GHA’s ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Nationwide Journey


At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our commitment to the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is evident in our operations, highlighted by our ADA Compliance Toolkit. This toolkit, conceived and developed by GHA, is a direct response to the essential need for precise ADA compliance in a wide range of environments. Created from a blend of practical expertise and innovative vision, this toolkit is instrumental in our ADA retrofit operations, reflecting our proficiency in meeting and advancing accessible design standards.

ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Closer Look

GHA’s ADA Compliance Toolkit is a model of efficiency and practicality. Comprising of four tools – two 4-foot levels, a tape measure, and a 2-foot level – it exemplifies the concept of ‘less is more’. Each tool has been chosen for its specific role in verifying ADA compliance across project locations.

Utilizing two 4-foot levels for compliance checks enables us to cross-verify their accuracy. This approach ensures each tool independently verifies the measurements, enhancing the precision and trustworthiness of our evaluations. “The 2-foot level is an ingenious addition for tighter spaces, making it possible to assess compliance in more confined areas, which is a common issue in retrofit projects,” Mitch Rogalski, Engineering Technician notes.

Integral to Retrofit Operations

The ADA Compliance Toolkit is a vital companion to GHA’s ADA retrofit program, gracefully journeying through every phase of our projects.  It’s crucial for ensuring compliance, proving to be an invaluable resource throughout the entire process from design and permitting to construction oversight and quality control.

The toolkit’s presence continues into the final inspection phase, where it helps confirm that the completed retrofit work meets ADA standards. Its continuous use throughout the retrofit process exemplifies our comprehensive approach to ADA compliance. “The toolkit is basically our trusted travel companion,” Alex Kendzior, P.E. explains. “It allows us to verify compliance efficiently at all stages, from initial assessments to final inspections.”

Real-World Application and Impact

In the field, the toolkit’s practicality shines. Alex shares, “Using the toolkit, we’ve efficiently checked gradients, pathway widths, and other essential features to verify compliance with ADA standards. It’s uncomplicated yet thorough, allowing us to quickly identify and address possible non-compliance issues.” Utilizing the toolkit on-site has enhanced our ADA retrofit program, providing faster and more accurate compliance checks.

When the Toolkit discovers compliance or non-compliance factors on-site, detailed annotations are made on the site plans. These markings, directly inspired by the toolkit’s findings, ensure that all potential non-compliance issues are accurately recorded and addressed. Photographic evidence plays a crucial role in the compliance process, ensuring both accuracy and reliability. By providing a clear record, it effectively guides the necessary actions in retrofitting, assuring ADA standards are met at every step. “Every project site visit the toolkit visits is an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to ensuring accessible and compliant environments,” Mitch adds.

Travel Anecdotes: The Toolkit’s Odyssey

The ADA Compliance Toolkit’s journey from bustling metropolitan areas to serene rural communities embodies the versatility and reach of our ADA retrofit efforts. With every stop, the toolkit’s epic tale adds a new chapter, reflecting the GHA team’s commitment as they ensure accessibility standards nationwide. The toolkit has its share of unique travel stories, and these tales of transit provide a glimpse into the everyday dedication of our team.

Due to its size, the ADA Compliance Toolkit is typically considered oversized baggage, adding an intriguing twist to our team’s travel narratives. Locating the toolkit in various airports’ baggage areas has become a familiar, if unconventional, part of our journeys. “It transforms the start of each project into a mini adventure,” quips Jeremy Fisher, Engineering Technician.

Getting through airport security can be a comical hurdle at times. “The toolkit has been mistaken for everything from sporting equipment to a musical instrument in the eyes of security,” chuckles Jeremy. These moments at security checkpoints show the frequent use of the toolkit in our retrofit operations across the country.

Selecting vehicles for site visits has evolved into an art form, dictated by the toolkit itself. “It’s almost as if the toolkit picks the rental cars, demanding enough space to comfortably fit,” Mitch amusingly notes. At four feet wide and a weight of 30 lbs, the toolkit’s size is a key factor in our vehicle selection process. This attention to logistical nuances, while easy to overlook, affirms GHA’s skill in navigating challenges to deliver ADA compliance solutions, regardless of the destination. The foresight involved in selecting the appropriate tools is critical, demanding a blend of anticipation and precision that may not be immediately apparent but is pivotal in delivering a superior service to our clients.

Reflections and Future Outlook

Reflecting on the expansive journey of our ADA Compliance Toolkit, it’s traveled more than 27,000 miles, touching down in eight states to assist in our ADA retrofit missions. Florida claims the distinction of hosting the toolkit the most, with 15 visits, contributing more than 15,000 miles to its travel log. This extensive travel showcases the toolkit’s integral role in our nationwide efforts to champion accessibility standards, highlighting the dedication and reach of the GHA team as we work to ensure ADA compliance across diverse environments.

Team members across GHA offer their insights on the ADA Compliance Toolkit. “Every time we use this toolkit, it reaffirms our role in shaping accessible spaces,” reflects Alex. Brian Sears, Civil Engineer, chimes in, “It’s rewarding to see the direct impact our work has on verifying environments are ADA compliant.”

Looking ahead, GHA commits to maintaining and elevating accessible design standards. “Our goal is to continuously innovate and improve our approaches,” states Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM Director of Site Design Services. “The toolkit, while pivotal, is merely the beginning. We’re exploring technologies and methodologies to further elevate our ADA retrofit initiatives.”

“The toolkit has become an essential member of our team, journeying with us to each site with its own seat in the van,” jokes Brian. “And just like any team member, it occasionally demands its own cup of coffee in the morning.”