Are Your Business Premises Compliant with the ADA?
The Continuing Obligation of Readily Achievable Barrier Removal
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public accommodations to provide goods and services to individuals with disabilities on an equal basis with the general public. The regulations require that architectural and communication barriers must be removed in areas of public accommodation at "existing" facilities (facilities constructed prior to 1992) when their removal is readily achievable—in other words, easily accomplished and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. If your facility was constructed prior to 1992, you still have an obligation to remove barriers, as no "grandfathering" clauses exist in the ADA.
By hiring a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) that is a member of CASI you can get an accessibility inspection and a detailed report with information on what barriers exist at your facility along with the standard for compliance so that you can remove such barriers to provide for an accessible environment.
The ADA Standards should be followed for all barrier removal unless doing so is not readily achievable. If site or structural constraints limit complying with the ADA Standards, you may undertake a modification that does not fully comply, as long as it poses no health or safety risk. Furthermore, bringing all of your facility in compliance at one time may not be readily achievable. In order to document which items for compliance are not readily achievable, a plan for compliance should be established only after consulting with a design professional (architect or engineer), a construction professional, an attorney and an accountant.
Steps toward compliance should include:
1) A survey of your facility by a CASI CASp
2) Design and documentation for compliance items requiring documentation by a design professional (architect or engineer)
3) An estimate for correction of items not in compliance based on documentation provided by the design professional
4) An annual budget for barrier removal based on the estimate
5) A schedule for barrier removal based on priority items and the established budget
If you have removed barriers in accordance with the 1991 ADA Accessibility Standards, rest assured. The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards has a safe harbor policy stating that barrier removal compliant with the 1991 Accessibility ADA Standards and completed prior to March 15, 2012 is not required to come into compliance with the 2010 Accessibility ADA Standards.
Hire a CASI CASp today and plan your path towards compliance.