Are you ADA compliant? 3 myths that need to be dispelled now
e’ve been living with industry changes brought on by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for more than 30 years. The Federal Civil Rights law requires that goods and services available to the public also are accessible to the more than 60 million Americans with documented or recognized disabilities. It is not only a concern for places of public accommodation and commercial facilities, but for all businesses and yet, ADA myths persist. While most business owners and facilities managers know of ADA, misinformation is common. Do you own a building or a business that is open to the public? If you answered yes, then do you know the accessibility standards to which you must adhere to be in ADA compliance? Do you know which is the building owner’s or business owner’s responsibility when it comes to ADA compliance? Are your lease documents clear on this point? How about the age of the property, do you think that relieves you of certain ADA compliance requirements?
By Mick Lowenthal & Melissa Middleton
There are other regulations. The International Building Code (IBC) and other state-adopted building codes such as the California Building Code (CBC) contain construction-related disabled access provisions or specify additional references such as ANSI A117.1, which specifies the minimum requirements for both commercial and residential construction and/ or alterations. But it is important to note that state and local governing bodies do not enforce federal regulations such as the ADA. The enduring ADA myths are many, but among the most common are these three. Know what is true about these and you will understand the value of re-examining your potentially costly assumptions about ADA compliance.
My building or business is old and grandfathered in and does not need to comply with any disabled access provisions.
The bottom line: There is no such thing as an ADA grandfather clause. The term “grandfather” is a passed-down assumption that ADA standards do not apply to buildings that were built prior to the law’s signing in 1990. This is a false claim. If you provide goods and services to the general public, you must adhere to the ADA standards regardless of the age or the historical importance of the building. The grandfather myth may be confused with a “safe harbor” provision in the 2010 regulations for businesses and state and local governments. All the safe harbor provides for is that you do not have to make modifications to elements in a building that comply with the 1991 ADA Standards even if the 2010 regulations have different requirements for them (unless you make an alteration to the building elements). Your building or business still must comply with the older 1991 ADA standards for accessible design. The ADA National Network website explains https://adata.org/ faq/my-building-grandfathered-under-olderada-standards-or-do-i-need-comply-new2010-ada-standards.
I’m only the tenant and not liable. The building owner is fully responsible for all ADA violations. The bottom line: If you provide goods and services in the US, to the general public, including, but not limited to parking spaces, path of travel to the entrance, sales and service counter heights, aisle width between clothing racks, gas stations pumps, public restrooms, etc., the lessor and lessee both are responsible and liable for the accessibility elements, features and functions located on the site. It is recommended that the lease agreement between the lessor and the lessee clearly identifies who is responsible for providing and the maintenance of existing site elements, features and functions. In 2016, California passed a law, AB-2093, that affects commercial property
COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION & RENOVATION — ISSUE 9, 2021