ADA: Comprehensive Compliance

  March 18, 2015

The life cycle of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for institutional and commercial facilities consists of three separate and equally important components: design it right, construct it right, and maintain it right. Maintenance and engineering managers should consider these common-sense steps to ensure their facilities adhere to these components.

First, managers must ensure that an inspector has evaluated barriers in the existing facility. Then, put together a plan to remove any barriers to access. If this step has not been completed, it still is not too late. But do not wait for a complaint or lawsuit to happen.

Second, they must ensure that all plans for renovations, remodeling projects, alterations and new construction fully comply with the ADA standards, as well as with the applicable building code requirements. And if a building code provides for a greater degree of accessibility, that will supersede the federal standards.

Third, check and double-check for any potential problems such as these:
• Have handrails and grab bars started to become loose?
• Do sidewalks, ramps and other walking surfaces have cracks, changes in level or other interruptions?
• Does the cleaning staff place garbage cans next to the doors in restrooms?
• Do employees fill the aisles of retail facilities with displays?

These are but a few examples of ways the placement of movable items or objects can create barriers to individuals with disabilities in facilities that probably were designed to be in compliance.

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