May 22, 2017 / By Adrienne Ruebusch, Vice President

5 Common ADA Violations and How to Avoid Them

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was ratified, it has gone through several revisions, but one fact hasn’t changed: Unless it is structurally impractical, new public accommodations or commercial building construction, as well as alterations to existing facilities when requirements change, need to address Title III ADA compliance or risk a lawsuit.  Even buildings or facilities eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places are designated as historic under State or local law must comply “to the maximum extent feasible” with Title III.

And the risk of non-compliance—and subsequent lawsuits—is very real. In a review of ADA Title III Lawsuits in Federal Court between 2013 and 2016, law firm Seyfarth Shaw found an upward trend, noting that in 2016 alone, filings climbed 37 percent.

What are the most frequently identified ADA Violations?

As you might expect, the violations in the Top Five list cover a wide range of accessibility issues—and the devil is in the details. Here is what you need to look for:

  1. Evaluate the parking spaces and curb ramps: In addition to assuring appropriate space size and access aisles for getting in and out of vehicles using walkers, wheelchairs or motorized scooters, you also need to have the correct slope in the pavement and curb ramps—as well as maneuvering space around the ramps—so that visitors to your commercial property have a safe path to access to the building.
  2. Check the signs: Whether it’s a series of wayfinding signs or the sign on a restroom door, if they are installed at the wrong height or become outdated due to remodeling projects, your facility could be out of ADA compliance. Exits need to be clearly indicated.
  3. Travel the access routes: Signage is one part of the route, but so are blocked ramps and passageways. Uneven surfaces can also pose a problem. Moreover, pedestrian ramps need suitable handrails and level landings. And the doorways along the route also need to meet clearance requirements and have accessible door handles. For heavier doors, assisted opening mechanisms may be needed.
  4. Assess the stairs: Do you have appropriate hazard striping, lighting and railings to ensure safe stairways? Are the steps even? Stairways can be dangerous for anyone—not just those with disabilities—so ensuring stairs are maintained in safe condition helps you avoid potential liabilities.
  5. Examine the restrooms: It goes without saying that sinks and toilet stalls must be easily accessible, but don’t overlook the smaller details like soap dispensers and hand dryers.

While it is impossible to guarantee a facility won’t be subject to an ADA complaint, you can take proactive steps to minimize the risk.  What should you do? For existing facilities, conduct a comprehensive ADA evaluation and then conduct new evaluations when facilities undergo any renovations or alterations. Whether you’re starting a new commercial construction project, undertaking an adaptive reuse project of a historic structure or engaged in ongoing maintenance, team up with detail-oriented commercial building facilities management experts.

Learn how our expertise in ADA compliance can help ensure that your commercial facilities remain accessible—from new construction through on-going facilities management. Talk to Adrienne Ruebusch at Miller-Valentine Group, 513.774.8400.