ADA Accommodation #3: Principles of Signage*

Signage is one of the “Readily Achievable” statuses under ADA Accommodation. Basically, this means that you should be able to afford to achieve this ADA Accommodation. (For further detail see here: ADA Accommodation Cost.) Signage is also one of the most least understood ADA Accommodations.


ADA Requirements for Signage:

While there are many different requirements for when signs should be placed, here are some general guidelines.

  • Signage should be placed when there are multiple paths of travel or when points of destination (such as main entrance) is unclear.  The pedestrian circulation path should coincide with the accessible route.  So directional signage from the accessible parking to the main entrance, or from an assembly area to a restroom are prime candidates for adding signage.  We’ve all had problems locating where the restrooms or where a main entrance is, but that problem can become compounded if you are mobility impaired.
  • Directional signage is not required to have Braille.  But signage to permanent rooms and locations should have signage.  Braille should be Grade 2 Braille.   So Braille signage must be present for stairs, elevators and rooms.
  • Braille signage must be accompanied by raised lettering.  This means that if it says “Room 32” then the lettering for “Room 32” must be raised.
  • The Braille for signage must not be located where there is danger.  If someone is reading the braille but the sign is in the door swing, that’s a problem.  Someone reading the sign could be hit by the door.  The ADA 2010 has the added requirements for the placement of the signs to clarify the unclear 1990 requirements.  Placement of the signs include 48-60 inches on center above the finished floor measured from the highest tactile character and centered a minimum of 9 inches from the door swing.  In California, there are requirements for restroom signs to be placed additionally on the door.  These signs must not have Braille on the swing-side of the door.  (ADA Accommodation for Restroom Signs in California)
  • The contrasting color requirements for the signs apply not only to the differences between the background of the sign and the lettering of the sign but also between the sign and the wall color.  Blending the sign into the wall does not make for accessible signage.  Likewise, reflective or semi-reflective signs are non-compliant.  We mention that also here:  ADA Accommodations #2:  Restrooms
  • There are added requirements for the proportions and spacing of each of the elements in the sign so be sure to check for these specific requirements.  For instance, elevator signage must be a minimumm of 2″ high for the jambs.


Discussion of ADA Accommodations

Sign Picture #1: Visibility

This picture is of a parking sign.  While required at parking spaces, this sign is both too low for the ADA requirements (which want a minimum height of 60 inches for all head parking signs), and this sign is not easily visible, as the plants around it partially cover the sign.  Where plants and signs are concerned, all signage should be easily visible.  This means that it is visible from the general circulation path, either of vehicles (if the sign is for drivers) or for pedestrians (if the sign is for pedestrians).  The ADA has the additional requirement that the parking head signs be visible to on-coming drivers seated on the driver’s seat.  (This means that the sign can’t be too high).

While there is no requirement for the maximum height of signage, the California Building Code (CBC) has the additional requirement that if in the circulation path, the head parking sign must be a minimum of 80 inches high as measured to the bottom of the sign.  So this California code requirement does not apply if the sign is wall mounted.  What this means is that if the parking warning sign (under CBC 1129B.4) is post mounted in the circulation path, it must have the lowest edge at 80 inches high from the path.  If this sign is on the wall, it may be less than the 60 inches required by the ADA, as it is not required by Federal law to be there.


Sign Picture #2 & #3: Latch side Signage and attending clear floor space

The latch side of a door is the side of the door where the handle is.  On that side, there must be a sign to designate that space if it is a permanent room or space.  So for an office, as the offices are numbered, there should be a sign present with raised letters and braille.  That sign must be of contrasting color.  Restrooms also must have a six by six area for a pictogram on this sign with an icon for mens, womens, unisex or family.  There is an additional requirement for clear floor space of 18 inches centered under this latch side sign.

This second picture does not have that latch side sign, it only has the California door sign required by the CBC.  By the looks of the drinking fountain, this door also would not have the clear floor space of 18 inches unless they removed the drinking fountain.

Likewise, this third picture violates the latch side sign height requirement and the floor clearance requirement.  There is a stool in the clear floor space.  The stool could be easily removed, and should be, as it is a barrier.

Additionally, the placement of the latch side sign as being so close to the door creates a hazard as someone who is reading the sign could be hit by the door swing. The 1990 ADA standards were unclear as to how far the sign should be from the door — the verbiage stated that the sign should be placed so that the door swing would be at least 3 inches from someone reading the door. At its current location, this would not be the case. This sign should be re-mounted so as to be a minimum of 9 inches centered from the door.






Sign Picture #4 & #5: Parking Warning Sign Visibility

In California, this sign is required either at the head of each accessible parking space or at every entrance to the parking lot. We had a client recently ask us if it was okay to mix and match. Mixing and matching isn’t addressed by the code but the principle behind this sign should be that a driver should have to encounter this sign on her way to park — and be warned that if she parked in the parking space reserved for the disabled she better have the proper disabled placard.

So placing the sign on a pole that isn’t even remotely close to the parking lot entrance, or placing the sign in such a way that it faces the wrong way defeats the purpose of presenting the sign to drivers. Likewise, in this photo allowing graffiti to be plastered all over the sign, or allowing the graffiti and stickers to persist on the sign makes a business liable for a lawsuit. (This sign must also be filled out with the telephone number to retrieve the car, or the tow-lot/police station to be fully compliant.)

As a stronger statement about signage is that it must be clearly visible. If the sign is damaged, turned the wrong way as in sign #5 (it’s not facing on-coming drivers, as it’s facing away from the street) then that facility is liable for not being in compliance.


ADA Compliance Takeaway

So you understand, the point of all these articles is to educate you readers about what ADA compliance entails.  Both what to do, how to approach it, how to best comply and what the common pitfalls for complete ADA compliance are.

Education is mostly free.  I have to spent a few hours, maybe a day and a half each week, working on articles, and you have to take time to read it, to shift through the multitude of available information.

Ultimately, though, we make a living doing ADA inspections and ADA consultation.

We  do know the laws and ADA regulations, but we don’t know your facility.

I can write about the most common and glaring problems, but I can’t advise you on your particular site.  Even if you submitted pictures, I can’t measure slope or spot issues you may not know about.  If you find this information helpful, feel free to drop an email or a comment.  Submit a picture too, if you like.  I can email you back with an opinion.  (Money is even more appreciated!)

But seriously, give me some genuine feedback and let me know if this was helpful or if you would like me to cover a specific topic.  If I get enough requests, I’ll take the time to write an article on it.  If you’re interested in having us apply our knowledge to your place of business/place of public accommodation in the form of an ADA consultation, by all means call us at 866 982 3212 or email us at

*Note: The California Building Code may have changed its requirements since the writing of this article.

ADA Accommodation #2: Readily Achievable Restroom*

Welcome back!

For this installment, we will cover restroom accessibility.  For considerations regarding facility management or considerations on how to modify the restroom beyond simple, readily achievable items, I would recommend listening to this podcast found on  You can find the podcast here:

ADA consideration tips for Contractors and Property Managers

Now, if you had listened to this podcast, and you’re a leasee or a small business owner, you’re probably thinking that can’t be something I can do… in a long term solution, that may have to be done eventually but not right now.  Since this post is about providing tips on what can be done right now it’s got to be simpler and less intrusive on the structure of your restroom.  This is what readily acheivable means.


What is a Readily Achievable Accommodation?

