Failure to remove architectural barriers

Many business and commercial property owners believe that they do not have to take any action simply because they have owned a building for a long time. This is where many businesses get caught by surprise by a disability access lawsuit.

It is a common belief that if a business owner does not make any improvements, he does not have to address architectural barriers. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

Barrier removal is incumbent on all businesses regardless of modifications. Under the ADA, “existing facilities” must remove architectural barriers “where such removal is readily achievable,” meaning “easily accomplish-able and able to be carried
out without much difficulty or expense.” (42 U.S.C. §§ 12181(9), 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv).) This means that you MUST remove architectural barriers unless it is a hardship.

If removal of architectural barriers from an existing facility is not readily achievable, the facility must make its goods and services available to PWD through “alternative methods if such methods are readily achievable.”

If you cannot remove an architectural barrier because of a physical or financial difficulty, you are strongly advised to request a waiver from your local building department.

Please be aware that if you choose to use financial hardship as a reason to avoid barrier removal, your financial records can be requested by a court of law if you get sued.

Your best defense against access lawsuits is compliance.

Tags: access lawsuits, Barrier removal

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