4 FM quick reads on accessibility
1. ADA Compliance: Important Dates
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, new ADA regulations.
The U.S. Department of Justice in July announced the adoption of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. It is important facility managers understand several key dates related to the use and enforcement of the new standards.
The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and the Title III Final Rule Amending 28 CFR Part 36: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 15, 2010. That created the following enforcement dates:
• March 15, 2011 — the rules become effective.
• March 15, 2012 — all renovations, new construction and readily achievable barrier removal, not already performed, must comply with the 2010 standards.
Between Sept. 15, 2010 and March 15, 2012, facilities can choose between the 1991 standards and the 2010 standards. But organizations must complete all barrier-removal by March 14, 2012, if not using the 1991 standards. Those areas then become a safe harbor under the 2010 ADA standards. When a manager chooses to use either the 1991 standards or the 2010 standards, the entire building then must comply with that standard.
It also is essential managers understand the impact of these dates on design or construction for alterations and new buildings.
Projects begun under the 1991 standards must comply with those standards.
Projects completed recently under the 1991 standards do not require changes.
For projects that will be completed before March 14, 2012, managers must determine which standard will be more beneficial to comply with. For the 1991 standard, organizations must complete all construction by March 14, 2012.
2. When ADA Calls: Responding to a Complaint
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, responding to an ADA notification.
If an institutional or commercial facility receives notification of a violation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that means either a complaint has been filed in federal court or, the U.S. Department of Justice has received a complaint or is investigating the facility.
The best reaction is to read or listen to what the notification says, particularly if it came from the DOJ. If a facility receives a complaint filed in court, read the allegations as just that — allegations. An individual with a disability might make allegations that are not actually violations under the ADA.
Managers also need to evaluate the facility before responding or agreeing to a settlement in order to understand the facility's status regarding ADA requirements. Do not jump into a settlement with the individual or group by agreeing to remedy only the items they identified because they probably have not identified all issues. In that scenario, the next complaint filed with items other than those the facility agreed to correct becomes a new complaint.
Review the entire facility, put a plan together, and start the corrections so that when the next complaint or question arises, an answer and a plan are ready and available.
3. ADA: Renovations and Requirements
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, facility renovations and ADA.
Maintenance and engineering managers undertaking renovations in institutional and commercial facilities need to be aware of the impact on the project of requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.
The requirements for readily achievable barrier removal under ADA began Jan. 26, 1992, and have continued since then. Organizations must remove barriers, with a few exceptions, regardless of any work being done.
Anytime a facility undergoes renovations where access barriers exist, the organization must spend 20 percent of the construction costs on removing these barriers from the path of travel. For ADA purposes, the path of travel includes water fountains and restrooms. Any renovation to a primary function area triggers this requirement. The phrase primary function area applies to an area where the activities are germane to the business, such as a bank's teller stations.
As with the model building code — The International Building Code and the American National Standards Institute — ADA does not require barrier removal on the path of travel that exceeds 20 percent of the cost of the renovation. The major difference in this regard between ADA requirements and building codes is that the ADA requires barrier removal in existing buildings, regardless of renovations. Building codes do not come into play until renovations, alterations or new construction occurs.
Managers can find more specific information in the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, Sec.36.403 Alterations: Path of travel. ADA guidelines typically supersede a state or local building code, unless the code provides for greater or equal protection of individuals with disabilities.
4. Water Conservation: Low-Flow Faucets
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, common ADA violations.
Twenty years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, institutional and commercial facilities continue to struggle in their efforts to comply with ADA's accessibility guidelines. Here is a look at the more common ADA violations still found in facilities.
In the built environment, violations range from curb ramps and ramps that are too steep, to a lack of parking with a marked access aisle and signage. Ground markings are not effective because they are not visible at night or when covered with snow.
In restrooms, the most common violations involve toilets not mounted the correct distance from walls or partitions, and toilet flush valves on the wrong side. If the flush valve is on the wide side, users must reach over the toilet to flush.
In facility operations, the most common violations include these:
• Housekeeping workers placing a garbage can next to the restroom exit door. Clear space next to door gives a person using a wheelchair enough space to approach the door, reach the door handle and open the door.
• Placing garbage cans directly in front of call buttons for elevators, again impeding the progress of someone in a wheelchair or using a walker to reach the buttons.
• Mounting objects on walls that project 4 inches or more from the wall. If the objects are 27-80 inches from the floor, someone with a visual disability will miss the item on a cane sweep and walk right into the object.
The structural and design violations result from not following, understanding or paying attention to the ADA guideline and relying solely on building code and code officials. The operational violations, although not permanent or fixed items covered under the ADA guidelines, still create barriers.