# 19 III - 6.

2000 June 26, 1992 DJ 202-PL-0015

M. D. Lindeman U.S. West Business Resources, Inc. 188 Inverness Drive West Edgewood, Colorado 80112 Dear M. D. Lindeman: I am responding to your request for clarification of the requirements of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Pub. L. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327 (July 26, 1990), 42 U.S.C.A. {{ 12101 et seq., and this Department's regulation implementing title III, 56 Fed. Reg. 35544 (July 26, 1991), to be codified at 28 C.F.R. pt. 36. Specifically, you have asked how to determine the appropriate basis on which to determine the amount of money that must be spent on alterations to provide an accessible path of travel when the "overall" cost of an alteration to a telephone switching facility includes expenses associated with renovations to electrical or mechanical systems. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or responsibilities under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of your rights or responsibilities under the ADA and it is not binding on the Department of Justice. Under the ADA, alterations to commercial facilities such as telecommunications centers must, to the maximum extent feasible, be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. An alteration is any change that affects or could affect the usability of the facility. Normal maintenance, reroofing, painting or wallpapering, asbestos removal, or changes to

mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility. In addition, alterations that affect the usability of or access to an area of a facility that contains a primary function must include alterations to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible, the path of travel to the altered area is accessible, unless the cost and scope of such alterations is disproportionate to the cost of the overall alteration. Alterations made to provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area will be deemed disproportionate to the overall alteration when the cost exceeds 20% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area. You have asked if in determining the amount of money to be spent on alterations to the path of travel, you should consider the cost of the total alteration, including the amount spent on modernizing electrical and mechanical equipment, or only the cost of physical alterations to the area housing the equipment. Because changes in electrical systems are not included in the regulation's definition of "alterations," you need not include the cost of changes to the electrical and mechanical equipment in calculating the total cost of an alteration in the circumstances you describe where useability is not affected. This Department recently issued a technical assistance manual to assist individuals and entities subject to the ADA to understand the requirements of title III. I have enclosed a copy for your information. I hope that this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

Joan A. Magagna Deputy Director Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights Division Enclosure