DJ 202-PL-0015 M. D. Lindeman U.S. West Business Resources, Inc.

188 Inverness Drive West Edgewood, Colorado 80112 Dear M. D. Lindeman:

JUN 26 1992

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. SS 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. cc: Records Chrono Magagna Blizard:ada.interpretation.uswest arthur T. 6/25/92 01-00971 -2-

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 01-00972 ​U S WEST Business Resources, Inc. 188 Inverness Drive West Englewood, Colorado 80112 USWEST

January 13, 1992 Ms. Janet Blizzard, General Counsel The Office of the Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice P. O. Box 66118 Washington DC 20035-6118 Dear Ms. Blizzard, As an introduction, I work for U S WEST, Inc. and manage the building design and construction program for U S WEST Communications, our telecommunications subsidiary, throughout its fourteen state territory. Your name was given to me by Jay Murdoch of BOMA International. He agreed with the following interpretation, but suggested I ask you to confirm that our interpretation of ADA and its application in telephone switching environments is correct. We have an aggressive network modernization plan which involves replacing old central office switching machines with digital switches, upgrading facilities from copper to fiber optic technology and other network related improvements. A major effort is to upgrade our rural offices with new technology. A typical central office in the rural program has less than 2000 access lines and a typical renovation might cost $100,000. Of this amount, $90,000 would be spent to upgrade HVAC, electrical systems, central office grounding systems, asbestos abatement, and standby power plants, and $10,000 might be spent building a drywall compartment for the new switch. The equipment is compartmentalized for two reasons. One is to provide a very clean, highly filtered environment for the digital equipment, and the second is to provide additional fire protection since these buildings do not have sprinkler systems. My question is whether the 20% path of travel requirement would be applied to the total project cost of $100,000 or just to the non-electrical mechanical part of the job; the $10,000 amount. 01-00973 Page 2 January 13, 1992

As I read the regulations, I interpret the 20% requirement to apply to the $10,000 amount by using the following logic: In section 36.402 (b) (1) it states "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." (My underlining.) The facility was and continues to be a telecommunications switching facility and its use was not changed. Section 36.403 (f) (1) reads, "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." It would seem that the 20% clearly would apply only to that part of the job which fits the definition in 36.402 of an alteration. Clearly, the drywall compartment and any other architectural changes would need to be built in accordance with the new construction requirements of the law. These buildings are frequently not work reporting locations for any employees. It would seem clear that the intent of the Act is to improve accessibility for people with disabilities to public accommodations and improve accessibility for employees. It is our intention, if this interpretation is correct, to focus our efforts toward improving accessibility in locations which meet the definition of a public accommodation and the commercial facilities in which our 58,000 employees work and to prioritize our investments to impact the work environment positively for the highest number of employees with disabilities. Thank you for your help in clarifying this matter. Sincerely, cc. Barb Japha Ted Williams Jerry Weldon Sherry Jackson 01-00974