30+ Years of ADA Access

By Tracy Timmerman, Marketing Manager

Since the inception of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, accessibility has become a legal requirement. But more importantly, accessible design is instrumental in providing better care to all patients regardless of disability or other limitations.


The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including healthcare facilities and medical equipment, ensuring everyone has the same rights and opportunities.


Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the ADA. According to the ADA, there are many ways in which the ADA has transformed American society and enabled a generation of Americans with disabilities to thrive. For example, the ADA created curb cuts at street intersections and wheelchair ramps instead of or in addition to stairs. It supported the development of speech-to-speech translation services for effective communication. It also outlined specific exam room requirements for individuals seated in wheelchairs or other mobility devices. 


Midmark has responded too. With the average age of patients on the rise, it is more likely that patients will increasingly need assistance in accessing exam chairs. Exam chairs with a seat height of 15.5 ” can allow the majority of patients to transfer onto and off of the chair with little or no assistance from caregivers. Adjustable-height exam chairs reduce the risk of distress and injury to patients, including those who are elderly, disabled, obese or pregnant, who may have difficulty accessing fixed exam tables. They also help reduce the risk of caregiver injury caused by assisting or lifting patients onto and off of the chair.


We believe everyone should receive access to quality healthcare, regardless of mobility limitations. Having the right equipment and trained staff can make a huge difference in providing safe, quality care and improving patient outcomes.


In the clinical exam room, state regulations concerning spatial relationships can override Federal ADA regulations. As these lines become blurred, it can be confusing for healthcare systems to understand how to best provide accessibility and equal care.


Although these considerations are not all-encompassing, the list below is a good place to begin when considering accessible design in the clinical space:


  • Size of the room
  • Types of procedures conducted in the space
  • Type of equipment used in the room
  • State in which the room is built
  • Types of mobility devices being used by patients or staff
  • Increasing patient throughput
  • Preventing burnout and staff turnover
  • Locating equipment for care and maintenance


Accessibility in healthcare facilities is essential to providing a safer environment and equivalent medical care to all patients and staff. Learn more about how designing for accessibility impacts the point of care in this brochure.