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ADA compliance ‘to the maximum extent feasible’

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | ADA |

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that buildings in the United States must be accessible to those who have disabling conditions. If someone is in a wheelchair, for instance, they should not be denied access to a building because it only has a staircase. That building may need to have ramps, elevators and other such devices so that everyone can enjoy equal access to the space.

However, it is important to note that the standards often require that updates and alterations be made “to the maximum extent feasible”. There are some situations in which compliance may be nearly impossible due to the physical constraints of the space itself. Owners are still supposed to increase accessibility where they can, but some steps that would be taken in other buildings may not be required.

The issue with older buildings

Where this often becomes a problem is with older buildings. Newer ones are easier to renovate and brand new construction should already adhere to common building standards under the ADA. But there are many buildings that were constructed decades – if not centuries – ago. In some of these cases, full modern updates – such as installing an elevator shaft – may be virtually impossible.

That being said, buildings are not grandfathered in under the ADA. Just because the business is operating out of an older building doesn’t mean updates aren’t required. The ADA applies retroactively. So it’s important for business owners to understand what is required of them and what changes they can realistically make in order to increase compliance. This can sometimes lead to disputes, so they also need to know about all of their legal options.