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.

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

References in periodicals archive ?
Scope: Proposals Are Requested For The Following Disciplines: Architecture Including Architectural Design, Handicap Accessibility, Roofing, Sustainable Design, Architectural Restoration, And Historic Rehabilitation.
The Elizabeth Branch completed an $8 million renovation project in 2013, providing handicap accessibility, complete building renovations and upgrades including multiple Health and Wellness Centers, new equipment, free member wifi and expanded and renovated residence facilities.
However, opponents say the building is structurally sound, and with a new heating system, asbestos removal ($25,000 is already approved for that purpose), and handicap accessibility improvements, the building can continue to function as useful space for the town, potentially as a senior center, community center, cultural center or public meeting place.
Rebuilding Together is a non-profit organization that has worked for over 30 years to provide repairs and handicap accessibility to homes owned by low-income elderly, disabled, and families with small children.
The mix of projects encompasses small and large houses; one-story and multi-story houses; and ideas for general accessibility and comfort as well as some targeted more directly at handicap accessibility.
The project, which officials say is on schedule, includes new plaster and tile finish, new pool decking, a dual main drain system, new pool floor inlets, gutter repair, new pool handrails and handicap accessibility upgrades.
A triple whammy of stricter federal safety regulations, handicap accessibility mandates, and injury lawsuits gradually removes swing sets from the nation's playgrounds.
Broadway Medical Adult Daycare Center plans to open its impressive new 10,500-SF center in March after it completes necessary upgrades, including complete handicap accessibility.
Chapelridge of Fort Smith also offers its tenants wall-to-wall carpeting, handicap accessibility, cable-ready rooms and exterior storage rooms.
The building department is working to find key access Points to a block of buildings to insure handicap accessibility with economic reasonability.
The landscape architect should be familiar with local and state codes and handicap accessibility ordinances.
The renovation will include living units sized to match resident needs and reconfigured apartments for handicap accessibility.