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documents discussing accessibility in the context of their particular areas of interest. In 1988, Northern Cartographic published Access America: An Atlas and Guide to the National
Parks for visitors with Disabilities, which presents
comprehensive accessibility information, including maps, diagrams, access ratings, 118ts of accessible features and facilities, information about weather and elevations, and a wealth of other information and data about 37 National Parks, along with essays about park use by individuals with disabilities and full-color photos of scenic views in the parks.
APPLICATION OF ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS TO EXISTING BUILDINGS
The ADA provides that no individual shall be discriminated against in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodations on the basis of disability, and provides that “discriminated against includes a failure to renove architectural and communication barriers that are structural in existing facilities, where such removal is readily achievable. If the removal is not readily achievable, the goods , services, accommodations, etc. must be provided via alternative methods. In this way, the ADA provides a reasonable standard by which existing facilities will be required to remove the barriers that can be removed without great difficulty, the sum total of which will greatly increase the architectural and communication accessibility of the existing public accommodations for people
The readily achievable standard is lower than the ADA'S
standard applicable to auxiliary aids and services, which are required unless the entity can demonstrate that provision would result in an undue burden. Here, access is not required unless
it can be achieved readily.
The "readily achievable" standard was preceded by the
earlier (1988) version of the ADA which required structural
barriers to removed within two years if doing so did not fundamentally alter the nature of the activity engaged in by a place of public accommodations. It was felt by the current sponsors of the ADA that it is more practical and inexpensive for the private sector to be held to a "readily achievable" standard.
Existing Historic Buildings
If an existing historic building is not being otherwise
altered or renovated, it is required to remove barriers when doing so is "readily achievable." This standard leaves considerable room for balancing the need for accessibility with maintaining the integrity of the building's historically significant features. Under existing law, providing access to historic properties has generally been found to be achievable without destroying a property's historic significance. The National Park Service has established the following policy for addressing accessibility in regard to historic buildings:
The National Park Service will provide the highest feasible level of physical access for disabled persons to historic
Rodifications for disabled persons will be designed and
In summary, the Park Service notes, "The issue is not if we should make historic properties accessible but how to provide the highest level of access with the lowest level of impact." (18.)
In cases where full access is not readily achievable, the
ADA requires 'alternative methods of making such
The "alternative methods' requirement
can generally be accomplished in historic buildings through a combination of alternative access features (ramps that are slightly steeper than code, usage of non-primary entrances, etc.) along with video presentations and other representational displays of inaccessible features of the building.
If any public service is offered in an existing historic building, the building is covered under the ADA's requirement for nondiscrimination in activities of state and local governments. Section 204 of the bill requires the Attorney General to develop
standards for public services which are consistent with regulations under part 41 of title 28, Code of Federal Regulations (as in existence on January 13, 1978), applicable to recipients of Federal financial assistance under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794). Therefore, the standards to be developed would be consistent with the historic
standards to be developed would be consistent with the historic
building standards in the Uniform Federal Accessibility standards (or UFAS). UFAS contains provisions that allow access to be provided to certified historic buildings in alternative ways (Sec. 4.1.7). For example, if it would impair the historic
facade of a building to make the primary entrance accessible,
another entrance can be made accessible.
COSTS OF ACCESSIBILITY
Making New Facilities Accessible
the Section 504 rule by HEW in 1977 estimated that a new building
could be made accessible at an additional cost of one half of one
percent 1.5%) of the total cost of construction (41 Fed.
Offsetting this cost, of course, is the savings to
taxpayers of permitting employment for millions of persons with disabilities, by reducing public assistance payments and increasing tax revenues.
Other studies, prior and subsequent to the 1977 estimate, have supported the conclusion that accessibility costs in the construction of new buildings are extremely low. In the mid 608
the National League of Cities studied costs of access for people with disabilities for a national commission on architectural barriers; the study showed that when planned into the initial design, accessibility features usually cost less than one-half of one percent. A Syracuse University study conducted for HUD
roached the same conclusion. In 1975, the General Accounting office estimated that accessibility in a new building can be accomplished for less than one-tenth of one percent of overall
Other authorities have concurred with these estimates that accessibility in a new building should not cost more than onetenth to one-half of one percent of construction costs: ATBCB, About Barriers, p. 5 (1982); National Council on Disability, Toward Independence, Appendix, pp. F-28 & P-29 (1986); U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Accommodating the Spectrum of. Individual Abilities, pp. 81-82 (1983); Congressional Record, April 29, 1988 (Romarks of Representative Owens).
In 1981 the ATBCB prepared for the office of Management and Budget a report of cost information based upon data provided by the federal accessibility standard-setting agencies. It stated:
The Board staff reviewed cost studies and cost data compiled
1981) All of these studies and authorities agree that the costs of accessibility in now construction is very, very low.