Congress has enacted H.R. 620, updating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to emphasize gains in accessibility. Under the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, businesses are encouraged to improve building access for alternately-abled people before paying out-of-court settlements.
After 28 years of accessibility enforcement by plaintiffs, attorneys and the courts, continued lack of building access for alternately-abled people is proof the current ADA is not working.
The fact that 6 California plaintiffs are personally collecting over $30 million a year in out-of-court settlements illustrates how just broken the current law is.
The burden on small businesses paying $50,000 to $100,000 in out-of-court settlements is overshadowed by the hardships faced by the alternately-abled not having access to public accommodations.
As a California-licensed architect and CASp (California Access Specialist), I’m dedicated to providing building accessibility. I believe an additional improvement to the ADA would be making it a building code mandate enforced by building departments.
The City of San Francisco has accomplished this with Municipal Ordinance No. 51-16. This ordinance requires that all public accommodations be made accessible with accessibility confirmation and upgrades enforced by the SF Department of Building Inspection. Ordinance No. 51-16 will provide more access to buildings over the next two years than the ADA has offered in 28 years.
(For San Francisco businesses, compliance with Ordinance No. 51-16 is done via SF’s Accessible Business Entrance Program)
#HilliardArchitects applauds Congress for refocusing the ADA to provide access into buildings before filling plaintiffs’ pockets with money. I encourage Congress to go even further by following San Francisco’s example. Let’s provide fast, constructive change by making the ADA a building code mandate enforced by building departments.