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ADA Ramp Compliance

By Elizabeth Bell

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our country has come a long way in creating more inclusive spaces. One such way of doing so is with Title II. It provides regulations so that anyone can access and utilize state and local government services. So, we’re here to talk about one very important feature for pedestrians, ramps.

Mobile LiDAR scan of an intersection and it's ramps

What is ADA Compliance?

ADA compliance is the standard for providing accessible services to disabled individuals. As all ramps must adhere to a set of design standards from the U.S. Access Board, it’s up to municipalities, counties or DOT districts to ensure they’re compliant. Failure to do so may result in fines and potential litigation. So, how do you ensure your ramps are compliant? Traditional methods would have you manually measuring each one with smart levels, tape measures and an army of boots on the ground. But when you govern a whole city, this endeavor can be overwhelming.

The good news? There’s a better and safer way!

A Maser Consulting truck equipped with mobile LiDAR technology

One of Maser Consulting’s trucks equipped with mobile LiDAR technology.

How Can Mobile LiDAR Help with ADA Ramp Compliance?

LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing method used for measuring the distance of an object on the earth’s surface. It illuminates its target with laser light and measures the reflection with a sensor. Used in tandem with cameras and GPS, LiDAR data can be used to create high-resolution digital models. Once this technology is mounted on a vehicle, it becomes mobile LiDAR.

Step 1: Collect the Data

Because mobile LiDAR can collect millions of points of data in a single day, it can significantly reduce the time and money spent on surveying curb ramps. Plus, it removes the need to have field staff working in or near busy roadways.

So, how many ramps are we talking? Well, it depends on the density and accessibility of the area. But in a standard urban area, mobile LiDAR can scan up to 50 intersections a day. That’s potentially 200 to 400 ramps in one day!

Step 2: Assessment Process

With your data collected, we take it back to the office and upload it into a CADD workstation. Then, we create a point cloud, which is a complete colorized capture of what’s in the field. Since this is rendered in 3D, we’re able to change our vantage point and analyze the specifics of any ramp.

Ramp template applied to the point cloud rendering of a ramp

The small turquoise circles at the corners of this ramp are the adjustable vertices available in each template.

We can then perform rapid ADA analysis by utilizing standard ramp templates available within the software. We adjust each template by moving the vertices to align with the corners of your ramps. Once we’re done with that, we run a tool that measures the space between those vertices and linear elements.

Once it’s been processed, the data is reported within a tabular format (think Excel spreadsheet). This includes the key measurements in the Title II design standards: slopes, landing widths and lengths, etc. With this information at your fingertips, you can assess whether a ramp meets the necessary requirements. The information can then be easily transferred into a spreadsheet or geodatabase.

We can also produce the CADD file with this method. This is especially cool since the point cloud knows exactly where each ramp is in the world. That information can then be mapped!

Depending on what your need might be, we can output the data in a variety of ways!

Step 3: Put It on the Map

An aerial view of ramps through a GIS platform

Through GIS, you can quickly view your ramps and whether or not they are ADA compliant.

So, we’ve collected the data, assessed it and extracted it. The next step is to map it. This is where GIS comes in. Most entities already have an enterprise GIS system in place, but this would add another layer. You would be able to view your ramps through a web-based platform. No special software required!

Using GIS, you can color code the ramps by pass or fail. This would enable you to quickly see what needs corrected from a bird’s eye view. If you have a particularly pedestrian heavy intersection with failing ramps, you would know to prioritize that area. You would also be able to click on any ramp and view the tabular data for that specific ramp.

All the information reported in GIS is archivable, which makes for great reporting. Want to compare progress from two years ago? No problem! Having this legacy data is a great benefit.

Is It Right for Your Job?

Using mobile LiDAR, we’re able to expedite a tremendous amount of work with high value results in a short period of time. However, this process is best suited for large areas and would not be the right choice for a small, couple of miles project.

Want more information or a private presentation on this topic? Contact Paul DiGiacobbe at!

Maser Webinar Series

This article is part of our Maser Webinar Blog Series. We turned directly to the experts who were excited to share their latest technologies, insights and strategies. If you have questions or would be interested in a Lunch and Learn about any of the topics covered, feel free to reach out to our presenters!

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One Response to “ADA Ramp Compliance”

June 13, 2020 at 12:59 pm, Sharie said:

Excellent short presentation. Love to see more. Thanks

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