Readily achievable is defined as providing alterations to existing facilities that are “to the maximum extent feasible”. The maximum extent feasible has to do with an entity’s financial threshold. If you are a smaller entity, your financial resources would be much less than a larger entity. So readily achievable accommodations changes depending on who you are. If you want a larger picture as to how readily achievable accommodations, you can go here to read more about the larger picture:

How to Determine your ADA Liability Cost


There isn’t any magical fixes, this is simply a matter of knowing what the laws are.  We will cover four pictures.


Discussion of ADA Accommodations

Restroom SignageRestroom Picture #1: Proper Signage

If you’ve looked online for signage requirements, you’ll understand there are height and space requirements.  Those are pretty specific — and we won’t get into that right now ( we will cover this later).  My point, is that’s not well understood how to go about purchasing the proper signs.  Proper restroom signs need braille and raised lettering.  Whether this goes on the door, depends a great deal on the door swing.  For instance, these doors open out, so having raised letter and braille on these door signs would be a hazard.  For more detailed information about this, you can go here:

ADA Restroom Signage

In this picture though, you can see how the sign blends with the color of the wall.  The requirement for “contrasting color” applies not only to the pictogram and the lettering against the background of the sign but also between the sign and the wall.  It’s understandable that the owner of this restaurant probably wanted signage that would blend into the color of his wall so as to be unobtrusive.  But that does defeat the point, doesn’t it?  For someone who is legally blind, they may not be able to see the sign is there if it’s too small.  The large size of the sign contrasting with the color of the wall is meant to draw attention to the presence of the sign.  An individual who is blind could then walk up to the sign and touch it, and read the braille or trace the lettering and understand if this restroom is or is not meant to service them.


Restroom AmenitiesRestroom Picture #2: Amenity Height

One of the most common requirements for the accessibility of restroom amenities is the height of restroom amenities. The point of providing these items to the public is so that the public can use them.  Providing goods and services to everyone equally is the point of the ADA.  The height is not the only dimension to be considered.  Height is part of something called “reach range”.  There’s not enough space to go over in detail how the reach range is affected by approach or over-reaches but in general, the California Code of References specifies that at least one of the each type of restroom amentities must be at maximum 40 inches above the finished floor.  This means that if paper towels AND a dryer is made available than one of each must be at 40 inches to the operating point.  For mirrors, this should be at 40 inches.  For towels with controls, the control must be at 40 inches.  For soap dispensers, the dispenser must be at 40 inches.

In this restroom, the mirror here is at the threshold of 40 inches.  You can scale the mirror height through the titles and it’s pretty close to 40.  They definitely need to measure that height to the reflective edge.  Now, knowing what is at 40 inches looks like in this restroom, you can note that the paper towel dispensers are too high.  This can be resolved by either lowering one of the dispensers or by installing a lower dispenser in order to make paper towels available to everyone.  (This can be as simple as providing paper towels on the counter itself.  Of course such a ‘fix’ would require active monitoring so that the paper towels will always be available.)

For the soap dispensers, there are two.  One is too high.  One is lower than 40 inches but has a reach depth that is too deep.  In fact, it’s likely that all four amenities are too deep.   (I did not measure this restroom.)  In general, each amentity must have clear floor space under it so that someone in a chair can have enough space to go up to the item and reach it.  A good rule of thumb is that at 40 inches…


lavatoryRestroom Picture #3: Sinks

The ADA 2010 simplified the knee clearance under sinks.  This sink has an interesting design and probably meets the requirements for knee clearance. (I did not measure this sink).  But just from looking at it, I see 2 other issues.

The second issue has to do with the pipes wrapping.  Wrapping pipes requires that the hot water input and the drainage be wrapped in insulating materials.   From this picture, it’s clear that the sink on the left is wrapped.  What isn’t clear is that that this sink is identical to the sink on the right.  If one sink of all of them were lowered, then that would be the accessible sink.  But if the dimensions of all the sinks are the same and there is no identifying sign that the sink on the left were otherwise the accessible sink, then this business might as well not have wrapped their sink.  They are still at risk to having their customer be burned by the hot water pipes simply because there is little in way of identifying the wrapped sink.

The second issue has to do with the bowl height.  While the code says that the top of the sink apron, or the sink counter, shall be no higher than 34 inches.  The issue isn’t just so the counter top is at 34 inches, but also so that someone can get their hands in the bowl to wash their hands or wash their face.  The bowl looks to add 6 inches, so even if they had knee clearance at 29 inches which is the minimum, adding another 6 inches puts them at 35, too high to be compliant.


urinalRestroom Picture #4: Urinal

The last image we will discuss is the urinal.  The urinal requirements are pretty much the same as any other point of operation although there are two added requirements specific to urinals.  This urinal has the needed depth (the rim extends far enough from the back wall) but the height is too high.  Urinals are required to have the projecting edge to be 14 inches from the back wall minimum.  The rim height should be a maximum of 17 inches from the finished floor (judging from the picture, this one looks to be at least 2 feet from the finished floor.)

There are three additional considerations, the clear floor space, the slope of the floor and the flush control.

From the photo there are no obvious floor slope issues, but you can tell that the trash can is awfully close to the urinal.  It may interfere with the clear floor space.  This is a matter of policy, this large facility should instruct their janitorial staff to place the trash can somewhere else.

Also visible from the photo is the flush control.  You’d recognize this control to be automatic, as it has a sensor.  But if this control should have an additional push button for added flushing ability, then this urinal control should be within 54 inches of the finished floor.  Remember, 40 inches applies to the amenities.  54 inches is the side reach range if the wheelchair user reached up from the side of the chair.  48 inches is the front reach range.


This concludes our discussion.


ADA Compliance Takeaway

So you understand, the point of all these articles is to educate you readers about what ADA compliance entails.  Both what to do, how to approach it, how to best comply and what the common pitfalls for complete ADA compliance are.

Education is mostly free.  I have to spent a few hours, maybe a day and a half each week, working on articles, and you have to take time to read it, to shift through the multitude of available information.

Ultimately, though, we make a living doing ADA inspections and ADA consultation.

We  do know the laws and ADA regulations, but we don’t know your facility.

I can write about the most common and glaring problems, but I can’t advise you on your particular site.  Even if you submitted pictures, I can’t measure slope or spot issues you may not know about.  If you find this information helpful, feel free to drop an email or a comment.  Submit a picture too, if you like.  I can email you back with an opinion.  (Money is even more appreciated!)

But seriously, give me some genuine feedback and let me know if this was helpful or if you would like me to cover a specific topic.  If I get enough requests, I’ll take the time to write an article on it.  If you’re interested in having us apply our knowledge to your place of business/place of public accommodation in the form of an ADA consultation, by all means call us at 866 982 3212 or email us

**Note: The California Building Code may have changed its requirements since the writing of this article.

ADA Accommodation #1: Parking Tips & the Path of Travel*

In the past we had a series called “Access foibles” which featured one image, with an explanation or tip of what was in or out of compliance.

These images did not prove very useful for our readership because you all had to look at each one to find a discussion of what you found relevant.

So I am going to try posting an extended explanation, to make things easier for you.

This article is about ADA compliant parking and the path of travel requirements.  This discussion is NOT meant to be exhaustive.  If it was, I would probably need to write a small novel.

I am going to cover 3 images.


About these ADA Compliance Photos
For the record, none of these images here resulted directly from any ADA compliance study.  These images were photographed by me, on my cell phone in my journeys across Southern California.  The properties depicted do not belong to anyone I know, and are only discussed on here for educational reference as to their ADA compliance.  I am not going to do anything else with these images, nor do I keep track of where each image originates.

