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Facilities Accessibility and ADA

maintenance management, ADA

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, facilities accessibility and ADA.
Nearly 20 years ago, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among its goals is to improve accessibility to institutional and commercial facilities for people with disabilities.
A string of recent high-profile actions demonstrate that, while many facilities have made changes, many other have a ways to go.
In March, the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with the University of Michigan regarding the lack of accessible seating in the university’s football stadium. Under the settlement, the university will add at least 248 permanent wheelchair seats and 248 companion seats during the next two years. By the 2010 season, the university agreed to add at least 329 pairs of wheelchair and companion seats throughout the stadium.
Last November, the department reached an agreement with the owners and operators of Madison Square Garden to improve that facility’s accessibility. They agreed to provide expanded seating accessible by fans using wheelchairs.
By this October, the Garden will have 48 more wheelchair and companion seats and another 40 accessible aisle seats throughout the arena. Also, they will remove hundreds of architectural barriers along the routes between the entrances and the newly accessible seats.
Finally, three major New York City hotels — the Courtyard by Marriott Times Square, the Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square, and the Hilton New York Towers — have agreed to improve accessibility for customers.
All three hotels agreed to survey designated accessible rooms and make necessary modifications to comply with the ADA standards. They also agreed more accessible guest rooms among classes of sleeping accommodations and implement a written policy to provide service to persons with disabilities covering reservations of accessible guest rooms, service animals, and modifications in policies and procedures.
For more information, visit the Access Board Web site, www.access-board.gov, or the Department of Justices ADA site, www.ada.gov.

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