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March 2003

Protruding Objects

What do the people in the photographs and illustrations that follow have in common? Yes, each is about to walk into and maybe be hurt by a protruding object.

Visitors and staff with and without visual disabilities want to move about your science center or museum knowing that you have checked for objects that hang too low, are too far off the ground, or extend too far into walks, halls, corridors, passageways, and aisles. (ADA Standard 4.4 )

Three people behind a low hanging branch. On a sidewalk outside the museum entrance, these visitors are about to be smacked by low-hanging branches. The minimum headroom clearance for circulation routes, inside or outside, is 80 inches. In this case, the museum trimmed low branches and instituted a routine maintenance check of all sidewalks and trails.

Women with guide dog.This photo shows three visitors and a guide dog standing behind movable stanchions typically used in museums, movie theaters, and airports to keep people in line. Just before the photo was taken, the guide dog walked under the stanchions, pulling them down with her. Fortunately, no one was hurt, just surprised. Stanchions and freestanding signs are hazards if their bottom edge is higher than 27 inches. If lower than 27 inches, a cane user and a guide dog can detect and avoid them.

A woman with a cane approaching a hanging display case. This illustration shows how cane users often use a wall as a "shoreline" to orient themselves as they walk. In this instance, the cane user cannot detect a large display case that is attached to the wall. Cases, water fountains, telephones, fire extinguishers, and similar objects are hazards if they protrude more than 4 inches from the wall and their bottom edges are higher than 27 inches from the floor.

As you survey your facility, be sure to check telephones and drinking fountains as well as cases, signs, and stanchions. Telephones and drinking fountains are considered protruding objects if they extend 4 inches into the path of travel and their bottom edge is higher than 27 inches. The two illustrations that follow may be helpful to your situation.

Wing walls were added to either side of this drinking fountain to make it safe for passersby. Drinking fountain with walls on either side. Movable potted plants are only a temporary solution. When moved, the original hazard remains. Fixed planters are an option. Man with cane approaching planter on floor.

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National Science Foundation LogoAccessible Practices EXCHANGE is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. ESI-9814917 and HRD 9906095. Opinions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and presenters and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation.
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ASTC is not responsible for the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The information presented here is intended solely as informal guidance, and is neither a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the ADA, nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA. This web site is not intended to offer legal, architectural, engineering, or similar professional advice. You should refer specific questions to an attorney, and/or national, state, and local ADA authorities.
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