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may rely on. There also is an implied indication that there would likely be only one "readily achievable" action for a facility. However, such may not be the case, particularly in a large facility such as a hotel. This lack of some specific measurement or limit is
exacerbated in the committee report which gives several
examples of what may be considered "readily achievable" changes including grab bars and ramps over a few steps.
The reality is that the installation of grab bars typically requires at a minimum removal of the existing outer wall, installation of reinforcement such as 3/4 inch plywood into the wall, and replacement of the wall prior to installation of the grab bar. If you are speaking of a bathroom, in addition to sheetrock, there would also be ceramic tile to be rem ed and replaced. Additionally, there is the potential for electrical wires within the wall which may need to be moved.
The total cost of materials and labor for the installation of a single grab bar could be more than $2,000. While the bill seems to suggest only one action, the open-ended nature of the example in the committee report suggests this cost could be replicated numerous times in a single hotel facility. This seems to far exceed what one would call "readily achievable", but is a
foreseeable event under the definition and examples of
Similarly, ramping one or several steps cannot be done by merely throwing a few sheets of plywood down. Liability concerns, code requirements, aesthetics, and durability of materials among others require installation of a permanent ramp. Again, the cost for such a ramp may be several thousand dollars, and more than one ramp might be demanded for a facility to make it truly accessible. Other examples in the committee report raise similar cost
A larger concern under the "readily achievable" standard
is the broad range of potential changes which may be
Considering the wide scope of disabilities
covered by this bill, it is not likely to be just one
ramp, or just one grabbar, but several of each as well
as other changes including alarm lights, plumbing fixture relocations, door hardware modifications, and the like.
The overall cost of all the "readily achievable" changes
could exceed the ability of a facility to afford such
cost, but no limitation on cumulative changes is found in
the legislation. When the cost of "readily achievable" standards was mentioned in the Senate, it was frequently
said that minor changes costing $50 to $150 may be all that was required. However, as can be seen from these examples, the likelihood is for costs far in excess of
the minimum amount mentioned.
A measurable limit on
"readily achievable" must be added by this committee.
A specific problem with the example of grab bars used in the committee report is whether, when applied to a hotel, the changes are intended only for the common use, public areas of the hotel, or whether individual guest rooms are contemplated. An interpretation that "readily achievable" changes of the nature contained in the committee report would be required in all guest rooms would create a burden that would likely lead to the closing of some facilities. In addition, it would be inconsistent with committee report language under "new construction" that not all rooms must be fully accessible.
In spelling out this concern over the potentially broad scope of "readily achievable" despite the seeming limitations of s. 933 cited above, it is not our intention to call for removal of this provision but
rather to request this subcommittee to eliminate any possibility of such unintended effect by adding to the existing definition an understandable limit that is knowable and can be adhered to by businesses. Given a standard or guideline more specific than that offered to date, a standard which a business can know and
understand, it will respond with a high degree of
The vague standard we currently have offers
no clear way for a business that wishes to comply to do
It is not our intention to offer specific language in this testimony, but having pointed out the need for such language, we readily offer the staff and resources of
AH&MA to work with committee members and staff to reach
Alterations/Major Structural Alterations
The legislation passed by the Senate contains
requirements when a facility makes alterations/major structural' alterations. The essential difference in the
bill's requirements is that when a major structural alteration is undertaken, the paths of travel, bathrooms, and water fountains in addition to the altered portion of the facility must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This "readily accessible"
standard applied to new construction is limited by a
standard that requires accessibility only to the "maximum
extent feasible" in the two alteration situations. The
principal problem with the two alteration requirements is the lack of a dividing line between them. It is not
clear when an alteration ends and a major structural
alteration begins. Also, there is no exception to the alteration requirement for routine maintenance and replacement of items subject to wear and tear which have at most only a minor impact on accessibility and usability by individuals with disabilities.
The lack of a clear line between alterations and major structural alterations is further muddied in the committee report which does not discuss at all or provide even a single example of an "alteration" and which discusses major structural alterations in a way which is at variance with the common meaning of those words as well as the meaning of those terms as used within the
The emphasis in the committee report discussion is on "major" meaning the same as "important," rather than as describing a level of alteration. In the same way, "structural" is equated with "facility usability" rather than with elements integral to the building such as load bearing walls which actually support the structure.
The result of this confusion is to push typical alterations into the higher category of major structural alterations. This creates the extra responsibility of making paths of travel accessible where true structural alterations have not occurred. The likely result of this requirement, if unchanged, will be to curtail building alterations, thereby cutting against the goal of this legislation.