DJ 182-06-00010

Fleming W. Smith, Jr., FAIA Principal Gresham, Smith and Partners 3310 West End Avenue Post Office Box 1625 Nashville, Tennessee 37202 Dear Mr. Smith: Thank you for your letters asking questions concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the Department of Justice is authorized by law to give legal opinions only to the President and to the heads of Federal Executive agencies, the ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. Therefore, we may provide informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA Guidelines. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. Your first question asks whether the 48" clear width requirement for stairs adjacent to areas of rescue assistance (4.3..11.3) applies if a building is exempt from the requirement to provide an area of rescue assistance. You are correct in your interpretation that if a section does not apply, the subsections under it also do not apply. It should be pointed out, however, that the exemption from the requirement for an area of rescue assistance only applies in buildings with supervised automatic sprinkler systems (i.e, those that have built-in signals for monitoring various features, as explained in Appendix section 4.1.3(9)). Your second question asks whether vinyl composition tile complies with section 4.5.1. The Department of Justice does not issue opinions as to whether particular products comply with accessibility standards. You might, however, wish to contact the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (phone 800-USA-ABLE) for technical information on products.

cc: Records; CRS Files; Oneglia; Wodatch; Friedlander; Drake. :UDD1:UDD:WODATCH:SMITHLETTER


-2We would also point out that you have incorrectly assumed that section 4.5.1 includes a requirement for a static coefficient of 0.6. The only requirement in section 4.5.1 is for a slip-resistant surface. No specific static coefficient of friction is mandated. Although the appendix encourages a static coefficient of 0.6, nothing in the appendix is mandatory. Your third question concerns employee work areas. Section 4.1.1(3) requires that areas used only as work areas must be designed and constructed so that an individual with disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the areas. The preamble language at page 35587 explains that the section applies to any areas used only as work areas, not just to areas "that may be used by employees with disabilities." Thus, all work areas must be designed in accordance with the ADA Guidelines, unless exempted under section 4.1.1(5) because (1) it would be structurally impracticable to comply, (2) the area is an observation gallery used primarily for security purposes, or (3) the area is nonoccupiable space fitting the criteria in Section 4.1.1(5)(b)(ii), such as an elevator pit or penthouse. Assumptions as to whether individuals with disabilities can be employed in particular positions are not determinative as to whether an area must be built accessibly. Unless one of the above exemptions applies, the work areas must be built in accordance with the Guidelines. Staff toilet areas for surgical nurses and factory or airplane maintenance workers (examples

mentioned in your letter), therefore, must be designed in accordance with the Guidelines. You also asked whether a staff toilet serving employees working in mechanical rooms must be accessible, since elevator access is not required to mechanical rooms. The "mechanical room" that is referred to in Section 4.1.3(5), Exception 2 is intended to include rooms that are only used incidentally on an "in and out" basis. If a bathroom serves the room, as your hypothetical suggests, then the room you have called a "mechanical room" is probably not a mechanical room to which Exception 2 would apply. As a work area, it must comply with the requirement in Section 4.1.1(3) that an individual with disabilities be able to approach, enter, and exit the area, as well as with the requirement for fully accessible common areas, including bathroom facilities. Thus, there would have to be elevator access to the room as well as to any bathroom serving the room. If the room you are describing is, in fact, a true "mechanical room," then, as you point out, Section 4.1.3(5), Exception 2 would exempt it from any requirement for an elevator. In such a case, if the only bathrooms in the facility were to be provided on that inaccessible level, accessible bathrooms would

-3need to be provided on the accessible ground floor. This principle is stated in Section 4.1.3(5), Exception 1. In response to your question about accessibility in an air traffic control tower, the tower would be a work area subject to the requirement that individuals with disabilities be able to approach, enter, and exit it. If it were infeasible to use an elevator because of visibility problems, a lift would be permissible. Section 4.1.3(5), Exception 4(d) permits lifts to provide access where "existing site constraints or other constraints" make use of an elevator infeasible.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Director Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act Coordination & Review Section Civil Rights Division