610-770-9781 ext. 123 • cap@lvcil.org
"Improving the accessibility of communities across Pennsylvania through ADA education and accessibility site surveys."
The CAP Program could use your help. Call 610.770.9781 ext. 123

Basics of Understanding Accessibility

Since the ADA was enacted in 1990, there have been several updates to the standards that have helped make businesses, recreation facilities and the like more accessible. However, the updates have also caused a great deal of confusion. Breaking down barriers for persons with disabilities begins with understanding the most common accessibility mistakes, and realizing that these mistakes can be resolved with little to no financial burden.

First, it is important to understand a few basic principles.

What are Public Accommodations?

Under the ADA public accommodations are private entities that own, lease, lease to or operate a place of public accommodation. This means that both a landlord who leases space in a building to a tenant and the tenant who operates a place of public accommodation have responsibilities to remove barriers.

A place of public accommodation is a facility whose operations affect commerce and fall within at least one of the following 12 categories:

  • Places of lodging (e.g. inns, hotels, motels, except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms)
  • Establishments serving food or drink (e.g. restaurants and bars)
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g. motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums)
  • Places of public gathering (e.g. auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls)
  • Sales or rental establishments (e.g. bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers)
  • Service establishments (e.g. laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals)
  • Public transportation terminals, depots, or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportation)
  • Places of public display or collection (e.g. museums, libraries, galleries)
  • Places of recreation (e.g. parks, zoos, amusement parks)
  • Places of education (e.g. nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private schools)
  • Social service center establishments (e.g. day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies)
  • Places of exercise or recreation (e.g. gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses)

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Public Accommodations

 

Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities (Title III)

 

Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed below) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.

 

  • Places of lodging (e.g. inns, hotels, motels, except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms)
  • Establishments serving food or drink (e.g. restaurants and bars)
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g. motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums)
  • Places of public gathering (e.g. auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls)
  • Sales or rental establishments (e.g. bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers)
  • Service establishments (e.g. laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals)
  • Public transportation terminals, depots, or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportation)
  • Places of public display or collection (e.g. museums, libraries, galleries)
  • Places of recreation (e.g. parks, zoos, amusement parks)
  • Places of education (e.g. nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private schools)
  • Social service center establishments (e.g. day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies)
  • Places of exercise or recreation (e.g. gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses)

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What is Readily Achievable Barrier Removal?

The ADA requires public accommodations (businesses and non-profit organizations) to provide goods and services to people with disabilities on an equal basis to persons without disabilities.

Businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the public are to remove architectural barriers when it is "readily achievable" to do so; in other words, when barrier removal is "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."
The decision of what is readily achievable is made considering the size, type, and overall finances of the public accommodation and the nature and cost of the access improvements needed. Barrier removal that is difficult now may be readily achievable in the future as finances change.

Public accommodations' ADA obligations for barrier removal can be found in the Department of Justice's ADA Title III regulations 28 CFR Part 36.304.
An ADA Site Survey from the CAP program can help you prioritize and plan for readily achievable barrier removal. For more information on site surveys, please click here.

Safe Harbor – Construction Prior to March 15, 2012

Elements in facilities built or altered before March 15, 2012 that comply with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (1991 Standards) are not required to be modified to specifications in the 2010 Standards.

For example, the 1991 Standards allow 54 inches maximum for a side reach range to a control such as the operating part of a paper towel dispenser. The 2010 Standards lower that side reach range to 48 inches maximum. If a paper towel dispenser was installed prior to March 15, 2012 with the highest operating part at 54 inches, the paper towel dispenser does not need to be lowered to 48 inches. Since the dispenser complies with the 1991 Standards, that Standard provides a "safe harbor." Understanding this rule is key to identifying and prioritizing readily achievable barrier removal.

New Elements in the 2010 ADA Standards

The 2010 Standards contain elements that are not in the 1991 Standards. These elements include recreation facilities such as swimming pools, team or player seating, accessible routes in court sports facilities, saunas and steam rooms, fishing piers, play areas, exercise machines, golf facilities, miniature golf facilities, amusement rides, shooting facilities with firing positions, and recreational boating facilities.

