How Disability Laws Affect You

By: J. Norman Stark, Attorney, Architect Emeritus (OH) A.I.A., N.C.A.R.B.

ADA – THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (42 U.S.C. § 12101), enacted in 1990, became the Federal Law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This protection for all individuals with disabilities, extends to all public and private places open to the general public, including office buildings and multi-family rental properties.

Among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures access to the built environment for people with disabilities. The ADA Standards establish design requirements for the construction and alteration of facilities subject to the law. These enforceable standards apply to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.

The Access Board is responsible for developing and updating design guidelines known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). These guidelines are used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) in setting enforceable standards that the public must follow. Both DOJ’s and DOT’s current ADA Standards are based on the Board’s updated ADAAG (2004). These two sets of standards are very similar.

However, each contains additional requirements that are specific to the facilities covered by the respective agencies. These additional requirements define the types of facilities covered, set effective dates, and provide additional scoping or technical requirements for those facilities.

DOJ’s ADA Standards apply to all facilities except public transportation facilities, which are subject to DOT’s ADA Standards. The edition of the ADA Standards on the Board’s website includes DOJ’s and DOT’s additional provisions.

Owners and managers of real property, whether private, municipal, or state-owned, are again urged to comply with the specific ADA requirements for their properties in order to avoid the emotional and financial consequences and penalties that may be imposed for non-compliance with these important provisions of law. Consult legal counsel for advice and assistance.





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Author: The Construction Claims Investigation Worklist®