DJ 202-PL-229 SEP 16 1993

Ms. Barbara M. Japha Counsel -- Real Estate U.S. West Business Resources, Inc. 168 Inverness Drive West, Suite 500 Englewood, Colorado 80112 Dear Ms. Japha: I am writing in response to your June 30, 1992, letter requesting information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements; however, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. Your letter raises the question of whether "non-work equipment reporting facilities" are commercial facilities subject to the new construction requirements under the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The term "commercial facilities" includes nonresidential facilities affecting commerce. Because the facilities under consideration fall into this category, Construction or alteration of the facilities must be carried out in compliance with this Department's accessibility standards. In your conversations with Ken Nakata from this office, you indicated that these "non-work equipment reporting facilities" were telephone "switching stations." We understand these stations comprise either small unstaffed work areas that are infrequently visited by service personnel for repair, service, and maintenance or larger specially constructed metropolitan stations with accessible control rooms and separate equipment work areas housing large racks of equipment accessible only by ladders. We also understand that the smaller, unstaffed cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; Bowen; Nakata; FOIA; MAF.



-2switching stations are arranged in various configurations, including units located below ground and accessible only by manholes, ladders, and narrow stairwells or units located above ground and accessible by several small stairs. Under the Department's regulations, accessibility is not required for non-occupiable spaces accessed only by ladders, catwalks, crawl spaces, very narrow passageways, or freight (nonpassenger) elevators, and frequented only by service personnel for repair purposes. See Section 4.1.1 of the standards for accessible design, found at Appendix A to the Department's regulation implementing title III. Therefore, the smaller switching stations that you described would be exempt from the ADA's accessibility requirements if they constitute a nonoccupiable space and to the extent that they are entered or approached through one of these very limited means. Furthermore, to the extent that smaller switching stations are not located on a "site" (as where a switching station is located beneath a public street and accessible only by manhole), they cannot be deemed "facilities" under the accessibility standards and would again be exempt from the ADA's accessibility requirements. See Section 3.5 (definition of "facility"). Other smaller switching facilities and equipment rooms in larger metropolitan facilities would be deemed "work areas" and should be designed and, constructed so that individuals with disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the areas. See Section 4.1.1(3). They would also be subject to the ADA's accessibility requirements to the extent that they are altered. I have enclosed a copy of the Department's Title III Technical Assistance Manual, which may further assist you in

understanding your obligations under the ADA. I hope this information is useful to you. Sincerely, John Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures Title III Regulation Title III Technical Assistance Manual