If anything, the glaring ADA violations discussed in this image should impress upon you all how ubiquitous ADA violations are, and how easy it is to find a place that isn’t in compliance.

That being said, there are two major considerations for any kind of ADA compliance:

  1. The dimensions of the item in question
  2. How that item is located in relation to the path of travel

The first item is particularly difficult to surmise because it’s dependent on what the different studies and committees have decided is both achievable for businesses and most helpful for those who need those dimensions.  The first item is also the easiest to look up because it’s specifically dimensioned.

The second item is a little harder to do because it’s according to certain principles, such as the pedestrian envelope.  The pedestrian envelope isn’t a specific construction — it’s an amalgamation of the different needs of pedestrians, be they semi-mobile, on wheels, completely ambulatory, or slightly ambulatory.  Much like egress and ingress (that the Fire Marshal would use to determine the requirements for exit and entrances, as well as the number of those portals), the pedestrian envelope must always have a certain number of requirements.  What this article is about is how the pedestrian envelope affects actual parking spaces.


ADA Requirements for the Parking

I don’t intend to discuss too much about the specific parking requirements.  That’s pretty cut and dry, either you meet the measurements or you don’t.  People understand that.  The requirements for parkings for the 2010 ADA has changed a little, but there are exceptions to allow for older CA parking which exceeded the original 1990 ADA parking requirements.  I’ll discuss the parking in a later post but in general parking should have:

  • 60 inches for the non-van access aisle.  Having 60 inches for the van access aisle is required under 2010 ADA but if you have a 96 inch access aisle, you need to have 108 inches of width for the van space.  If your van access aisle is only 60 inches then your van space width needs to be 132 inches.  You measure the spaces from the center of the line to the center of the other lines.  We have worked for places that have been sued because the contractor measured the parking from outside to outside, shaving off 4 inches from the requirements.  This is part of what’s known as “safe harbor” but you can’t rely on the older measurements.  For more details on the concept of the “safe harbor” see:  Department of Justice: ADA Primer for Small Businesses
  • The slope for both the access aisle and the parking space need to be on the same level AND the slopes cannot be greater than 1:48 inches in any direction.  If your parking space slumps, we would recommend that you either consider locating your accessible parking elsewhere, or that you try and level the space.  Van lifts won’t deploy if it detects that the ground is uneven.
  • Signs should be clearly visible to drivers who want to park in the space.
  • The signs should NOT say “handicapped”  (California, Vehicle Code § 22511).  You should replace your sign if it says this, as a lawsuit costs far more than replacing the sign.
  • The van space must be marked as being “van accessible.”
  • Sign heights for CA and the ADA are different, but in general the bottom edge of your sign should be above 80 inches when in the path of travel.  Many business owners seem to think this is funny, asking if they can place the sign at 13 feet above grade.  There is no upper limit, but again the sign needs to be visible to on-coming drivers.

Bewarned: This list is not exhaustive.  Also be aware that laws do change.  This list may become inaccurate.  I’ll try to remember to update it, but if you’re reading this list a year from now, be warned that it may be faulty, especially if the California Code of Regulations Title 24 changes (which is the next known update).


ADA Requirements for Path of Travel

The idea behind the path of travel is to provide a zone of safety around the pedestrian.  This zone, with attending requirements needs to go anywhere the public is allowed to go.  There are still ADA requirements for employee only areas (especially as put in by Title 1) but as a rule of thumb, the path of travel only needs to end up to the employee areas, including the door.  Some general path of travel requirements are:

  • No slopes greater than 5% without handrails.  Slopes greater than 5% require handrails and are considered ramps.
  • Door landings do different in size, but in general, each door landing with its latch-side clearance needs to have a steepness no greater than 1:48 in any direction.
  • Accessible paths of travel need to be pointed out with signage
  • At least one of each type of good or service must be located on the path of travel so that everyone has access to it.  This means that a bar upstairs doesn’t need to be accessible if there is an identical bar on the first floor (AND if all the amenities are the same.  This means that if a private party rents out the upstairs area, there is potential for a lawsuit).
  • The California Building Code requires at least 48 inches of width along external paths of travel with a recommendation of 60 inches.  For existing buildings this can go down to 36 inches for the ADA depending on hardship.
  • Objects which protrude into the pedestrian envelope greater than 4 inches for wall mounted objects (12 inches for post mounted) are considered hazards in the path of travel.  A path of travel should be devoid of these objects.  The area of projection is in general, between 27 and 80 inches above the finished floor.  This means that doorways that are lower than 80 inches are considered hazards.  Common protruding objects include fire extinguishers, signs and counters.
  • The cross-slope for a path of travel cannot be greater than 1:48 inches.
  • Detectable warnings are required under the California Building Code for vehicular hazard areas and transit platforms.  This requirement isn’t included under the ADA 2010 but it is included in the ADAAG 2004 and will probably be reintroduced under the Public Right of Way Access Guide which is supposed to come out soon.
  • No change in vertical level greater than 1/2 inch is allowed.  Changes in level between 1/4 and 1/2 inches should be beveled at a 45 degree slope.

Like the list above for parking, this list is not exhaustive and may change as laws and regulations change.  So be warned if you want to use this to assess your site.  Nonetheless, this gives you some idea of what some of the requirements are.


Discussion of ADA Accommodations

Parking Space Picture #1: Security as Barriers

Even, if you have not read ADA Requirements above, you should understand why this image is here.  From every disabled parking space there should be an access aisle.  This access aisle must connect to the accessible path of travel.  Failure to do so results in what is known as an inaccessible parking space.

How must this parking space connect?  Firstly, individuals with disabilities tend to travel slower than individuals who do not have disabilities.  One could be in a wheelchair, or they could use a walker, or cane, or be legally blind.  Preferably, paths of travel should not cross vehicular traffic.  But when they inevitably do, areas that are shared by driver and pedestrian must be blue striped and hatched like in the photo.  These areas are known as crosswalks.

Crosswalks are an integral part of the accessible path of travel.For this purpose, the blue striping helps alert both drivers and pedestrians that this is an area reserved for those who walk.

Individuals who are legally blind may not be able to see very well.  They may be able to see the blue striping if it contrasts with the pavement but they definitely cannot see other drivers’ faces.  This means that they cannot tell if a driver sees them or not.  Legally blind individuals look like everyone else.  Drivers may assume that such a person sees them and will stop walking.

Blocking this crosswalk with a fence presents a problem, because now the disabled individual doesn’t know where to go.  They may not see the fence until they walk into it.  Many of you might also notice that this fence is movable.  Besides the fact that I took this photo during business hours (the business expects people to enter and exit through a different driveway) and the fence is closed…

There is however, a second problem with this photo.

If you look at the bottom of the fence, there is a guide rail for the wheel.  This guide rail is larger than 1/2 inches and presents a barrier for individuals who shuffle their feet (or their walker) or individuals in a manual wheelchair.  Many of us who are also not disabled have tripped on such barriers.

The second image presents more parking and path of travel issues.


A trash can blocks the accessible aisle.Parking Space Picture #2: Amenities as Barriers

This picture should be  pretty self explanatory.  Here we have an access aisle that is supposed to use the break in the fence as a way of transition onto the general pedestrian path.

But there’s a trash can in the way.  The trash can is not mounted, but it is made of concrete so as to be heavy (so it won’t get stolen).  This means it cannot be moved easily.

Nonetheless, the parking site is small, and this franchisee decided to put the trash can here for the convenience of  their patrons. Whoever decided to put the trash can there doesn’t understand that this presents three problems.

