For more than ten (10) years the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has prohibited discrimination against disabled persons.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act - Prohibits employment discrimination against disabled persons. Title I of the ADA requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act – Prohibits disability discrimination against disabled constituents by state and local governments. Title II requires public accommodations and government entities to make reasonable modifications to their policies and procedures when necessary to provide goods and services to the disabled.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act - Prohibits disability discrimination against the disabled public by accommodations such as fast-food establishments, theaters and other public buildings. Title III requires public accommodations, government entities and public buildings to meet and make -- "readily achievable," "reasonable modification" access to their facilities. As a general rule, existing architectural barriers and their alternatives are governed by the relatively-lenient readily achievable standard. Barriers to communication -- which may require auxiliary services such as an interpreter or text-telephones -- are governed by the undue burden defense. Everything else, such as whether to permit guide dogs in a restaurant or allow golf carts on an exclusive course, is governed by the reasonable modification standard.
The New Construction Standard
Under Titles II and III, all commercial and government facilities built after January 26, 1992 must comply with the new construction standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. Any building alteration performed after this time is potentially subject to the same rules, as well as a requirement that a "path of travel" be provided to the area of alteration.
To say the new construction standards are specific is an understatement. A water fountain, for example, must have a clear space between it and the floor of at least 27 inches in height, 30 inches in width, and 17 inches in depth. The spout can be no higher than 36 inches, and the water flowing from it must extend up an additional four. Controls can be either front mounted or side mounted (though near the front edge). There any many other requirements for fountains, and there are similar specifications for virtually every other part of a facility: toilets, doorways, ramps, aisles, walkways, counters, parking spaces, telephones, seating, etceteras. In most cases, there is either an apparent violation or not, depending on the specifications (though an entity can always argue that the existing condition is an "equivalent facilitation.") Given the number of regulations and the degree of their specificity, it is not difficult to find an apparent violation.
Our law firm can assist you in this very complex area of the law.
Click on the website links below to learn more information about Discrimination:
U.S. Dept. of Justice-ADA Homepage
ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings