DJ 202-PL-78

MAY 12 1992

Lee E. Sapira, Esq. Kozloff, Diener, Payne & Fegley Post Office Box 6286 Wyomissing, Pennsylvania 19610 Dear Mr. Sapira: This letter responds to your correspondence requesting information about the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213 (ADA). The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA accessibility standards. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. Your letter makes inquiry with respect to two issues under title III of the ADA: whether automatic doors are required in existing facilities, regardless of cost, in order to assure accessibility for individuals with disabilities; and whether a self evaluation is required for public accommodations. You also request a source for answering future questions concerning the ADA. Title III of the ADA requires places of public accommodation to remove architectural barriers in existing facilities where it is "readily achievable" to do so. The Act defines "readily achievable" to mean "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense." The factors to be considered in determining whether the removal of a particular barrier is readily achievable include: the nature and cost of the action; the financial resources available both to the site and the parent organization; the size and number of employees at the site and overall; and the relationship of the site to the parent organization.

cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; Magagna. FOIA :uddl:udd:magagna:pl.78

01-00777

-2This is a case-by-case determination, and without all of this kind of information, we cannot make a judgment as to whether, in response to your specific inquiry, installation of an automatic door in a credit union facility would be "readily achievable." Automatic doors, as such, are not required. There may be other less costly measures to make an entrance accessible. The Department's title III regulations, 28 C.F.R. Pt. 36, do suggest that the first priority in barrier removal should be access to the facility, 28 C.F.R. 36.304(c)(1). Where an entity can demonstrate that removal of a particular barrier is not readily achievable, the entity then has the obligation to take alternative steps to make its goods and services available to persons with disabilities, if such alternatives are readily achievable. The regulations provide several examples that may be relevant to your clients' situations, such as providing curb service or home delivery. 28 C.F.R. S305(b). The duty to remove barriers is a continuing obligation. Thus, for example, if barrier removal is not now readily achievable due principally to financial constraints but is at some later time due to an improved financial condition, the barriers must be removed at that time. Title III does not require public accommodations to conduct a self-evaluation to determine barrier removal obligations. However, in its Preamble to the title III regulations, this Department recommends that public accommodations develop an implementation plan to achieve compliance and suggests methods for such development. See 56 Fed. Reg. 35569 (July 26, 1991).

The source of your confusion regarding the self-evaluation requirement may be that title II, which covers State and local governments, does have such a requirement. I have enclosed copies of the Department's title III regulations and Title III Technical Assistance Manual. These materials may assist you in advising clients of their title III obligations. If you have further questions, we will attempt to answer future written inquiries or you may call the ADA Information Line at (202) 514-0301. You indicated that you had previously attempted to call without success. Although we answer hundreds of calls per week, the demand has been very heavy and we regret that some callers have not been unable to get through. 01-00778

-3We hope that this information will be useful to you. Sincerely, Joan A. Magagna Deputy Director Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act

Enclosures (2)

01-00779

February 24 John Wodatch, Director Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C. 20530 Re: Our File No. 9318-77 Dear Mr. Wodatch: I am an attorney in Reading, Pennsylvania. I have been attempting for quite some time now, with very little success, to get some aid in understanding the contents of the ADA, which I have reviewed at

length. I have repeatedly attempted to utilize the phone numbers provided in the Code of Federal Regulations, without success. My specific concerns arise from representation of several clients who fall within the rubric of "public accommodations", for purposes of the Act. I have been attempting to discern what obligations they face. For example, one of my clients is a large credit union. They have an immediate question which I have been unable to answer. The question is whether the Credit Union is required to install automatically opening doors in their facility. The expense they would incur is substantial, but no more so than for any other facility installing automated doors. My clients certainly think the ecomonic burdon of installing these doors is unreasonable, but I cannot comfortably advise them as to whether it is unreasonable for purposes of the Act. I have similar questions for other clients, and anticipate more and more of them, particularly as to specific physical characteristics of their accommodations, as time goes on. Please tell me if there is a technical review section to the American with Disabilities Act, and if so, how I may reach them. Another specific concern I have is as regards the several references I have encountered to a "self-evaluation". I have not been able to discover the standards pursuant to which such an evaluation must be performed. I cannot tell from any of the materials to which I have access whether the self-evaluation must be performed for all public accommodations, whether it can be performed simply by having an employee of the facility inspect the 01-00780

John Wodatch, Director February 24, 1992 Page 2

facility and designate areas he or she believes to be troublesome, or whether a certified engineering service must be hired to perform the evaluation. Alternatively, I have no idea, and cannot discern from the materials to which I have access, whether the evaluation must be performed by somebody with any particular qualifications relating to the Act. I would greatly appreciate you assistance in resolving these specific questions, and perhaps more importantly providing me with a source for resolving related questions in the future. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. I look forward to hearing from you. Very truly yours, KOZLOFF, DIENER, PAYNE & FEGLEY Lee E. Sapira LES:CTCE:daw:077.LTR 01-00781