The first issue stems from a reduction in the path of travel.  There isn’t enough space now for the pedestrian to maneuver with their mobility devices around the trash can.  (The access aisle is also rather narrow, being in-compliant, but that’s not easily visible in the photo unless you have experience measuring such a space).  The presence of this barrier prompts the franchisee patron to travel around the back of their vehicle into the drive-thru, presenting a possible opportunity for an accident.  You can imagine the lawsuit which would ensue if that happened!

The second issue stems from a barrier in the access aisle for the van chair lift.  A van chair lift won’t deploy if there’s an object in the way.  Again, the disabled individual is trapped and needs to move their vehicle or park somewhere else.

The third issue is simply that such a trash can would block the passenger side door of anyone trying to exit the vehicle.  Disabled individuals can drive, but sometimes they do not.  Someone who is mobility impaired has enough problems getting in and out of their vehicle.  To ask them to squeeze out of their space presents an added barrier which may be insurmountable.  If such a patron tried to squeeze out of their vehicle, they might fall and hurt themself.  You can imagine the problems here that could result from that situation.

You can bet that this franchisee will probably say Why do we need to comply?  No one who is disabled ever comes in this store! Well, now you know why no one who is disabled goes to their store.  Such potential clients probably saw this trash can and decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

And after everything is said and done, why make things harder for your customers to give you money?


a curb ramp dominates the access aisle, making the aisle and curb ramp difficult to use.Parking Space Picture #3: Curb Ramps

The first two images dealt with issues that a building inspector may not realize as in both situations, it’s possible the owner decided to place those barriers there, unwittingly violating the ADA.  This image is a little different because it requires professional assistance to be implemented.

If the pictured construction looks sharp, it’s because this is brand new, as of 2011.  For those of you who know the construction and design process, it’s more than likely that this construction had to be given a thumbs up from the plan check counter.  Even still, this is a clear case where not only the ADA is violated but also the local building ordinance failed to provide guidance and protection to both future patrons and the building owners.

For those of you curious the violated requirements in question are quoted below:

Built-up curb ramps shall be located so they do not project into vehicular traffic lanes. (1127B.5(1))

Besides the common sense understand that access aisles should not connect to a curb without a curb ramp, there’s also a requirement that curb ramps need to be present where there are curbs.  And curbs there are!

Pedestrian ways which are accessible to persons with disabilities shall be provided from each such parking space to related facilities, including curb cuts or ramps as needed. Ramps shall not encroach into any accessible parking space or the adjacent access aisle. (1129B.3(3), my own emphasis.)

Now if this was not enough, there’s also a requirement for the access aisle slope to be less than what a curb ramp needs in order to be functional.  The presence of any curb ramp in the access aisle would violate this requirement.  For your reference, curb ramps are any sloping surface which transverses a curb.  Curb ramps can slope up to a maximum of 8.33%.  8.33% is 1:12 meaning that for each vertical inch, a curb needs to have a horizontal length of one foot.  In California, curbs are steeper than in most other states.  Usually curbs are six inches (or more) high.

Surface slopes of accessible parking spaces and access aisles shall be the minimum possible and shall not exceed one unit vertical in 50 units horizontal (2-percent slope) in any direction. (1129B.3(4))

I didn’t measure these curbs but obviously, 2% < 8.33%.

Now understand that these three violations are just the California Building Code!  The ADA has matching Accessibility Guidelines also similarly violated.  If anything, in order to be compliant, instead of built-up curb ramps that project into the access aisle there should have been curb cuts installed.  A curb cut would have also used less concrete as the head walk could have been lowered to street level.

Insofar as how this affects people with disabilities, a curb ramp in the access aisle presents an uneven surface such that a van chair lift will not deploy.  Wheelchairs that have to be placed on an uneven surface also have a tendency to roll.  Grandma has enough problems walking for short distances, for her to have to deploy the chair and sit on it is hard enough without also having to chase after the chair.

The access aisle closest to the camera may be wide enough for wheelchair deployment.  But to place a curb ramp alongside it in this manner creates a side flare which becomes a potentially insurmountable barrier.  Transitioning onto steep surfaces tips wheelchairs, making it unsafe.  For someone in a wheelchair to use this ramp, they would have to go into the vehicular right of way to enter it.

The large curb ramp also invites delivery trucks to park in front, blocking the disabled spaces.  The ADA also requires that pedestrian curb ramps not be used as loading ramps.

What’s the solution if you are this building owner?  Well, relocating the access parking might be an option, or extending the cross walk so the curb ramp could be utilized.  This really depends on the rest of the site configuration, however.


Well, that’s it for now!


ADA Compliance Takeaway

So you understand, the point of all these articles is to educate you readers about what ADA compliance entails.  Both what to do, how to approach it, how to best comply and what the common pitfalls for complete ADA compliance are.

Education is mostly free.  I have to spent a few hours, maybe a day and a half each week, working on articles, and you have to take time to read it, to shift through the multitude of available information.

Ultimately, though, we make a living doing ADA inspections and ADA consultation.

We  do know the laws and ADA regulations, but we don’t know your facility.

I can write about the most common and glaring problems, but I can’t advise you on your particular site.  Even if you submitted pictures, I can’t measure slope or spot issues you may not know about.  If you find this information helpful, feel free to drop an email or a comment.  Submit a picture too, if you like.  I can email you back with an opinion.  (Money is even more appreciated!)

But seriously, give me some genuine feedback and let me know if this was helpful or if you would like me to cover a specific topic.  If I get enough requests, I’ll take the time to write an article on it.  If you’re interested in having us apply our knowledge to your place of business/place of public accommodation in the form of an ADA consultation, by all means call us at 866 982 3212 or email us at

*Note: The California Building Code may have changed its requirements since the writing of this article.

ADA Requires Proactive Approach


This article from which is geared towards property managers is a short article on ADA compliance.  The most interesting point, I thought, was that for ADA compliance should be proactive because waiting for a lawsuit to be filed could mean that a manager would lose control over the process.

The issue of accessibility is never too far from the minds of maintenance and engineering managers in institutional and commercial facilities. But mid-March 2011 is among the most important moments related to this issue in the last two decades.

Why? Long-awaited final regulations revising existing laws from the U.S. Department of Justice under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design, became effective March 15, 2011.

Joan Stein, president and CEO of Accessibility Development Associates, presented a session on the impact of the new ADA regulations at the recent NFMT Conference and Expo in Baltimore. Attendees learned about some important provisions of the new regulations, as well as the ongoing need to properly address access to their facilities.

You can read the complete article directly here: ADA Compliance Requires a Proactive Approach.

SRS Smith, Swimming Pool Access

This is some useful information from SRS Smith which provides Swimming Pool Equipment.

They are located in Oregon and Tennessee but should be familiar with CA pool laws. Their guides are published and I have linked them below as for the Americans with Disabilities Act (2010), they are useful.

Remember, under the ADA 2010 “safe harbor” does not apply to swimming pools which need to be compliant for the new requirements effective back in Sept 15, 2010.

Accessible Swimming Pool Guide

ADA Swim Equipment Guide


So if you have a pool and any equipment associated with pools, please look at these standards and see if your pool access is ADA compliant. Also you can contact them at if you have specific Pool Questions!


As always feedback, comment and questions are appreciated.  Call me at 866 982 3212 or email me at  We want to hear your concerns, thoughts, and feedback!

