ADA: Accessibility Surveys

  February 22, 2010

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is accessibility surveys.

How can facility managers avoid litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Truthfully, nothing can guarantee an organization will not be sued under the ADA. But doing nothing certainly increases the odds it will occur. If the organization has not performed a comprehensive ADA evaluation of its facilities, now is the time to do it. The survey process should include these components:

  • An on-site evaluation and report based on enforceable ADA standards. The evaluation should cover the exterior of the property, including path of travel from the street, public transportation, parking, and sidewalks. The interior review should include all areas to which visitors, customers or vendors need access.

  • Recommendations for removing barriers. Not all barrier removal requires demolition and reconstruction. Look for answers that address policies and procedures, as well as creative approaches to barrier removal.

  • Use the recommendations as the basis for an ADA compliance plan. Add critical information, such as resources needed to make the modifications, projected dates for completion, and remedial steps facilities can take on the way to full accessibility.

  • Ensure design professionals are engaged for the remedial steps, if they are familiar with and understand the requirements of enforceable ADA standards. Make that participation a provision in the standard contract language.

  • Hire an ADA consultant to review design documents before completion and handover to the construction team. This step can ensure full compliance with ADA standards.

  • Document changes with photos and measurements.

  • Finally, consider bringing the consultant back to evaluate renovations or new-construction projects during punch-list time. Gaps often form between what might have been designed as compliant and the end result. This contract-warranty review provides critical information managers can use to identify the person responsible for remedying the errors or omissions.


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