One area of the ADA that seems to be a significant source of confusion is the requirements for existing facilities. As an ADA contractor, we often come across building owners under the impression that the ADA only applies to properties built after the law was enacted in 1990. However, this is not necessarily the case. There is still a requirement that existing facilities remove barriers to accessibility.
Let’s take a closer look at the circumstance in which barrier removals are expected of existing facilities and how an ADA contractor can help you achieve them.
The ADA & Existing Facilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA as it is more commonly referred to, is a federal statute designed to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities. The act has five separate titles, and one we are most interested in as an ADA contractor is Title III which requires any private entity operating a place of public accommodation or a commercial facility to make it accessible to people with disabilities. Any new construction and remodeling work to these facilities must meet the ADA requirements for accessible design.
So, what about existing facilities that were already built before 1990? Title III also states that discrimination also includes a failure to remove architectural barriers unless proven that it is not ‘readily achievable for the business or building owner. For the purposes of the ADA, the term readily achievable means it should be easy to accomplish without too much difficulty or expense. Of course, this varies for every business, and an ADA contractor can help you with the factors that would be considered. These are also outlined in 42 U.S.C. Section 12181(9).
The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design discusses the statutory requirements for the removal of architectural barriers in existing facilities, including 21 examples of what would be considered readily achievable barrier removal (Source: C.F.R. Section 36.304). These examples include things like:
- Making curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances
- Adding raised markings on elevator control buttons
- Installing accessible door hardware
- Widening doors or installing offset hinges to widen doorways
- Creating designated accessible parking spaces
- Removing turnstiles or providing an alternative access path
- Installing ramps
These readily achievable barrier removal examples can be carried out reasonably easily with help from an ADA contractor.
Safe Harbor Provision
Another element of ADA Title III that applies to existing facilities is the safe harbor provision. This states that if a facility or any of its elements were built or altered prior to March 15, 2012, to comply with the original 1991 Standards for Accessible Design, then it need not be changed to meet the updated 2010 standards. However, if the existing element did not meet the 1991 standards, it must be modified if readily achievable according to the 2010 standards.
If you have an existing facility that predates the introduction of the ADA in 1990, we can assist you as your ADA contractor in order to ensure that your property is compliant where it needs to be. Don’t wait for that lawsuit!
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Why Wait to be "Forced" into ADA Compliance. If you are a public business or public property owner, save money, lawsuits, time and headaches by being prepared and avoiding it all in the first place. It’s time to call in the ADA pros. Use Protrk, an ADA construction expert, to Get it Done Right Prior to Forced Compliance.
Call 415-813-9877 today or visit www.protrkconstruction.com for more details.