The ADA and Facility Access Stakeholders

SUMMARY: The ADA applies to recreational facilities, and this article explains not only why this is the case, but also why it matters. The article also helps you begin to understand the regulations for swimming pools, beaches, golf courses, amusement rides, and more. Providing facility access is important in the jobs of many people. The ADA requirement to create facility access goes beyond what happens during construction or a remodel. Facility access needs to be maintained regularly.

The term facility access refers to whether a physical place is accessible to a person with a disability. Obvious examples of features that create facility access are accessible entrances and restrooms. Additional examples are accessible tables, drinking fountains, and service counters.

Of course, facility access and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design play a key role in fulfilling the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When accessibility isn’t provided, people with disabilities do not have independent and equal access to the built environment and other areas that are part of the American fabric of society, such as parks and recreation sites, and countless other areas as well. All of us are stakeholders in the ADA because it protects our civil rights—and the civil rights of our friends, family, neighbors, and broader community.

Read: What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act? ]

Who Should Be Concerned about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design?

Architects, engineers, and similar professionals have a vested interest in understanding and incorporating accessible design into their daily work, but  understanding and implementing facility access is also crucial for other ADA stakeholders. In particular, local government employees—such as ADA Coordinators, department managers, and election oficials—have obligations under Title II of the ADA. And, when it comes to businesses, owners of small “mom and pop” stores have obligations under Title III of the ADA, as do large national chains, and all the various businesses and nonprofits in between.

When Should Stakeholders Focus on the ADA Standards for Accessible Design?

Stakeholders should create facility access during new construction, during alterations, and on a day-to-day basis. Professionals like engineers, architects, and code enforcement officers play a key role in meeting accessibility requirements in new construction and alterations, but maintaining day-to-day accessibility requires the efforts of people in a wide variety of jobs. This means that accessibility requirements are important for business owners, managers, local government representatives, and anyone with responsibilities to ensure that programs, goods, or services are accessible to people with disabilities.

Even older, pre-ADA sites and facilities may require accessibility improvements to ensure equal access to goods and services. Additionally, as public and private entities plan alterations to improve access, it is important for them to be aware of the ADA requirements that must be applied.  

Facility Access at a Public Library

Public library workers should focus on the ADA during alternations and on an ongoing basis. For example, a public library that was built in the 1960s might have barriers to accessibility, such as inaccessible entrances or toilet rooms. Library employees may already routinely apply for grants to fund library programs. If these employees are aware of barriers to access, they can apply for grants to receive funds for removing them.

If the same library is hosting a public meeting or other event, the organizer can ensure that the event is accessible by arranging furniture so that the seating layout is accessible to all, as is the route to the meeting room or event area. If a speaker’s platform or stage is used, access should be provided to that area as well.

Facility Access at a Store

Another example is a small store that was built pre-ADA. The store owners need to understand their obligation to remove barriers if it is readily achievable to do so. They also need to consider day-to-day accessibility, such as keeping aisles clear of clutter.

These efforts will allow people with disabilities and their friends and family members to shop at their store. After all, an accessible space is usable by everyone!

Final Thoughts

Individuals with responsibilities to provide access for people with disabilities play a key role in implementing the ADA in their local communities. The Northeast ADA Center is committed to supporting these stakeholders with understanding how to achieve access. We are here to answer your questions, and you can find our contact information below on this page.


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