Because these elements were not included in the 1991 Standards, they are not subject to the safe harbor exemption. Public accommodations must remove architectural barriers to these items when it is readily achievable to do so. For example, a hotel must determine whether it is readily achievable to make its swimming pool accessible by installing a lift, a sloped entry or both as specified in the 2010 Standards.

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Understanding Accessibility

Accessibility / Accessible  (obtainable, attainable, easy to approach, reach, use, ....)  refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both "direct access" (i.e. unassisted) and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. 

What are Public Accommodations?

A public accommodation is a facility or place generally open to the public that falls within at least one of the 12 categories listed by the ADA. 

Under the ADA, public accommodations are private entities that own, lease, lease to, or operate a place of public accommodation.  Both the landlord leasing space to a tenant and the tenant operating a public accommodation have responsibilities to remove barriers.

What is Readily Achievable Barrier Removal?

The ADA requires public accommodations (businesses and non-profit organizations) to provide goods and services to people with disabilities on an equal basis to persons without disabilities.

Businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the public are to remove architectural barriers when it is "readily achievable" to do so; in other words, when barrier removal is "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."
The decision of what is readily achievable is made considering the size, type, and overall finances of the public accommodation and the nature and cost of the access improvements needed. Barrier removal that is difficult now may be readily achievable in the future as finances change.

Public accommodations' ADA obligations for barrier removal can be found in the Department of Justice's ADA Title III regulations 28 CFR Part 36.304.

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Barrier Removal

The regulations require that architectural and communication barriers that are structural must be removed in public areas of existing facilities when their removal is readily achievable—in other words, easily accomplished and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. Public accommodations that must meet the barrier removal requirement include a broad range of establishments (both for-profit and nonprofit)—such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, museums, retail stores, private schools, banks, doctors’ offices, and other places that serve the public. People who own, lease, lease out, or operate places of public accommodation in existing buildings are responsible for complying with the barrier removal requirement.

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Safe Harbor

Elements in facilities built or altered before March 15, 2012 that comply with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (1991 Standards) are not required to be modified to specifications in the 2010 Standards. 

Click here for more information.

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Safe Harbor

Element-by-Element Safe Harbor. The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. A similar safe harbor applies to elements associated with the "path of travel" to an altered area.

An example:  the 1991 Standards allow a 54 inch maximum for the side reach range to a paper towel dispenser lever.  The 2010 Standards state the side reach range is 48 inches maximum.  If the dispenser was installed prior to the 2012 ADA update,it does not need to be lowered.  

with the highest operating part at 54 inches, the paper towel dispenser does not need to be lowered to 48 inches. Since the dispenser complies with the 1991 Standards, that Standard provides a "safe harbor."

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New Elements in the 2010 ADA Standards

The 2010 Standards contain elements that are not in the 1991 Standards. These elements include recreation facilities such as swimming pools, team or player seating, accessible routes in court sports facilities, saunas and steam rooms, fishing piers, play areas, exercise machines, golf facilities, miniature golf facilities, amusement rides, shooting facilities with firing positions, and recreational boating facilities.

Because these elements were not included in the 1991 Standards, they are not subject to the safe harbor exemption. Public accommodations must remove architectural barriers to these items when it is readily achievable to do so. For example, a hotel must determine whether it is readily achievable to make its swimming pool accessible by installing a lift, a sloped entry or both as specified in the 2010 Standards.

 

Breaking down barriers for persons with disabilities begins with understanding the most common accessibility mistakes.  Some mistakes can be resolved with little to no financial burden.  Click here for more information on common mistakes

Does your business need help with a plan for ADA compliance and readily achievable barrier removal?  For more information or to schedule a site survey, training, or free consultation, please click here.

