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Barrier removal: curb ramps.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public accommodations remove architectural barriers that are structural in nature in existing facilities -- when it is "readily achievable" to do so. This requirement went into effect January 26, 1992. "Architectural barriers" are elements of a facility that impede access by people with disabilities. These barriers include obvious impediments (such as steps and curbs) that prevent access by wheelers.

Under Title II, state and local governments are obligated to provide access to public rights-of-way. The installation of curb ramps should be included in their transition plans for ADA compliance.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommends the installation of curb ramps as an action that may be readily achievable under Title III of ADA. The requirements for curb ramps listed here are from the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), published in the Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 144, July 26, 1991.

Following is a summary of the requirements for curb ramps (consult ADAAG for complete requirements):

* Curb ramps complying with ADAAG shall be installed wherever an accessible route crosses a curb.

* The least possible slope shall be used for any ramp. The maximum slope of a ram in new construction shall be 1:12 (1" vertical rise in 12" horizontal length).

* Curb ramps and interior and exterior ramps to be constructed on sites or existing buildings or facilities where space limiatations prohibit the use of 1:12 slope or less may have slopes between 1:10 and 1:12, for maximum rise of 6".

* The minimum width of a curb ramp shall be 36", not including flared sides.

* Surface of the curb ramp shall be stable, firm, and slip-resistant.

* If a curb ramp is located where pedestrians must walk across it or where it is not protected by handrails or a guardrail, it shall have flared sides with a minimum slope of 1:10 (1" vertical rise in a 10" horizontal length).

* Built-up curb ramps shall not project into vehicular traffic lanes.

* Currently the law requires curb ramps to have a detectable warning extending their full width and depth. This would be a standardized surface feature, built in or applied, to warn visually impaired people of the change in path elevation.

Providing accessible parking an necessary curb ramps is considered "readily achievable barrier removal" and, in some cases, may qualify for federal-tax incentives. For small business (less that $1 million in gross receipts per year or no more than 30 full-time employees), a tax credit is available under Section 44 of the IRS Code. Larger business are allowed a tax deduction for barrier removal under Section 190 of the IRS Code. For information on these tax incentives, call PVA's Advocacy Program at (800) 416-7709.

For a free copy of ADAAG, contact the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111. (800) USA-ABLE (voice/TDD).

The information furnished here is a general description of the federal guidelines for the Americas With Disabilities Act. It does not provide obligations that may apply under state or local law. Local attorneys or achitects should be consulted where necessary.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Paralyzed Veterans of America
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Washington Scene; In Depth
Author:Daley, Rich
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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