DJ-202-PL-500 MAY 20 1993 Lee A.

Barkan General Counsel American Vision Centers 90 John Street New York, New York 10038 Dear Mr. Barkan: This letter responds to your correspondence regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to face lift modifications to an "American Vision Center" retail store in Stratford Square Mall, Bloomingdale, Illinois. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance and information to individuals and entities who have questions about the Act or the Department's Standards for Accessible Design. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding and complying with the ADA. However, this technical assistance should not be viewed as legal advice or a legal opinion about your rights or responsibilities under the ADA. Section 36.304 of the title III regulations requires a public accommodation to remove architectural barriers in existing facilities where such removal is readily achievable. The preamble (page 35568 of the enclosed document) explains that the obligation to remove barriers under 36.304 does not extend to areas of a facility that are used exclusively as employee work areas. When alterations to an area containing a primary function are undertaken, section 36.403 requires that, in addition to each altered element being accessible, the path of travel to the altered area, including the restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless the cost and scope of the path of travel modifications are disproportionate to the cost of the alteration. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Breen, Harland, FOIA, Library n:\udd\mercado\plcrtltr\barkan.ewh

-2Alterations are defined as changes to a place of public accommodation or a commercial facility that affect or could affect the usability of the building or facility. Normal maintenance, such as repainting, or changes to electrical or mechanical systems, are not alterations (unless they affect the usability of the building or facility) and do not trigger the path of travel requirements. Referring to your list of proposed face-lift modifications, the replacement of carpeting would be considered an alteration. The new carpeting would have to comply with section 4.5.3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and path of travel accessibility modifications within the limits of disproportionality also would be required. We hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact the Public Access Section any time you have questions or need information. The Department maintains a telephone information line to provide technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of individuals, businesses, agencies, and others covered or protected by the ADA. This technical assistance is available by calling 202-514-0301 (voice) or 202-514-0383 (TDD) between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures

AMERICAN VISION CENTERS March 17, 1993 Via Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested John Wodatch, Esq. Chief, Public Access Section Civil Rights Division P. 0. Box 66738 Washington, DC 20035-6738 Dear Mr. Wodatch: On behalf of American Vision Centers, Inc. ("AVC"), and at the suggestion of Ms. Sheila Delaney of your office, I am writing to request a technical assistance opinion. The Facts There is presently an "American Vision Center" retail optical store in Stratford Square Mall, Bloomingdale, Illinois. AVC has been the tenant under the lease to the store since 1981, and has been subletting the premises to one of its franchisees since 1987. In 1991, when the lease was renewed, the landlord required that the store receive a face-lift to make it look cleaner and new. In accordance with the lease, the franchisee retained a contractor to perform the following work: (1) Replace the mirrors on the storefront; (2) Replace the plastic letters in the exterior store sign; (3) Relaminate counter-tops and replace fluorescent bulbs where needed; (4) Replace lay-in ceiling tiles and repaint grid; (5) Replace fluorescent ceiling fixtures, per code; (6) Provide a new air balance report on the HVAC unit;

(7) Repaint all the walls; (8) Replace carpeting; (9) Drain the fire sprinkler system and recharge when work is done; and (10) Install a drain pan under the existing hot water heater. As you can see, the store is not going to be altered in any way. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------John Wodatch, Esq. March 17,1993 Page 2 When the plans for the face-lift were submitted to the Village of Bloomingdale for approval, the building commissioner refused to approve them. According to him, the ADA requires that the bathroom at the store be reconstructed to make it wheelchair accessible. Such reconstruction is cost prohibitive. It would require the moving of an entire wall. I spoke with the building commissioner and explained that, based upon AVC's reading of the ADA, no such reconstruction is necessary. The bathroom is not (nor has it ever been) available to the public. It is only used by employees of the franchisee. The Bloomingdale building commissioner agreed to approve the plans, without a reconstruction of the bathroom, provided he received letters from AVC and the landlord absolving him from any possible claim. Although AVC is willing to provide such a letter, the landlord refuses to become involved -- except to the extent of threatening eviction if the face-lift work is not done. The Opinion Sought I believe the Bloomingdale building commission will agree to approve the tenant's plans

and will not insist upon a reconstruction of the bathroom, if AVC can present him with a letter from your division stating that such reconstruction is not mandated by the ADA. Accordingly, on behalf of AVC, I hereby request that you provide AVC with a technical assistance opinion as to whether the bathroom at the store needs to be reconstructed where the only work scheduled to be performed at the premises is the face-lift work set forth above. Thank you very much for your assistance. Very truly yours, Lee A. Barkan General Counsel LAB:ca cc: Seth R. Poppel Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Farina