T. 9-1-94 DJ 202-PL-842 SEP 7 1994 Judge Craig S.

Albert Chardon Municipal Court 108 South Hambden Street Chardon, Ohio 44024-1285 Dear Judge Albert: This is in response to your letter regarding application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to renovation of the Chardon Municipal Court of Geauga County, Ohio. 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. Title II of the ADA applies to all services, programs, and activities provided or made available by a State or local government, including the operation of courts. Title II requires that whenever a covered facility, or part thereof, is altered, the altered portion of the facility must, to the maximum extent feasible, be made accessible to people with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. S 35.151(b). A public entity may choose to apply either the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A (except that the elevator exception of the ADA Standards does not apply to title II entities), or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. pt. 101-19.6, Appendix A, as the standard for accessibility of alterations. 28 C.F.R. S 35.151(c). Under title II, therefore, all renovated areas of the Chardon Municipal Court building must be made accessible. In addition, if the ADA Standards are applied, whenever a primary function area of the building is renovated, the path of travel to that area must also be made accessible unless the cost would be disproportionate to the cost of the alteration to the primary

function area. 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A, S 4.1.6(2). If, on the other hand, UFAS is applied, and if the renovation is a substantial alteration, then a public entity must, in addition to cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Blizard, Hill, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\hille\policylt\albert.ltr 01-03425 -2making the altered area accessible, provide at least one accessible route, at least one accessible entrance, and accessible toilet facilities. 41 C.F.R. pt. 101-19.6, S 4.1.6(3). The Department of Justice does not grant waivers or exemptions from the accessibility standards. However, in applying the chosen accessibility standard to alterations, some flexibility is permitted. Under the ADA Standards, strict compliance is not required where it would be technically infeasible (i.e, where it would require removal of a load-bearing structural member or where existing physical or site constraints prevent compliance). 36 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A, S 4.1.6(1)(j). Under UFAS, strict compliance is not required where it would be structurally impracticable (i.e., it would require removal of a load-bearing structural member or it would result in increased cost of 50% or more of the value of the element involved). 41 C.F.R. pt. 101-19.6, Appendix A, S 4.1.6(3). In addition, departures from the ADA Standards are permitted where the alternatives will provide substantially equivalent or greater access. 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A, S 2.2. For areas that are not being altered, title II requires a public entity to ensure that the services, programs, or activities provided in those areas, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible. This requirement does not necessarily require a public entity to make structural changes to unaltered areas if there are other effective means of providing program access. In choosing among means of providing program access, however, a public entity must give priority to methods that provide the most integrated setting appropriate. 28 C.F.R. S 35.150(b). The requirements applicable to your particular situation can be found in the enclosed regulation implementing title II. I am

also enclosing the regulation implementing title III of the ADA, which includes the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. I hope that this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures 01-03426