3 Steps to follow after Receiving an ADA Compliance Letter

What do you do when you receive an ADA compliance letter? The general gist is pretty standard:

  • Here are some items that are out of compliance
  • These laws say you are in violation
  • Pay our firm money to settle or we will take you to court

This is a nightmare situation for a small business owner.  You never have the resources to fight this, nor the time to look deeply into it yourself.  You might have heard a few things about this on the news or from your friends.  But you’re not an expert. This situation is bound to give you endless nights tossing and turning, feelings of helplessness, anger and disbelief.  Unfortunately, because of your limited resources, as a small business, you are an easy target for litigants.  So what should you do?

First off, I must offer a disclaimer.

I am not an attorney.

I cannot give you legal advice.  For legal advice, contact an attorney (for attorney info see below at step 1).

The most I can offer here, is our experience dealing with our client’s situations.

This article is meant to help guide you so you can make the right decisions.

Instead of making costly decisions.

What do we see our clients do?


The Situation:

An ADA compliance notice should list areas of deficiency in your facility.  The exact details of the violations are always changing so these letters change too.  But in general they follow the three bullet points above.

In the past, such notices were a cookie-cutter list, some of which were invalid and would get thrown out in court. The few items that stuck would prompt you to settle because even if you fought it, those items are legitimate.  In the eyes of the law, really, the only eyes that do count, being in violation with the requirements mean that you need to pay the settlement and then pay both their attorney and your attorney.

Nowadays, the specific tactics have changed as the laws have changed.  Rather than threatening you with a list, half of which could get thrown out, making them look bad, savvier attorneys may threaten you with one or two very simple but legitimate issues.  Then you’re 100% wrong, and you HAVE TO FIX IT AND PAY.

So before we get to the steps, let’s address two scenarios.  What’s the worst that could happen?

The worst that will come from not following these three steps properly is that you will have to fight and lose a lawsuit and then pay the settlement.

Being sued once, if you didn’t learn your lesson the first time, there’s a good chance you will get sued again.  In fact, you could get sued for the very same issue by someone else while you’re still dealing with your first lawsuit.

This has happened to at least one of our previous clients.  They didn’t just refuse our service after asking about what we do during the initial lawsuit.  (They felt that the lawsuit was unjustified because in their words: “We were sure we didn’t do anything wrong.”) They were so emotionally distraught that just talking about the issue caused them to vent at us as though we brought it on them. They didn’t just not hire us, they also refused to hire ANYONE. In fact they refused to DO ANYTHING, as though their stubbornness would make the situation go away. Unfortunately, it did not.

It took them two lawsuits which they both settled before they hired us.

In a different situation, a quasi-government entity had me do an ADA compliance study. The laws yielded them some results which we presented. For what ever reason, this entity decided that an alternate construction was the most cost effective solution, despite our best efforts to warn them that this “solution” broke other laws.

They then got sued by someone else for their brand new construction.

Don’t be stubborn. Compliance is compliance. If you don’t hire us at least follow these steps, get an attorney and then get an ADA expert to study your site.

The Absolute BEST thing you can do to avoid such a letter is to be compliant.  Since the savvier attorneys who litigate such causes have been sending out ADA experts to measure and document violations, your best bet is to become ADA compliant.  You can do this a variety of ways.  You could hire ADA consultants like ourselves, or you could try and do it yourself.  Both options are presented here:

ADA Consultation Guide: What we do and where you can go to learn

Barring that, if you do have such a letter, let me emphasize a few things.

There are three steps to take.

Only three.   Sounds simple enough?  READ ON!


Step 1. The most important thing is to answer the letter.

I cannot emphasize this enough.

If you ignore the letter, in 90 days you will probably be sued in court.  Do NOT throw away the letter. Throwing the letter away or ignoring it, compounds the problem, so that not only did you violate the ADA (thereby committing under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, making your violations an act of discrimination) but you also don’t show good faith.  Intention does not matter.  Your recorded, documented actions do matter.  They matter a great deal.  Ignorance is not an excuse, it’s nearly an admission that you did something wrong, by not being responsible enough to do what you should have done in the first place.

You must be a responsible.

Doing otherwise only weakens your position.

So how do you answer it?  You can write the letter yourself, or you can hire an ADA experienced attorney.  We would recommend the individuals mentioned here:

Frank Chen

Kevin Sawkins

Both of these attorneys are experienced with handling ADA cases.

Even if you write the letter yourself, we still recommend that you hire an ADA consultant.  An attorney by the very nature of their trade can only help you AFTER YOU ARE SUED.  To prevent being sued in the first place, it logically follows that you should become ADA compliant.


Step 2. Get an ADA Compliance Survey

This step seems like a no-brainer.  But you wouldn’t believe the number of people who email or call and insist that their store is compliant because we have wheelchair users come in all the time!

This claim is the equivalent to a business addressing a lawsuit from one of their employees by claiming that their business is compliant because the other employees did not also sue.  This isn’t a defensible position as people don’t have to sue if they don’t want to.  Rather than argue with this excuse, business owners must understand, like it or not, if you open a business, you must follow the letter of the law.

If anything, getting an ADA expert who look at your site to verify the claims is one possible way to get around the problem.  Remember, they are suing you, so the burden of proof is on their side.

You must get the facts.  ADA violations are very dependent on specific measurements.  After all it’s the specific measurements which have gotten tens of thousands of small businesses in trouble.

If this litigant is new to this field, they could have made some errors somewhere, such as claiming that van parking cannot be shared with other access aisles.  We’ve helped attorneys with this.  The intermix of California Building Code and ADA Access Guidelines with all the continuing discussion can be very confusing, even to professionals.  Many websites contain faulty information, or outdated information as do many ADA guidebooks.  A plaintiff new to this field might try to sue you for something that you aren’t required to do.

So getting an expert to verify the claims and then having your attorney talk to their attorney is the best way to resolve this issue.

What kind of expert should you get?  The highest license available on ADA expertise (in fact the only one) is called CASp.  You can read about it here.

ADA Compliance: Why CASp?

The (inexpensive) Cost of ADA Compliance

At this point you should understand that step 2 by itself won’t solve the issue.  You MUST FIX THE VIOLATIONS.  No survey, not even a CASp inspection will solve ADA violations by itself.  You must actively address the issues.  Which brings us to Step 3.


Step 3. Remediate the ADA Violations

So now you have the ADA violations in hand.  What then?  When following up with clients, we are always astounded to hear that they did nothing with our report.  Or they gave it to a contractor who took the report away and never returned.  Maybe I should stop being so surprised.

Ideally, this step should have occurred first.

Doing Step 3 before any notice is received will help PREVENT LAWSUITS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Most lawsuits that happen ask for settlement money, looking for the simplest violations.  These are the most egregious violations since not repairing items that could be easily dealt with shows negligence on the part of ignorant businesses.  The best thing to do then, is to remove that ignorance and do your best to comply with the law.

This doesn’t mean you have to fix everything.  Many of the items are of small expensive.

For instance, insulating pipes could cost as little as 30 dollars.  But buying the proper insulation and not addressing the hot water pipes even if you wrapped the drain, is a problem.  I’ve seen pipes wrapped in duct tape and packing foam.  Is that insulating?  After a while, these things get dirty, get torn off and look awful.  Is that really a solution in the long run?  (Incidentally, Here is a website that sells pipe insulation materials: Plumberex, ADA compliant Solutions.  We met them at a disabilities trade-show last year.)

But insulation as duct tape and foam… that’s something for the courts to decide.  Duct tape may save you 30 dollars, perhaps, but it is grounds for a potential lawsuit.

