The ADA…Accessibility for Everyone
With the complexities of ADA covering everything from service animals to disabilities, there is one section often overlooked, but crucial for Public Entity compliance. So, let’s focus on “accessibility” compliance. We see issues arise with new construction and infrastructure renovation projects, including but not limited to, buildings, sidewalks, parking lots, etc.
Title II of the ADA applies to State and local governments, including towns and townships, school districts, water districts, special purpose districts, and other small local governments and municipalities. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all services, programs, and activities provided by towns. Thus, people with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from a town’s services, programs, and activities. To accomplish this, the ADA sets requirements for town facilities, new construction and alterations, communications with the public, and policies and procedures governing town programs, services, and activities. This is basic “accessibility”.
ADA requirements for new construction have been in effect since January 1992. New buildings and facilities must comply with the new construction provisions of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (without the elevator exemption) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). This requirement includes facilities that are open to the public and those that are for use by employees.
Alterations and Additions
When a building or facility is renovated or altered or added to for any purpose, the alterations or additions must comply with the ADA Standards. In general, the alteration provisions are the same as the new construction requirements, except that deviations are permitted when it is not technically feasible to comply. Additions are considered an alteration, but the addition must follow the new construction requirements. When existing structural and other conditions make it impossible to meet all the alteration requirements of the ADA Standards, then they should be followed to the greatest extent possible.
Each entity with 50 or more employees is required to have an ADA Coordinator, Grievance Procedure, Self-Evaluations, and Transition Plans in place to be compliant. The information above is explained in greater detail and provided in these very helpful links below.
ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments
ADA Guide for Small Towns
ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments
By Steve Gailbreath, Loss Prevention Consultant, PRM