Maintenance of Accessible Features (Elements)
What is the requirement of building owners or tenants to maintain accessible features (elements) with respect to the ADA?
Implementation regulation 28 CFR Part 35.133 and Part 36.211, Maintenance of Accessible Features, state, “A public entity (Part 35) or accommodation (Part 36) shall maintain in operable working condition those features of facilities and equipment that are required to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities by the Act or this part. This section does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.” Noteworthy is that these statements are not contained in the 2010 ADA Standards.
In other words, those elements of a building or structure that are accessible to handicapped individuals must be maintained in an operational working condition such that the individual can use the element without extraordinary effort. Here are some examples.
1. A door bell should sound when the switch is activated and the sound should be within normal acoustic levels.
2. A door knob should not be so loosely installed as to make operation of the latch difficult.
3. Door hinges and gust devices should not be loose or binding so that the door will not open or close completely.
4. Window counter balances should hold the window in an open position when the window is opened and released.
5. Control knobs for an electric appliance such as an air conditioner or cooking range should not be damaged or so loosely attached as to prevent normal actuation.
6. Grab bars should be firmly attached to the wall.
7. Toilet seats should not be loosely attached.
8. Toilets should not be loosely attached at the floor.
9. Tables and seats should not be uneven so that a 'rocking” action exists when touched.
10. Carpet should be stretched enough to prevent uneven surfaces that block wheel action or can trip individuals when walking on the surface.
Discrepancies such as these have been cited by the US DOJ during inspections of facilities for ADA compliance that resulted in regulatory action against the building owner and/or tenant. Therefore, compliance with laws regarding ADA includes maintenance of accessible features.
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