T. 12-10-93 XX (b)(6) 15 1996 Mr. Fred Burgess Local Union No. 916 AFL-CIO United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America P.O.

Box 1542 Aurora, Illinois 60507 Dear Mr. Burgess: I am responding to your letter concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I apologize for the delay in responding. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Pursuant to that authority, this letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute and it is not binding on the Department. You have asked whether there are any procedures available to you to ensure that specifications and drawings for renovations are in compliance with title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ​ 12101 et seq., before the necessary permits are issued. The first issue raised in your letter is the relationship between State or local law and Federal law in this area. State and local governments are not authorized to enforce the ADA, to monitor compliance therewith, or to grant waivers of the ADA's requirements. Therefore, as you noted, the City of Aurora Building and Inspection Department is not authorized to certify that your proposed specifications and drawings satisfy the requirements of the ADA. Note, however, that the ADA does not preempt State or local law and, therefore, such laws must be complied with in addition to the ADA. As your letter implies, this overlap of State and local law and the Federal ADA can complicate the building process. To

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01-02824 -2address this potential problem, the ADA has provided a process by which State and local governments may submit their building codes to the Department of Justice for certification that the requirements of those codes meet or exceed the requirements of the ADA. If such certification is granted for a State or local code, an entity whose building is built in compliance with the certified code will be able to rely on the certified code as "rebuttable evidence" of compliance with the ADA. Thus, such certification, although not a guarantee against findings of noncompliance, would allow builders to rely on their State or local codes and on the local systems of preliminary investigation, approval, and enforcement, rather than having to do independent reviews of both the local and Federal laws. The process of certification may be initiated by a State or local official or entity who has principal authority for administration of the submitted code. In the absence of such certification, however, the ADA does not create a Federal equivalent to the local code enforcement process. Neither the Department of Justice, nor any other Federal agency, functions as a "building department" to review plans, issue permits or certificates, or provide "interpretations" of the applicable standards. Rather, title III is generally enforced through compliance reviews, complaint investigations, and litigation. In short, the ADA is a civil rights law, rather than a building code, and, like other civil rights laws, it requires each covered entity to use its best professional judgment to comply with the statute and the implementing regulations. There are, however, numerous sources available to assist you in understanding and fulfilling the requirements of the ADA. The primary source of guidance is the Department's title III -

regulation, which includes the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The ADA Standards establish minimum standards for the design and construction of new buildings and for alterations to existing buildings. These standards provide guidance to those in the building industry as to how to provide minimum levels of accessibility. In addition, this Department has issued a title III Technical Assistance Manual designed to assist entities subject to the ADA to understand and satisfy their obligations. Finally, the Department has established a telephone information line to respond to any specific inquiries you may have during your implementation of the ADA requirements. The information line number is (202) 514-0301 (voice) , (202) 514-0381 (TDD) . I am enclosing copies of both the regulation implementing title III of the ADA and the Department's Title III Technical 01-02825

-3Assistance Manual. I hope that this information is helpful to you and that this letter fully responds to your inquiry. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures

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