Archive for April, 2010

Does your product meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or the recent Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

This is a wake-up call for all businesses with a product!!!  Hire an accessibility consultant like Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS) for your product accessibility, or wait for the federal government specific product standards; the general standards are already in place… It’s your choice!  ACCESS has a product accessibility program with a statement saying, “Certification of product [specific product] to be accessible based on the accessibility requirements as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, in the opinion of ACCESS.  ACCESS is a known leader in accessibility compliance with over 16 years of experience in this highly specialized field.

The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (PL110-325), which became effective on January 1, 2009, requires in Chapter 126 equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.  This means that all products must be designed and manufactured to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.  An example is medical diagnostic equipment.  When complaints came to the U.S. Department of Justice that medical diagnostic equipment was not being designed to be accessible, congress got involved and passed the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and directed the Access Board to develop specific accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment.

Attorneys throughout the country are looking for “deep pockets,” and they are honing their civil rights law skills as they file lawsuits for non-compliance to the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Call us and use ACCESS for your product accessibility compliance program.  We are at your service!

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How does a property owner “win” non-compliance litigation?

Monday, April 19th, 2010

1.   The first line of defense is to have an accessibility audit that will identify all accessibility non-compliance items.

2.   Second, prioritize all the non-compliance items as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

3.   Third, appropriate monies to eliminate the non-compliance items.

4.   Fourth, establish a timetable in years to eliminate the non compliant items.

In the opinion of ACCESS, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a reasonable law; therefore, for each of the four above items, one must ask the question, “Is it reasonable?”  We at ACCESS suggest a five year timeline.  The five year plan can be adjusted when monies are not available.

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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DOJ Adoption of 2004 ADAAG – Progress Report

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Everyone is asking:  when will the U.S. Department of Justice adopt the July 2004 ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule as its standard?  IT IS COMING!!!

The DOJ’s liaison to the Access Board reported that the DOJ has made “quite a lot of progress” on the various stages of internal review and approval. The draft final regulation has not been submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is the final step.  This final step can take up to 90 – 120 days to complete.

DOJ anticipates issuing its final regulation before the end of the current fiscal year, which concludes on September 30, 2010.

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ADA accessibility mindset – attorneys’ new “gravy train”

Monday, April 12th, 2010

PL101-336 (ADA) accessibility mindset:  please – may I – I request – I demand – I litigate!  Attorneys’ new “gravy train.”

Accessibility began with ANSI 1961, as a building code requirement. It was picked up in the federal civil rights law of 1965 and later in the Federal Rehabilitation Law of 1973.  If federal dollars were going into the project the Federal Rehabilitation Act was a requirement; for everyone else, it was voluntary and it did not work.  The disability community petitioned the federal government for the next 15 years, and in 1990 President George H.W. Bush signed in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Realizing the Act could not be voluntary, enforcement was assigned to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights section.

I really believe the politicians involved with the Act of 1990 thought accessibility throughout the country would be in full accessibility compliance in a few years, as did I.  Surprise, surprise – today I see better accessibility compliance, but we are still very far away from full compliance.  There is a cost to accessibility compliance, and enforcement by the DOJ can only touch a fraction of 1% of non-compliance issues.  The private sector is starting to become more active in policing this civil rights law, using attorneys that are specializing in accessibility law.

In the opinion of ACCESS, there is much accessibility work yet to be done on old and new buildings throughout the United States.  The private sector with their specialized attorneys will be taking the lead in filing lawsuits because there is money to be made – follow the money, stupid!

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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What does litigation for accessibility non-compliance mean? It means $$MONEY$$!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

1.   Very, very few cases will be from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, and what these cases mean for you is money spent to correct your non-compliance items.  The interest of the DOJ is to get compliance to PL101-336, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):  “PL” stands for Public Law, 101 stands for one hundred and first congress, and 336 is the number attached to the law.

2.   A case filed by an attorney for a handicapped individual or advocacy group means $$MONEY$$ in the form of extortion.  Most of these cases are settled out of court with a payment of between $50,000.00 – $100,000.00 to the attorney and the advocate, with some promise by the owner to make corrections to the facility to bring the non-compliant items into compliance.

In the opinion of ACCESS, most owners think that with the payment of the attorney they are done, when in fact they are just beginning!  There is nothing to prevent a second, third, fourth and so on party from filing the same lawsuit.  To prevent such lawsuits, the owner needs a program to bring the property into compliance, which will require documentation of money spent and on which non-compliant item, as well as money to be allocated to other non-compliant items for each year, until the property has reached full compliance.

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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