But wait, why are you trying to save $30 when a lawsuit will cost you thousands?  Aren’t you complying to avoid a lawsuit in the first place?

Best to do is to understand what the law is, and then exceed the letter of the law.


ADA Compliance Takeaway

So okay, these steps are long enough for a blog article.

Step 3 can take some time and effort.  If you don’t have sole responsibility for your parking lot, you may have to talk with your property manager.  I cover those issues above in a link, but I’ll link it again: The (inexpensive) Cost of ADA Compliance

Compliance can take time.  If you are sued, your number one priority should be to hire an attorney, or at least talk to a knowledgeable one.  We work with attorneys, give us a call we can introduce you to some experienced attorneys.

But the urgency of being in a lawsuit situation aside,  obviously education is the way to understand your legal liability.  Step 3 is the only step that will prevent future lawsuits.

To tell you the truth, it’s often too late to do anything but settle after you are sued.  A violation is in fact a violation. Preventive measures can only happen BEFORE a lawsuit.

Obviously then, education is the key.

Compliance is the solution.

But wait.  Compliance requires special knowledge.  Doing your taxes isn’t that easy, and doing a business’s taxes requires quite a bit of commitment upfront and on-going.

So why not hire a good CPA?

It takes architects about 3 months to learn all about the ADA, the different laws and so on.  The problem isn’t the specific building code (although all those numbers can be confusing), it’s all the legality that surrounds it.  And of course, they also need real world experience.

For someone with no experience in this field, it will take them about 6 months before they become able to inspect properties on their own.  At least a year before they can begin to advise people on what to do.  So why wait a year and spend all that effort to save several hundred dollars? Why not hire a good and experienced ADA expert?

Best to get that CASP report right away.


Thoughts?  Questions?  Comment below for feedback, or for more immediate and confidential assistance, call 866 982 3212 or email us at

ADA Guidelines for Small Businesses

As promised, the Department of Justice has posted an ADA Primer for Small Businesses.

This document explains many of the confusing requirements that the ADA has in addition to building code like requirements.  Basically, the safe harbor for older ADA compliance with 1990 standards is an option for businesses wanting to comply with the ADA up until March 15, 2012.  The safe harbor applies to elements on a case by case basis.

After March 15, 2012 businesses WILL NO LONGER HAVE THE OPTION as to which standard they want to comply to.  So if an older standard is easier to achieve, that option will no longer be available after March 15, 2012.  You will have to comply with the 2010 ADA standards.

If you’ve been following us on this blog or if you have been to one of our ADA Seminars on ADA Compliance then you understand that the majority of places of public accommodation are in fact not compliant with even the older ADA 1990 standards.


In  many cases, older standards can be more stringent.  For example, the ADA of 2010 allows some tolerances for the centerline position of toilets.  If you are in California, this might make a difference, or it might not as the California Building Code still applies.

Many of the issues in the PDF affect issues of policy, for instance

  • Braille Menus or readers must be required
  • Service Animals are now defined solely as Dogs (except in one particular case, miniature horses)
  • Communication with Customers must be readily available in NON-Verbal Exchanges

These are the main requirements.  As always, readily achievable barrier removal must be performed whenever possible.  A few examples of these include

  • Lowered Counters
  • Clear floor space underneath controls
  • Steps at the Main Entrance
  • Installing Amenities and Grab bars in the Restrooms
  • Many Parking Accessibility Issues

We will example some of these in details in later articles.  For now, though you should look at the PDF.  Also be aware that the safe harbor does not apply in cases like

  • Accessible Showers
  • Saunas
  • Residential Facilities
  • Play Areas
  • Swimming Pools

There are many more requirements, but if you are an average business owner than you are probably not effected by these.

For now though, this ends the summation of this guide.  The link again, is here:


As always if you have any comments, questions or concerns feel free to call us at 866 982 3212 x1 or email us at

ADA Pricing Guide: How to put a Price Tag on your ADA Liability

One of the scariest things about ADA Compliance for business owners is the lack of a definitive price. If you ask an ADA Consultant about their services, they will give you a wide range of prices for just their service. If you are in California, such an ADA Consultant may mention CASp — the median price of which will be around $2400. CASp has a host of significant benefits, but also some responsibilities for the person getting the survey.

Benefits and Liabilities of CASp

But assuming that you, a small business owner, can even afford $2,400, you’d probably be scared stiff about the Pandora’s Box of cost an ADA Consultant could discover. CASp surveys only find issues, they don’t fix them. Any ADA survey is only the first phase of ADA compliance. No survey — not even CASp — can stop all lawsuits from happening. The only way to completely remove your liability is to become 100% ADA Compliant, which in many cases is prohibitively expensive for a small entity. However, knowledge is power, and a survey does give you the power to significantly reduce your liability. In order to ward off lawsuits, you’ll be able to fix many of the glaring problems.

But what if the survey turns out major problems and you’re suddenly were on the bill for some unknown huge amount of money? Getting your access advice from a contractor is especially scary in this regard because there is always the temptation for them to say you need more expensive fixes than are really necessary.

This is the fear.

But don’t worry too much. The majority of issues for ADA compliance can be quite inexpensive — or even free. Understand that the inexpensive fixes are the ones which serial litigants use to target businesses. Not fixing something which is “readily achievable” makes a business look negligent. Also, given the relative complexity of the both state building code and the different Federal standards, knowing exactly what to do (without making yourself more liable, should you fix the wrong thing) can be quite difficult.

But now you can stop worrying.
This guide is meant to explain the costs of ADA compliance to you, as a small business owner.

(We will cover some of the inexpensive fixes in different articles. You also can take a glance at some FREE ADA Access Tips.)

Case 1: The Mom and Pop Restaurant
So as a small business owner, let’s say you own a small restaurant in a strip mall. Your typical eatery will have around 20 seats. Your average cash flow will be, let’s say, $40,000. What is your liability going to cost?

First off, you’re a small entity. Your threshold for “unreasonable hardship” is low. You are still liable but what you are directly responsible for won’t be enormous.

You’re also renting in a strip mall, so your parking lot is shared. It’s true that you’re still liable for the parking — parking does need to be addressed — but you share this liability with the property management company and landlord. In order to get anything fixed you’re going to have to talk with them. The same is true for any truly expensive renovations. Moving restroom walls, enlarging spaces — all of these require some communication with the property manager. If this management company is huge — while you both share liability, their fiscal responsibility in this matter is greater than yours.

For you to afford CASp would be nearly an “unreasonable hardship” in itself. We wouldn’t recommend that you get a CASp survey. If anything, you should try and get the property management company to get a CASp survey of the entire strip mall, that way all the businesses, including yours, can be covered. If they refuse to get CASp then your best bet is to educate yourself with an access survey so you can at the very least fix the most dangerous problems.

So what can you expect to pay for?

Your biggest ADA costs will probably be

  • lowering a counter
  • installing grab bars…
  • maybe lowering a urinal and a mirror
  • or replacing a sink.
  • You might have to replace or modify some door hardware as well.

We would recommend that you get our recommendation letter. It lists the important issues even if it doesn’t carry the protection and liability that comes with a CASp survey. The cost of everything here, including the letter and the fixes is, broadly speaking, maybe $1,000. Also, don’t forget: As a small entity, you do get the tax credit of up to 50% on ADA compliance from IRS form 8826. Our recommendation letter is covered in that amount.