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Best Practices

Because accessibility mistakes are so common, it is difficult to understand what are best practices when creating accessible features. The obvious answer is to look at the Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) and create accessible features to meet the ADA requirements, however there are a lot of very simple ways to become more welcoming to persons with disabilities.

To learn more, click on an area of interest below.  Also, please view our "Best Practices" video.  

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Proper Signage

Proper Signage is important in conveying correct information to visitors, consumers, and guests. 

For information about  the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), one of  the most recognizable symbols in the world. 

ACCENT Signage Systems, Inc. offers a reliable reference guide:    http://www.accentsignage.com/wp-content/uploads/ADA-Quick-Reference.pdf.

If you are looking for a sign for your facility http://www.myparkingsign.com has a large assortment of proper signs.

If you have questons about signage, or want to schedule a free ADA consultation, click here.

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Person-First Language

Person-First Language is used to speak appropriately and respectfully about an individual with a disability. Person-First Language emphasizes the person not the disability.  An example is saying "a person with a disability" instead of "disabled person".  A person's disability does not define who they are.

Say This…                                                         

Not This

   

A person who uses a wheelchair

A person who is a wheelchair user

Wheelchair bound

Confined to a wheelchair

 

 

A person with hearing loss

A person who is deaf/hearing impaired

Suffers with a hearing loss

A deaf person

 

 

A person who is blind/visually impaired

A blind person

 

 

A person who is unable to speak

A person who is non-verbal

Dumb, mute

Deaf and dumb

 

 

A person who had polio

A person who has multiple sclerosis

A person with muscular dystrophy

A person with cerebral palsy

A person with epilepsy

A person with a seizure disorder

A person with an intellectual disability

A person with a learning disability

Victim of polio

Suffers from multiple sclerosis

Stricken by muscular dystrophy

A cripple, spastic

An epileptic

A spastic

Retarded, retard

Slow learner

 

 

Persons with disabilities

Persons who have disabilities

The handicapped, afflicted

Poor unfortunates, the disabled

 

 

Person without a disability

Normal, healthy, able-bodied

 

 

Children with disabilities

Special or exceptional children

 

 

Has a physical disability

 

Has a mental disorder

Has Down’s syndrome

Crippled, lame, deformed, physically challenged

Crazy, insane, psycho

Mongoloid

 

 

A disability

A seizure

A condition

A handicap, handicapped

A fit

A disease (Most disabilities are conditions, even if originally caused by diseases)

A congenital disability

Successful, productive

Added responsibility

A birth defect

Courageous, heroic

Drain, burden

 

Have questions or comments?  Want to schedule Sensitivity or other ADA trainings at your location or online? 

Click here or contact Brian Rogers at 610-770-9781 EXT 123.

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International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA)

The International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) is perhaps the most recognizable symbol in the world.  

In 2009 it was redesigned to emphasize motion. The Accessible Icon Project is an ongoing work of design activism.  Although the redesign has not been adopted universally as the new ISA,  LVCIL / AccessCheck actively encourages its use where possible.  The ADA states that variations of the ISA are permissible, however it's best to check your local codes / regulations before using the new icon. 

 

The ISA and the redesigned icon Post-it Note window display at LV Center for Independent Living, Allentown, PA. 

 

The new icon utilized in LVCIL parking lot.

 

 

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Service Animals

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.   https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

"Bear" - break time at LV Center for Independent Living

 

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Universal Design

The 7 Principles of Universal Design were developed in 1997 by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, led by the late Ronald Mace in the North Carolina State University.The purpose of the Principles is to guide the design of environments, products and communications. According to the Center for Universal Design in NCSU, the Principles "may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments." 

Principle 1: Equitable Use
The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

Guidelines:
1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
1c. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
1d. Make the design appealing to all users.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Guidelines:
2a. Provide choice in methods of use.
2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Guidelines:
3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.
3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

Guidelines:
4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
4b. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
4d. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
4e. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Guidelines:
5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
5c. Provide fail safe features.
5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

Guidelines:
6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
6b. Use reasonable operating forces.
6c. Minimize repetitive actions.
6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

Guidelines:
7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.