June 10, 2021
The Justice Department today reached a single agreement with nineteen building owners in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia who rent space in their buildings to stores and restaurants. The agreement requires the owners to fix their buildings so that people with mobility disabilities, like wheelchair users, can get in the door to shop or eat. Physical barriers, like steps at an entrance, can keep people with disabilities out and cause discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Justice Department inspected three buildings on 14th Street N.W., in Washington, D.C., to see if people with disabilities could enter the businesses renting space there. Two of the buildings had steps at the entrances and one did not have enough space at the entrance for wheelchair users to open the door and go in on their own.
The building owners agreed to hire an architect to check their nineteen buildings in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to make sure the buildings can be used by people with disabilities. The owners agreed to fix any problems by the end of next year. Possible fixes are adding a ramp where there are steps or putting in an automatic door opener when there is not enough space for wheelchair users. Fixing the buildings is an important step toward providing people with mobility disabilities an equal opportunity to shop and dine at the stores and restaurants inside.
The ADA requires stores and restaurants located in new buildings to make sure the spaces their customers use in those buildings are useable by people with disabilities, such as those who use wheelchairs. If a business is located in an older building, the business must make sure barriers to people with disabilities are removed when it is easy to do. And if a business makes changes to a building, those changed areas must be made useable as much as possible. These rules also apply to the companies that own the buildings that they rent to businesses like stores and restaurants.
Read the full press release here.
For more information on the ADA or this agreement, please visit ADA.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 800-514-0383).
Article Credit: U.S. Department of Justice
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