ADA and Common-Sense Steps

  February 9, 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. 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 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, ensure that plans for renovations, remodeling projects, alterations and new construction fully comply with the 2010 ADA standards, as well as with the applicable building code requirements. And remember that if a building code provides for a greater degree of accessibility, the code supersedes the federal standards.

Third, check and double-check for 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 rest rooms?
• 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.

ADA compliance does not have to be expensive, difficult or ugly. Creating and maintaining a user-friendly facility enables visitors and occupants to enter and move about facilities without barriers or potential injuries. Managers need to make the decision to do the right thing, the smart thing and the thing that will get the organization a return on its investment.

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