Physical Access

Summary
In general, all new buildings built since 1992 must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Examples include, but are not limited to: restaurants, movie theaters, doctors’ offices, hotels, city bus stations, museums, and some office buildings.

Businesses open to the public must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to participate in and benefit from the services, activities, and goods offered to all other customers, patrons, and clients.

For older buildings, the ADA requires business owners to remove physical barriers that can be removed without much difficulty or expense.

Businesses and non-profit organizations are required by the ADA to remove architectural barriers when it is "readily achievable" to do so.

“Readily achievable” means "easily accomplished without much difficulty or expense." The obligation for barrier removal is ongoing, which means a business must continue to evaluate existing barriers to determine if the barrier removal is readily achievable. In order to identify barriers in a facility, a business or non-profit should conduct an accessibility evaluation.

Determining what is “readily achievable” is made by each business on a case-by-case basis based on the size and resources of the business. First, facilities should be assessed to determine what architectural barriers exist. Second, the costs of barrier removal should be documented and barrier removal priorities and timelines established. Third, this information can be used to create a "barrier removal plan."

Government Access

If physical construction or alterations to local government facilities were started on or after March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. Before that date, the 1991 Standards (without the elevator exemption), the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards may be used for projects when the start of construction commences on or after September 10, 2010.

Advocacy Strategies

  • Know your rights. Keep up to date on the ADA regulations pertaining to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Call the Rocky Mountain ADA Center for more information.
  • Have a copy of the ADA regulations and 2010 Standards for Accessible Design on hand when requesting a reasonable modification of a facility.
  • Although it is not required, when possible, request reasonable modifications of a facility or program in writing.
  • If the compliance issue involves a state or local government facility or program, contact the government entity’s ADA Coordinator.
  • Follow up with the business or government entity about your positive or negative experiences in regards to access.
  • Give public entities feedback on the effectiveness of program changes, renovations or remodels.
  • If your request for reasonable modification is denied, call the Rocky Mountain ADA Center and we will discuss your situation with you and provide you with informal guidance on next steps.
  • If a business or state or local government entity is unsure about their responsibilities to provide reasonable modifications, provide them with our contact information and we will give impartial and informal guidance on how the ADA applies in your given situation.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is not an enforcement agency, nor does it provide advocacy services. The information and materials provided by the center are intended solely as informal guidance and are not a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities. All communication with the center is strictly confidential.

For possible additional resources, please see our resources page or contact the Rocky Mountain ADA Center through our Technical Assistance Form or call us directly at 800-949-4232.

External Resources