Understanding the American's With Disabilities Act
"Sometimes, we work so hard to change a person
when, what they really need from us is to
help them remove the barriers blocking them from changing themselves."
Accessibility is more than just a ramp or a lever
door handle. Accessibility means the opportunity for any person, having
a disability or not, to access any building or any person within that
Signed into law on January 26, 1990 the Americans
with Disabilities Act or ADA is the most comprehensive civil rights
law designed and enacted to prohibit discrimination against people with
Of the 5 various Titles governing the laws, each
designed to address various forms of discrimination, Title III of the
ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities
operating places of "public accommodation" and affects access
to businesses, transportation, service providers, and telecommunications.
Businesses of all types and sizes were now required
to remove barriers in existing facilities and comply with the new federal
guidelines. While this seems simple enough, implementation of the law
would prove arduous at best. Comprehensive in its size and scope and
equipped with the new Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility
Guidelines (ADAAG), the law has been immensely misinterpreted and its
application egregiously applied.
The sad reality is that many business and/or property
owners have spent considerably more time looking into loopholes that
would potentially exempt them from having to make improvements rather
than taking the steps to evaluate and improve the accessibility of their
facilities. Moreover, lacking any direct enforcement during the past
20 years - the prevailing attitude and persistent misinterpretation
of the law has become increasingly infectious.
The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design
are a revision of the 1991 Access Board Guidelines. These changes include
additional sections that cover recreation facilities and play areas as
well as changes to some of the
guidelines related to specific elements and/or businesses.
this link to read more about the changes affecting
recreationalfacilities and play areas
or call us at 804-389-2479 to learn
more about how these new changes may or may not affect your business .
Intended to provide access to public buildings and
facilities the ADA was thought to apply only to post-1990 construction
or older buildings undergoing significant or structural remodeling.
However the ADA requires that any public accommodation "shall remove
architectural barriers in existing facilities, including communication
barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily
achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without
much difficulty or expense."
Many municipal building inspectors will admit that
they know little to nothing about the ADA and much to the dissuasion
of many well-intentioned business owners who have learned the hard way;
the ADA does not contain a "grandfather" provision. Most state
codes do provide such a provision however the difference between the
two codes is rarely addressed by local building officials.
To determine all of the requirements which potentially
affect your business, it may be necessary to refer to the regulations,
guidelines, and/or technical assistance materials developed by other
federal Agencies with ADA Responsibilities such as, the Department of
Justice (DOJ), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the
Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance
Board (the Access Board).
For more information
on the American's with Disabilities Act go to
more on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, go to