogs or other order facilities, including on-line ordering.
  • [0031]
    According to the invention, a method of providing access capability to a business is provided, as illustrated for example in FIG. 3. The business owner or manager is made aware of disabled access issues, at 50, by the media, word-of-mouth, advertising, etc. If the business person determines that no action is necessary, at 52, then the process is ended, at 54. However, if action is deemed necessary, the business person may research the regulations and assess the business facilities, at 56, before making a decision, at 58, to purchase equipment. If the decision is negative, at 60, the process is ended, but if the decision is positive then the kit 34 is purchased, at 62.
  • [0032]
    The installation instructions are reviewed at 64 to determine if a ramp 14 is needed, at 65. It is foreseen that information regarding the ramp is provided on the outside of the box 36 so that the purchaser can determine if the kit with the ramp or the kit without the ramp should be purchased. If the ramp is not purchased, at 65, the doorbell 18 and sign 22 are installed at 66. If, on the other hand, the ramp will be purchased at 67, either the kit with the included three foot ramp is bought or the kit with the order form for a different ramp is bought. Prior to ordering the different ramp, measurements are taken, at 68, the appropriate ramp is ordered, at 69 and the ramp arrives, at 70. The ramp is then installed along with the doorbell 18 and sign 22. Holes may be bored in the step for the ramp pins 15. The doorbell switch 18 is preferably mounted at the proper height to be accessible to a person in a wheelchair (ideally 36 to 42 inches). The employees or staff are then trained in the set up and use of the ramp, at 72.
  • [0033]
    The business person also reviews the checklist 42, at 74, and addresses accessibility issues, at 76, thereby leading the business person to making a decision, at 78, as to whether additional action is needed. These additional changes may include, but are not limited to, moving tables and fixtures to provide an aisle of at least 36 inches and covering or removing plush carpet over which a wheelchair would have difficulty moving. Policy changes of the organization may also be required. If so, a custom redesign of the facilities decision is made, at 80, and performed, at 82, by contacting the provider of the present kit to perform the custom redesign work, if needed. If the custom redesign is not needed, any changes which are required to meet accessibility issues are made, at 83. Once all necessary changes are made, employees and staff are trained, at 84. This training may include use of materials from government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and other organizations to assist disabled persons, which are listed in a resource guide included in the kit 34. The business person may then seek a tax credit for the expenses incurred, at 86, and the process is ended, at 88.
  • [0034]
    The person encountering the business or facility equipped for access using the present kit 34 may follow the process illustrated in FIG. 4. The disabled person approaches the business, at 90, and determines if independent entry is possible, at 92. If so, the person enters independently, at 94. If the disabled person is unable to enter unassisted, they recognize the signage 22 as indicating an accessible facility, at 96, follow the instructions to ring the doorbell switch 18, at 98, and the doorbell 20 inside the building sounds, at 100. A trained qualified helper for the business or facility is alerted, at 102, who then determines what type of assistance is needed, at 104. If a ramp is available, a decision as to whether the ramp 14 is needed is made, at 106. If no ramp 14 is required, the trained helper assists the disabled person, at 108, to enter the facility, at 110. If the ramp 14 is needed, it is installed, at 112, and assistance is offered, so that the disabled person can enter, at 110. The ramp 14 should be removed, at 114, if it interferes with the entry and exit of non-disabled persons.
  • [0035]
    Once the person is in the business or facility, continued assistance may be provided, at 116. The commerce is completed, at 118, and the ramp, if needed, is put down and assistance is offered, at 120, to exit the business. Once the disabled person has safely exited the facility, the ramp is removed and the process is ended, at 122.
  • [0036]
    Alternative embodiments for the present invention provide that a doorbell receiver 20 may be ordered after purchase of the kit 34, or may even be included. The doorbell receiver 20 may, for example, be a model RC 3730 wireless chime or may be an RC 3520 battery operated receiver which are products of Dimango/Lamson Home Products. For locations where multiple doorbells are located near to one another, a multiple frequency coded receiver may be provided for the doorbell 20. Corresponding transmitter codes for the doorbell switch 18 transmitter 32 would be used as well. The doorbell switch 18 and doorbell 20 may be hardwired to one another where this is feasible.
  • [0037]
    If the business is noisy, such as a restaurant, the doorbell 20 may include a flashing light to alert employees of the business that a customer requires assistance. The doorbell may be provided in different colors at the customers' request.
  • [0038]
    The sign 22, or an additional sign 24, may provide instructions such a “portable ramp available”, or other information for use by the persons with disabilities. Either the signs 22 and 24 or the doorbell switch 18 may be provided with the logo of either the company offering the access kit or the company purchasing the access equipment.
  • [0039]
    A further option which may be included in the kit or offered by separate order is a pull-force tester that can be used to measure the opening force for interior or exterior doors.
  • [0040]
    This may be configured somewhat like a fish scale and may be marked to show limits of acceptable force. The information in the kit may have pull-force limit information as well.
  • [0041]
    A further option is a post as shown in FIG. 1 for setting in the ground on which to mount the doorbell switch 18, and possibly the sign. This may be included in one version of the kit or provided by special order.
  • [0042]
    The present invention therefore permits a small business to increase access to persons with disabilities. The access equipment may also be used for increasing access for baby strollers, emergency medical technicians, hand carts or the like. Costs of consultants and contractors for special modifications are avoided, and persons with disabilities have increased access to a wider variety of businesses and facilities.
  • [0043]
    In another embodiment, the ramp provided according to the present invention is of plastic. Other materials may also be used.
  • [0044]
    Although other modifications and changes may be suggested by those skilled in the art, it is the intention of the inventors to embody within the patent warranted hereon all changes and modifications as reasonably and properly come within the scope of their contribution to the art.
Patent Citations
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US5992620 *Oct 15, 1998Nov 30, 1999Holtom; Ronald P.Accident report kit
US6028504 *Mar 30, 1999Feb 22, 2000M. H. Segan Limited PartnershipRemovable door chime
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7049955Apr 26, 2002May 23, 2006Inclusion Solution LlcMethod and apparatus for disabled access to gas stations
US7049956Jun 19, 2003May 23, 2006Inclusion Solutions, LlcMethod and apparatus for disabled access to polling places
US20030201890 *Apr 26, 2002Oct 30, 2003Inclusion Solutions, LlcMethod and apparatus for disabled access to gas stations
US20040257221 *Jun 19, 2003Dec 23, 2004Inclusion Solutions, LlcMethod and apparatus for disabled access to polling places
U.S. Classification206/575, 206/321
International ClassificationG08B7/06
Cooperative ClassificationG08B7/06
European ClassificationG08B7/06
Legal Events
Mar 6, 2001ASAssignment
Effective date: 20010306