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A Brief Overview for Business Owners on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Liberty Tech Center

Back in June, we discussed ADA Accessibility – What is it and how does it affect your business? This month we would like to provide more specific information about this standard and also point out some changes between the original 1990 ADA and the new 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which went into effect March 15, 2012.

There is a Safe Harbor clause in the 2010 Standards which states that existing buildings conforming to the 1990 ADAAG do not have to be updated to meet the new 2010 standards until the building is undergoing an alteration of the primary functions (such as office areas, meeting rooms, dining areas, etc.).

If you do alter primary function spaces, then you must spend up to 20% of the alteration cost on making the existing building accessible. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on your alteration, you must spend up to $20,000 on the accessibility upgrade. There are priorities of where to spend the 20%, but you never have to spend more than 20%.

The list of priorities are:

  • Entry ways

  • Hallways and corridors

  • Bathroom/drinking fountain access

  • Parking lots

If you only remodel bathrooms (which are not a primary function), then you do not have to spend up to the 20%.

The Safe Harbor does not apply to items that were not originally covered in the 1990 standards, such as recreation facilities, play areas and children’s environments.

A few items to note which have changed or are new include:

  • In Missouri, one in four accessible parking spaces must be van accessible (ADA standards only require one in six).

  • Knee clearance height underneath sinks is now 27” above finish floor instead of 29”.

  • Unobstructed forward and side reach height is now maximum 48” instead of 54”.

  • Stages must have an accessible route such as a ramp or lift from the seating area to the stage.

  • 60% of public entrances must be accessible (previously 50%).

  • 10% of visitor and patient parking spaces to serve hospital outpatient facilities must be accessible parking spaces.

  • 20% of visitor and patient parking spaces at rehabilitation facilities (specializing in treating conditions that affect mobility) and outpatient physical therapy facilities must be accessible parking spaces.

  • The bottom extension of handrails at stairs must only extend one tread depth beyond the last riser (previously handrails had to extend 12” plus one tread depth).

  • In motels and hotels, the vanity countertop in accessible guestroom bathrooms is required to be equivalent to the vanity countertop in non-accessible guestroom bathrooms. For instance, if the countertop is 5 feet long in the non-accessible bathrooms, it must be 5 feet long in the accessible bathrooms.

There are a multitude of guidelines which a facility open to the public must adhere to under the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). These are not commonplace knowledge for most people, and it can be confusing. Furthermore, since ADA is regulated in the Federal Courts, there is the possibility that a disabled person could hire an attorney and file suit against you in Federal Court alleging that they were discriminated against due to the way your facility is built. That is a very expensive proposition, so it is important that you be proactive in addressing your facility’s compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.

If you have questions regarding your facility’s current accessibility, or need help with renovating your current facility to meet ADA guidelines, call Geoffrey Butler, AIA at 417-865-6100.

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