Americans with Disabilities Act

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Americans with Disabilities Act

Legislation in the United States, passed in 1990, that extended civil rights laws to persons who are physically disabled. Among other provisions, it requires facilities to accommodate the disabled insofar as it is possible. Businesses must comply with the Act when they build or expand their buildings. For example, most new commercial buildings with steps are required to provide access for persons who use wheelchairs.
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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A federal law that grants civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

• Real estate: The Act is most relevant in its provisions regarding public accommodation. Responsibility for compliance is placed on both landlords and tenants, as well as other property owners. Many commercial leases allocate the burden of ADA compliance so that the tenant must pay for any alterations or improvements necessary to bring a property into compliance.

• Places of public accommodation: These include a wide range of entities, such as restau- rants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt.

• Accessibility for existing properties: Steps must be taken to remove barriers, if it can be done easily and without much expense. The evaluation of the expense depends on the size and financial strength of the entity.

• Accessibility requirements when a property undergoes alteration or renovation: For example, if during renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility. When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided. The bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving that area must also be made accessible. These additional accessibility alterations are only required to the extent that the added accessibility costs do not exceed 20 percent of the cost of the original alteration.

• Accessibility in new construction: The ADA requires that all new construction of places of public accommodation, as well as of “commercial facilities” such as office buildings, be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.

• Litigation: Private individuals may bring lawsuits to obtain injunctive relief to force compliance with the ADA and recover their attorneys' fees for the litigation, but may not obtain money damages. Citizens may also file complaints with the United States attorney general, who is authorized to bring lawsuits in cases of general public importance or where a pattern of discrimination is alleged. The suit can ask for money damages and civil penalties.

• The official ADA Web site is

The Complete Real Estate Encyclopedia by Denise L. Evans, JD & O. William Evans, JD. Copyright © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Since 2015, U C Berkeley's Educational Technology Services department has employed its own Course Capture service, which meets accessibility standards such as closed captioning or audio narration when necessary.
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He is active in community organizations, notably the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons and was appointed to chair the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council at the Ontario Legislature in December 2005.
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The directory also contains important information about the four major national standards that govern accessible design and are referenced in the laws that guide the industry: 1) ANSI Standard A117.1; 2) Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards; 3) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines; and 4) the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines.

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