Reaching Out to Customers With Disabilities: Lesson 3 New Buildings, Additions, and RemodelingTwo constuction workers are operating a jack hammer.

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Summary of Lesson Three

The ADA requires all commercial buildings and facilities built in the United States since 1992 to comply with design standards called the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards).

The ADA Standards cover parking lots, sidewalks, entrances, corridors, rooms, service counters, toilet facilities, handles and switches, and many other features, elements, and spaces.

There is no inspection process for the ADA. The building owner as well as those responsible for design and construction are responsible for complying with the ADA.

When a state or local building code’s accessibility provisions are certified as equivalent to the ADA Standards, the building code inspection process ensures compliance with the building code and also serves as rebuttable evidence that the building complies with the ADA.

When a building is expanded, the completely new spaces or elements that are constructed as part of the addition must meet the ADA Standards.

When a business alters an existing facility in any way that affects usability, the areas or elements being altered must comply with the ADA Standards. The standards for alterations are not always as strict as the standards for new construction.

A core concept is the path a person travels in getting from the parking area or sidewalk into the building, to the areas where he or she works or is served as a customer, and to the restrooms and other amenities that are provided in the facility.

When a primary function area is altered, the path of travel to the altered area as well as the amenities serving the altered area must be made accessible, unless the costs for these changes are disproportionate. The costs for the added alterations are considered disproportionate if they exceed 20 percent of the cost of the overall alteration.


1. If you are planning to build a new facility or an addition to your existing facility, have you consulted with your architect and/or contractor about making sure that the work complies with the ADA?

2. If you are planning to make any improvements or changes in your existing facility, what will you do to make sure the work that is done complies with the ADA?

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Construction workers are building a new building.

A new addition is being built on the side of a hotel.

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