This doesn’t mean that after you’ve done this work that you’re off the hook for ADA compliance. You still need to comply with the other ADA violations in your parking and restrooms. Work with your property management company. Talk with your neighbors. If you can get them to hire a CASp surveyor to do all the stores, all the better. Get them to fix the parking the restrooms too. After all, they own the property. It will be good for all their future tenants.  For them, it’s a solid investment.

If your property manager is unresponsive or unwilling to do ADA work (they may incorrectly think that the facility is already compliant) then they are exposing you to a huge lawsuit risk. Armed with our recommendation letter or exposure report, you can make your property manager aware of the issues in a registered letter. This may significantly reduce your liability in itself by leaving a paper trail that you are exercising good faith, and attempting to do what is right to comply.

With the recommendation letter, you can and should fix the readily achievable items anyway, they don’t cost that much — and they reduce your liability up to 87%.

Your best long term ADA Compliance solution is to move to a location that IS ADA Compliant. How can you tell if they are ADA compliant? Make them get an exposure report to list everything, or ask to see their CASp report.

Case 2: You’re an attorney at a law firm
You work in an office building. You lease your office suite. Your private practice makes somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000. You’re still not alone in your responsibility for the parking lot, because it’s shared. Additionally, the restrooms you have are private. You don’t allow any public access to them. Any of your clients looking to use the restroom would borrow your key and use the restrooms in the hallway. The lobby, elevator and restrooms are all shared between you and the other office tenants.

What are your liabilities?

Even though the liability is shared, you are still liable for everyone coming from the public right of way, or parking, traveling through the lobby and the elevators and using all the public areas and talking through your office door into any conference room. If you are named in a lawsuit, you will have to deal with it, which probably does mean settling for damages even if you are not the only entity responsible.

You can afford to make readily achievable fixes. We would make the same recommendation as case 1. Your property management company should get a CASp inspection to protect all the businesses inside the office building. Barring that, if they are unresponsive you can get a recommendation letter for everything affecting your office. You should then fix the items you are directly responsible for and forward everything else in a registered letter to your property management company. This way, their responsibility is made clear. If they are still unresponsive, your best long term option is to move to a location that is accessible.

Case 3: A Small Franchisee
Imagine you own a small successful franchisee store, maybe two of them. They could be McDonald’s, or Long John Silver — it doesn’t matter. Your cash flow is close to $1,000,000. You can afford much more, in terms of fixing things. So your threshold for unreasonable hardship is much higher. You can do all the “readily achievable” fixes. You can also afford CASp. We would recommend that you get it. The advantages are many, including a 90 day stay (meaning the opposing attorney can’t rack up fees during those 90 days) and expedited arbitration (also lowering your court fees). These things, of course, won’t deter someone who really wants to sue you because they are trapped in your restroom over night. CASp will deter a serial litigant who wants a quick and easy ADA lawsuit threat and a fast no-hassle settlement. (No hassle for them).

So, if you own the store, or not, you are in a stand-alone store.  You have parking that is unique to your store.  This means that even if you are leasing, you are even more responsible for the parking.  Not only that, you can still afford to get the parking that services your store re-striped.

You might qualify for IRS Form 8826 if you make less than $1,000.000.00 in gross receipts and have no more than 30 full time employees. The restrooms could be a little more difficult, if they are older. If the restroom walls are load bearing you might not be able to afford moving them right away. So that item would have to be deferred, so the cost of ADA compliance is spread over two or three years. If you qualify for IRS Form 8826, you can get a tax credit so your cost will be much lower.
After getting a FULL ADA inspection of everything you can then start to repair everything. You will spend, maybe $10,000 on accessibility and over the course of two or three years fix everything. At the end of three years, you will have a brand new looking restroom, doors and counter to show off to your customers.


Case 4: A Mid-sized Property Management Firm
You manage many properties, maybe 50 or 200. You have several offices all over the place. Your financial resources are deeper. You don’t qualify for IRS Form 8826, although if you have subsidiaries, they might. You’ll have to check with your accountants.Your tenants have been probably been hit with ADA Lawsuits before. Your tenants may or may not have notified you, simply because they were unaware of your shared responsibility. Nonetheless, responsible property managers want to do the right thing. You’ve probably had some ADA surveys performed, but they were not full ADA inspections.  You haven’t gotten a CASp Report because you haven’t heard of it.

You should get CASp for all your properties. Since CASp determines a timeline, you should fix as much as you can according to a timeline, deferred over a few years (I can’t really estimate in general how much you should spend but you should fix the issues) and then advertise your sites as being ADA compliant. Post the CASp certificate on all your storefront windows. If you don’t, you are bound to start losing tenants as they become aware that they are leasing properties not in compliance with the law.

But what about the long-term ramifications? Smart real estate agents will get an ADA survey for all the properties they have an interest in. ADA Compliance is a great fear among many current leasees. Not only that, but there is some interest in the state assembly to forward some ADA liability to Real Estate Agents who lease or sell property that isn’t ADA compliant without full disclosure.

Better get a jump on compliance.

For every property a real estate agent deals with, your agents should order Exposure Reports of property they are looking to broker or CASp surveys on property they manage, so they can leverage the cost of ADA compliance into the leasing, selling (or buying) price.

Now, wouldn’t that be the savvy thing to do? After all, I’m sure the other agents have no idea what the enormous cost of ADA compliance could possibly be…

Conclusion: ADA Compliance is not Fiscally Impossible
So now that you’ve read this, you can begin to put a price tag on accessibility. No one is responsible for fixing all the ADA violations in the world, just your corner of it. And if you are a tiny shop struggling to keep your doors open, you should get together with your neighbors. Get together and bug your property management company. Tell them they are putting you all at risk by ignoring these issues.

After all, fixing a few hundred dollars worth of issues is better than getting a lawsuit. After you’ve got the lawsuit, you have to deal with it on their terms, which won’t be to your favor. You’ll be court ordered to fix this stuff anyway — on top of throwing money away on a settlement.

We’ll even give you a discount for not making us drive out there separately. You can forward your parking issues and your major liability issues to your property manager. If you decide to upgrade your survey to CASp you may get a significant discount.

If your property manager decides not to do anything at least get us to look at your stores collectively. That way you can protect yourself before you move to a property manager who actually wants tenants.

What are you waiting for? Find out how inexpensive ADA compliance can be! You already have an idea now.

CASp Architects are waiting!  We have a variety of ADA compliance products to fit your needs.


Call us at 866 982 3212, extension 1! Or email us at We will be happy to assist you. Our advice is always free.

ADA Compliance Options: Why CASp?

For those of you who don’t know, CASp stands for Certified Access Specialist. The short version of this history is that the California Senate passed a bill, SB 1608, which altered the nature of ADA compliance requirements for businesses.  This was an ambitious bill, pushed forward mainly by the California Chamber of Commerce.  SB 1608 has far reaching effects.  This article discusses some of the benefits of SB 1608 weighed against some of the added liabilities for business owners.

If you want a more detailed history of SB 1608, you can go to the California Chamber of Commerce ADA Reform page.  We’ve extracted some of the key points from their website, as they are quite broad of this lobbying effort.

I assume that you’re a business owner.  If you aren’t, then you’re probably either an attorney, a contractor or an architect (or an activist).  Either way, you’re interested in how SB 1608 impacts businesses, places of public accommodation as defined under Title 3 of the ADA.


Let’s start with the liabilities.  Understanding the benefits are less meaningful if you don’t know the liabilities.

