You may have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but did you know that there are other architectural accessibility laws out there, too? If you are a professional in the construction industry or legal field, you may already be familiar with them, but many people are not. Here is a list of some architectural accessibility laws in the United States:
· The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
· Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
· The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
· State and local accessibility laws
Due to its wide-ranging impact on everything from parking spaces for people with disabilities at grocery stores, to wheelchair platform lifts in schools, the ADA is probably the most well-known of these laws. However, according to the New England ADA Center, the other accessibility laws above might also apply to a construction project, depending on the following four factors:
1. How will the facility be used?
2. Who owns the property?
3. Does the owner receive federal financial assistance?
4. Where is the project located?
Some examples of how these factors come into play include:
1. Building use, for example multi-family housing construction, often determines whether the FHA and ADA (Title III) are applicable.
2. Property ownership by a government agency, and which government agency, usually dictates ABA and ADA (Title II) applicability.
3. Federal funding is the key driver of Rehabilitation Act Section 504 relevance.
4. Project location establishes which state and local accessibility laws apply. If the project is on federal land, the ABA will be pertinent.
Disclaimer: while these examples are based on publicly available information from an AIA-approved resource, this information should not be considered legal or architectural advice 😊 Please consult a licensed architect for any project you may have! If you are a property owner or general contractor working on a project that involves a platform lift or limited use/limited application elevator (aka LULA elevator), we might be able to refer you to an architect who we’ve worked with in the past.
One of the main reasons why it is necessary to consult an architect, aside from benefiting from their design knowledge, is that state and local laws can vary widely in their adoption and modification of federal building codes. For example, Minnesota Accessibility Code is based on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, but the section on Accessible Routes, which covers platform lifts and LULA elevators, makes reference to unique state requirements. This is just one example, of course. Many other state and local jurisdictions contain similar references and modifications.
In our 35 years of doing business as an accessibility lift and specialty elevator contractor/subcontractor, we have certainly helped many architects on the nuances of platform lifts, LULA elevators, and dumbwaiters! At the same time, when it comes to ADA and other related laws, and their relevance to specific construction projects, we all need to listen to the true experts: architects.
As a final note, if you are an architect looking to enhance or refresh your expertise with more in-depth, AIA-approved learning resources, check out http://learn.newenglandada.org/, which is the source of the above summary-level information. Additionally, Arrow Lift has an AIA-approved program for architects that may also help with continuing education credits for licensure renewal. Our program focuses on accessibility lifts and specialty elevators. If you’re interested, get in touch with us! We’d love to help.