Archive for February, 2010

ADA Requirements for Clearance in Front of Bathtubs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Question: What is the clear floor space required in front of a bathtub?

This is one of these subtle changes we see in moving from the old to the new.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities written by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) and published July 26, 1991; Section 4.20 Bathtubs / 4.20.2 Floor Space are stating, “Clear floor space in front of bathtubs shall be as shown in Figure 33.” Figure 33 shows a 60 inch minimum dimension. This dimension is the same dimension as found in Figure 33 of ANSI A117.1-1986. The ANSI A117.1-1986 was written before 1985, some 25 years ago.

The ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule, written by the Access Board and published July 23, 2004, with an effective date of September 21, 2004; in Section 607 Bathtubs / 607.2 Clearance states, “Clearance in front of bathtubs shall extend the length of the bathtub and shall be 30 inches wide minimum.” Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.

ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 Section 607.2 Bathtubs / 607.2 Clearance states, “A clearance in front of bathtubs extending the length of the bathtub and 30 inches minimum in depth shall be provided.” Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.

The challenge today is that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to litigate compliance to PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), from its standard. The DOJ is in the process of making the July 23, 2004 document its standard, but until that happens, the DOJ is using the July 26, 1991 document, which was made the DOJ standard on July 1, 1994.

The people at ACCESS have specialized in accessibility compliance for the last 16 years and are of the opinion that the ADA is a reasonable act and is ruled upon by federal judges.

With that understanding by ACCESS, the 60 inch minimum dimension of 25 years ago is not applicable today.

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Increasing Non-Compliance to the Civil Rights Laws of the ADA

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Non-compliance to the Civil Rights Laws of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is increasing.  After 20 years, one has to ask the question why.  The answer is found in the Americans with Disabilities Act – Title III – Regulation 36.505, Attorney Fees:

“In any action or administrative proceeding commenced pursuant to the Act or this part, the court or agency, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee, including litigation expenses, and costs, and the United States shall be liable for the forgoing the same as a private individual.”

The words, “…a reasonable attorney’s fee, including litigation expenses, and costs,” are the answer.  Attorneys have honed their skills and we now see attorney practices who specialize in filing ADA non-compliance suits.  The work product in these filings is very good and really gets the attention of the owners and their legal staff.  98% of these filings are settled out of court, so once again, attorneys collect and owners pay.  Some of these attorney practices are extremely lucrative and are generating lots of interest.  So, expect to see more litigation in the years to come.

As a business owner, what is your exposure to ADA non-compliance litigation?  ACCESS has programs that are proactive, whereas after a lawsuit is filed one has few options.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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705 Detectable Warnings

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule of July 23, 2004, is silent in Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements concerning detectable warnings. The Final Rule in section 406.1 addresses curb ramps but is also silent with regards to complying with section 705 Detectable Warnings. For detectable warnings, the “safe harbor” for design and construction to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be found in the Revised Draft Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way of November 23, 2005. The Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way are prepared by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board), who are responsible for writing the “safe harbor.”

In the opinion of ACCESS, the definition of a Right-of-Way is a street. A street is designed to carry vehicular traffic. Traffic flows in a lane or lanes at various speeds. The purpose of detectable warnings is to alert visually impaired individuals that they are about to step into a vehicular way and cross a vehicular way. Therefore, in the opinion of ACCESS, it does not matter if the vehicular way or street is public or private. Also, in the opinion of ACCESS, the traffic lane in a parking lot is not a vehicular way or street.

The above is civil rights law. Consultants and government agencies can render opinions on civil rights law. In the opinion of ACCESS, federal judges will look to consultants and governments for their rulings.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS). See our web site for additional information: www.accessts.net.

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