I assume you’re already familiar with the responsibilities of ADA Compliance at your place of business. Basically, your business must work towards becoming 100% ADA Compliant.  There are a few things to consider in the course of this, like what kind of ADA inspection do you want to get, or when you will fix certain items.  Otherwise, the liabilities listed here are what CASp adds to your responsibility.  It’s important to note that ADA inspections are only the first step towards ADA Compliance.  An inspection, not even a CASp inpsection by itself, does ANYTHING to subtract from your duties to comply with the law.  What a complete ADA inspection does, is demonstrate good faith effort.  Inspections also are useful for contractors and architects who are not generally well versed in ADA compliance.


Liabilities of CASp Inspections

CASp and SB 1608 was passed only to protect businesses interested in ADA Compliance.  There are two main considerations.

1. A CASp inspection requires that a timeline be implemented as to when items are to be made in compliance.  There are no standard guidelines for how to assess this — as such a timeline is largely dependent on the financial resources of the entity in question.  This means that any CASp inspector needs to work with the entity in determining an accurate guide as to when items should be fixed.

If the timeline is too strict, the entity may fall behind fixing these items and in the case of an ADA lawsuit, the entity will look faulty.

If the timeline is too lax, in the case of an ADA lawsuit, the entity could have fixed certain times and remained needlessly liable for that time.

Remember the point of CASp is to become ADA compliant.  If you get a CASp Report and then do nothing, you will become more liable over time.  If you display the CASp certification, considering no one else has one, you’ll probably deter ADA lawsuits for a time.  After a time, having the CASp certification with obvious ADA violations will get you sued.  Then you’ll look extremely worse in court for not complying at all.

2.  CASp can be quite expensive, because of the added liabilities to the CASp Inspector in determining the timeline.  The average cost of CASp is $2400.

3. This is not a liability, but it is worth mentioning:  CASp goes into effect only if the site is sued AFTER getting a CASp inspection.  No protection is offered retroactively.

4. A CASp licensed individual is required to be included in building departments.  The original time line stated that such an individual was to be included as of July in 2010, but this date has been moved into 2014.  CASp is meant to bridge State Building Code and ADA guidelines, as most contractors and architects are not well versed in Federal Civil Code.  While having a CASp individual does not offer a significant benefit, as local ordnances only have jurisdiction over State law, not Federal Civil Law.  A CASp individual in the local building department is a resource to local businesses but as a state employee such an individual is limited to advising about the State regulations.  If you want the benefits of CASp, you’d still have to hire them outside of their normal building department job and pay them the required amount.


Advantages of CASp

The California Chamber of Commerce has listed 10 benefits of SB 1608 for businesses.  We have divided these benefits into two groups, for those who get CASp and everyone else.  This is the first section.

1.  Part of the fear of ADA compliance is the cost.  CASp helps a business focus on what they can pay for.  Remember, the timeline is there to help businesses comply within a reasonable time frame.  If a CASp inspector understands approximately how much a business can afford for ADA compliance per month, the cost of compliance can be spread out over time to achieve 100% ADA Compliance.

2.  CASp certification is offered for all sites, even if they are not yet compliant.  This certification can be posted on a store window to deter litigants looking for an easy target.

3. CASp tries to help businesses avoid expensive lawsuits.  To this end, CASp allows businesses to request a 90 day stay.  This means that opposing attorney can’t rack up expensive attorney fees during discovery, while you decide what to do (accept their settlement or not).


Benefits of SB 1608

The effects of SB 1608 offer several included benefits for business owners whether they get CASp inspected or not.

1. Litigating attorneys who demand money must also include a statement advising the business what their rights are.  So if you haven’t got CASp, you won’t be able to request the 90 day stay.

2.  SB 1608 limits the amount of the damages to $4,000 per visit.  Furthermore these damages must be related to the plaintiff and explained how they injure the plaintiff.  For example, having detectable warnings helps protect those who are legally blind.  Someone in a wheelchair probably won’t be able to sue for a lack of them.  Grab bars would effect such a plaintiff, however, so they will be able to make a complaint about that.

3. A clause is included in SB 1608 to help lessen the attorney’s fees in a settlement.

4. CASp individuals are going to be more common, at least loosely tied to local building deparments (see item #4 under liabilities of CASp).

5. Architects and contractors will be required to learn about the ADA as part of their continuing education so they can be at least aware of what they don’t know.

6. A State Commission is formed to help interface the Disabled Rights and interests of Building Departments.

7. Cal Chambers also lists “new deadlines” for State building code compliance with ADA requirements.  The Division State Architect was already doing this with the Department of Justice.  It’s important though, to have a codified process as the building code is updated every three years.  The ADA is also updated but less frequently.


Consequences of CASp and SB 1608

CalChambers does recognize the need for some coordination between advocacy groups and the interests of the status quo, but as a business organization, they tend to lean towards the interests of big business.  Much of what SB 1608 does is to help entities that have cash take advantage of SB 1608’s lowering of the cost of lawsuits.  Smaller businesses that do not have funds must rely on pressuring larger property management firms to help with the cost of ADA compliance.

It’s also important to note that CASp cannot stop lawsuits, they can only help make the process more difficult for litigants. One of the long term consequences of CASp is that as businesses get CASp certification, those who do not have it, or cannot afford it will face a steeper battle as they become easier targets for litigation.

Add onto this that the Unruh Civil Rights Act defines violations of the ADA as acts of discrimination — this verbage has not changed.  Intention is unimportant to this ruling, as proven in so many court cases.  Businesses that do not comply with the ADA regardless of getting CASp or not still carry the steep fines associated with acts of discrimination — $4,000.

This heavy responsibility is to be sure, mostly on businesses right now.  CalChambers and other business groups are bound to spread this liability to other responsible parties, such as architects, contractors and Real Estate Agents.  So it’s important that all responsible parties with an interest in a place of public accommodation help make their site ADA compliant,

ADA Reform however, is not finished.  Much of SB 1608 mentions benefits to business — offering little or no compensation for the rights of the disabled.  You can be sure there will be an increased effort of disabled advocates to have their say as well.


All this should be considered in getting an CASp inspection.  For a more of a fiscal view of how to balance these responsibilities with ADA compliance take a look here:

How to put a price tag on your liability.

If you’ve decided that getting an ADA compliance report is for you, congratulations.  Our ADA Consulting Services.

If you have questions or concerns call us at 866 982 3212 extension 1!  Or email us at  Our advice is always free.

ADA Regulations: Service Animals Part 2


So, to follow up on the complex ADA regulations and interpretations of service animals

The New York Post has posted this article going a little overboard on what is or is not a service animal.  Nonetheless, it does present an interesting point of view.  If business owners were to take this article literally it could get them in trouble with ADA requirements as the scoping is too broad.

For the service goat, assistance monkey and emotional-support iguana, it could be the end of an era. Under new federal rules taking effect Tuesday, the Americans with Disabilities Act will no longer compel shops, restaurants and other businesses to accommodate a menagerie of supposed service animals brought in by the public. Only dogs and some miniature horses will qualify. Moreover, dogs will qualify as service animals only if they’ve been individually trained to assist with a disabled human’s needs.

“The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this new definition.” And they’ll need to be on-leash unless their work requires otherwise.

Finally. You’d think the Obama administration had, in a fit of common sense, for once chosen to heed a public outcry about zany regulations-gone-mad.
But as usual, the politics are more complicated than that.


Understandably, this is a complex and not well understood area of law. But this, like issues in HR and employee procedures, is something all businesses and institutions should be aware of.

If you want further information on the topic, you can go to these official ADA sites. Or you can look directly at what our services cost.

Have any questions? Call us at 866 982 3212 x2 or email us at