No matter what industry you work in, there are always certain requirements and mandated regulations that need to be met. The building industry is no different, with many regulations for safety and zoning to make sure that the buildings we spend our lives in, from offices to restaurants to homes, are up to code.
Another set of regulations that builders and architects need to be aware of is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among other things, this important piece of legislation helps to ensure that people who may have been excluded from public facilities due to a disability have their interests protected. While most residential structures are not directly regulated in the act, it can still be a consideration that you apply to your work in residential building.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, abbreviated as the ADA, is an act that was signed into law in 1990. It is the most important law in America regarding the civil and accessibility rights of disabled Americans. The purpose of the law is to ensure that Americans with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as the rest of the population. It prevents discrimination based on disability and helps those who have disabilities make their way through society more easily.
The act is broken down into five different sections that relate to the different areas of public life that protect the interests of Americans with disabilities.
- Title I- Employment: Helps those with disabilities get the same types of employment opportunities and benefits that those without disabilities have.
- Title II- Public Services: State and Local Government: Prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities by both state and local government public entities.
- Title III- Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities: Ensure that public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices, schools, clubs, stadiums, theaters, etc.) are accessible to those with disabilities.
- Title IV- Telecommunications: Requires interstate and intrastate telecommunication relay services and closed captioning for federally funded public service announcements.
- Title V- Miscellaneous Provisions: Relates to the ADA as a whole, including its relation to other laws and impacts.
Why Is the ADA Important?
The ADA is the basis for all laws regarding the treatment of people with disabilities. It ensures that their rights and interests are protected and prevents discrimination based on disability. It is the result of years of campaigning and advocating by marginalized groups who came together to help protect Americans with disabilities and ensure that they have the same access rights as other Americans.
Previous legislation was very limited, and didn’t protect the broad interests of Americans with disabilities. By getting the ADA approved and signed into law with bipartisan support, disability activists were able to help expand the rights of Americans with disabilities and ensure that going forward, people with disabilities would have access to the same facilities as everyone else.
Builders, contractors, and architects who create public facilities need to be in compliance with Title III of the ADA. There are complications that can arise like lawsuits, reputational damages, and a loss of business.
Why Residential Builders Should Care About ADA
Title III of the ADA only addresses public facilities, but builders who create single and multi-family homes should still care about the regulations stated in the act. The ADA was created by people with disabilities who stated what was necessary in order to make them feel welcome in a building and what needed to be in place in order to make a place accessible to them. Builders who create private facilities can still take this set of adjustments into consideration when building homes so that Americans with disabilities can enjoy them as well.
In truth, there is no downside to building homes that are disability-accessible. When you meet the regulations of the ADA, both disabled and non-disabled Americans can enjoy the property to the fullest. It means that you’ve built a home that can be accessed by everyone and that appeals to a wider audience.
Making sure that people with disabilities can still access the benefits of your buildings and are able to enjoy living, visiting, or working in public and private facilities is an important part of being a builder and working towards a more inclusive community.
At ODL, we are committed to helping Americans with disabilities get the most out of buildings and facilities by making it easier for our customers to comply with ADA requirements. That’s why we are making ADA compliant doors standard across the board, so that no matter what products you order from us you can meet the standards set by the ADA.