FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 1998

CR

FLORIDA BUILDING CODE FOUND TO BE

EQUIVALENT TO FEDERAL ACCESS REQUIREMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Florida building owners, contractors and architects can be assured they are complying with federal guidelines, now that the Justice Department has certified Florida codes as being in compliance with a federal law requiring access for individuals with disabilities. Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Bill Lann Lee, announced today's certification at a press conference in Tallahassee, together with Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. The certification means that the Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction is compatible with federal requirements governing new or altered buildings under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Florida becomes only the fourth state--in addition to Texas, Washington and Maine--that has had it building codes certified as ADA-equivalent. Today, the Justice Department is also sending letters to governors of every other state encouraging them to follow the lead set by the four states that have already had their codes certified. "Every Floridian will benefit from Florida's new accessibility standards," said Mr. Lee. "Now architects and builders can comply with the ADA simply by following state law." Title III requires newly built public accommodations and commercial facilities, and those that are altered, to comply with the ADA's Standards for Accessible Design. To better coordinate the ADA's construction requirements with established state and local building inspection procedures, the Justice Department may certify that a building code is compatible with the ADA. "Now building inspectors will be able to check compliance early in the process, when mistakes can be easily corrected," noted Mr. Lee. Owners, builders and architects will also have some additional legal protection if they build in compliance with the certified code, but are later sued under the ADA. "Today's certification demonstrates that Florida is committed to access," added Mr. Lee. "Certification leads to greater voluntary compliance, fewer ADA lawsuits, and more fully accessible

buildings." For further information, individuals can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line. The Information Line was established by Attorney General Janet Reno as part of a nationwide campaign to educate the public about the ADA. The number is 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD). The Justice Department also has established an ADA home page on the World Wide Web at (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm). # # #

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