T. 8-4-93 Control No.

3063013622 AUG 9,1993

The Honorable Mike Kopetski U.S. House of Representatives 218 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-3705 Dear Congressman Kopetski: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of xx regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities to older buildings. He is particularly concerned that realistic standards be created for providing accessibility in older buildings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights and obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist your constituent in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. Under the ADA, accessibility modifications to some older buildings are required under standards that are realistic. Title III of the ADA applies to privately owned places of public accommodation, like stores and restaurants, which are required to remove architectural barriers and communication barriers that are structural in nature if it is readily achievable to do so. Readily achievable means easy to accomplish without much difficulty or expense. The cost of removing barriers and the resources of the particular business involved are taken into account in determining whether a particular action is readily achievable. The title III regulation promulgated by this Department lists examples of barrier removal that are likely to be readily achievable in many instances and suggests priorities for removing barriers if it is not readily achievable to remove all barriers at once.

When barriers are removed, the modifications must meet the technical requirements set forth in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design that were promulgated as part of the title III regulation. If it is not readily achievable to meet the cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Johansen, McDowney, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\johansen\kopetski.ltr 01-02513 Standards, it is permissible to make non-complying modifications as long as they do not create a safety risk to persons with disabilities or others. If it is not readily achievable to remove barriers, other readily achievable measures to provide goods or service must be taken. The Standards for Accessible Design have specific requirements for all elements of a building, including most of the items suggested in XX letter -- door opening force, door hardware, curb ramps, and bathroom sizes. See Standards Sections 4.13.9, 4.13.11, 4.7. 4.8, and 4.22. A copy of the title III regulation, which includes the Standards, is enclosed for your reference. Nothing in the ADA prevents States and local governments from enforcing codes that provide for even greater accessibility than that required under the ADA. We hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

James P. Turner Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure

01-02514 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MICHAEL J. KOPETSKI 216 Cannon House Washington, DC 20515-3705 202-225-5711 Dear Michael; I am a Physically Handicapped person aged 46 years. I have been diagnosed to have Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy at age 34. This type of dystrophy affects the skeletal muscles of the arms legs and chest, a condition that steadily worsens. This causes me to be wheelchair bound, and have limited use of my arms and hands. I cannot reach out and raise my arms (as if to shake hands with someone for example). I have traveled extensively in California and the North West and a few times to the East Coast. It is appalling to see the variety of non-accessible bath rooms in Restaurants and Motels that claim Handicap Accessibility by merely displaying a sign and marking a parking space. One such space was right on a steep incline that would make it impossible for a person in a wheelchair to get in or out of their car. The same Restaurant did not even have a way to get over the curb from the parking lot. Many even have several steps! Most people have the illusion that those in wheelchairs can get up and walk a few steps when necessary. These are usually some elderly who are too weak to walk long distances, but most

people in wheelchairs can't even stand! People who became paraplegic from accidents have normal upper body strength and usually have no trouble with doors. But those of us that have MS or MD are weak all over. Some Restaurants have large enough bathrooms, but stalls that are too narrow, or stall doorways that are too narrow for a wheelchair. NONE (even those that were built to today's standards) have a way to CLOSE the stall door from the inside! I suggest another door handle inside the door. Some have spring-loaded stall doors that sometimes fight to keep you inside. In nearly ALL bathrooms, the entry doors are spring-loaded so stiffly that it is difficult to get in and nearly impossible to get out, without help! When I worked for Hewlett-Packard, we ordered and installed a special door closer (made for the handicapped) and Louvers at the bottom of the door to equalize air pressure, yet not allow anyone to see in. This worked well for me as did the door handle inside the stall door. It should be IMPERATIVE that the inspector that inspects a building for compliance, do so in a wheelchair! Only then would he see how impossible it is to enter and leave a bathroom, or the parking lot. Probably less than half the buildings would be considered Handicapped Accessible! Only then would the handicapped not be fooled by the Blue Wheelchair sign. I don't know what the "New Building" code requirements are for the State of Oregon, but they seem to be pretty good. The NEW Kmart in Corvallis has all the suggestions I mention later, except the door handle inside the stall door. They have a coat 01-02515 hanger that works just as well. Below are my suggestions for compliance requirements for older buildings to make them accessible for wheelchair bound people. 1. Softer springs on doors 2. Air vents in Bath doors 3. Handles inside the stall doors 4. Ramps at curbs 5. Bathrooms large enough to accommodate a wheelchair 6. Low light switches It doesn't seem like I'm asking for a whole lot does it? I don't think that anyone should display the Wheelchair symbol if a wheelchair does not fit in their bathroom! I drive a 4 wheel electric scooter that has the footprint of a narrow wheelchair.

There are some bathrooms that I manage to get into that someone in a regular wheelchair could not, because you can't hold a door open AND maneuver a regular wheelchair with only 2 hands. We need to establish realistic standards for older buildings. I realize that older establishments are probably being forced to make their businesses handicapped accessible, so they paint a blue sign in a parking spot or two and figure that's that. I'm not militant about handicapped accessibility. I won't go to war with an establishment because I can't get into their bathroom. I'll just go some place else. There are too many places for me to fret over the ones that are not totally accessible. What I'm proposing is, that only places with TOTAL accessibility get to display the BLUE WHEELCHAIR! Businesses that do not have room to enlarge their bathrooms, should not be forced to do so. They could display maybe a RED WHEELCHAIR, or some other sign indicating no bathroom facilities, or a slash through the BLUE WHEELCHAIR sign in the parking lot. It's no fun to be eating at a restaurant that displays the Blue Wheelchair sign, and then find out you can't get into the bathroom, especially if you wait to the last minute! This letter is not meant to be a gripe session, but only a conveyance of my thoughts on this accessibility matter. Please feel free to respond. Sincerely, XX Corvallis, OR 01-02516