Reaching Out to Customers With Disabilities: Lesson 4 Removing Barriers in Buildings that Are Not Being Remodeled, Renovated, or AlteredA workman is installing a grab bar beside a toilet. 
Lesson 10: Information SourcesLesson 9: ADA EnforcementLesson 8: Cost IssuesLesson 7: Transporting CustomersLesson 6: Maintaining AccessibilityLesson 5: Alternate AccessLesson 1: Policies & ProceduresLesson 3: Accessible Design Lesson 2: Customer CommunicationsIntroduction: Welcome to the CourseLesson 4: Removing Barriers

Architectural standards for removing barriers

In identifying and removing barriers, you should use the ADA Standards for Accessible Design as a guide.  If compliance with these standards is not readily achievable, you should take other readily achievable measures, as long as they are safe.  Businesses are not expected to compromise legitimate safety requirements when determining how to remove or correct a particular barrier. 


The owner of a small shop decides to widen the shop's front door.  Because of space and cost constraints, she is unable to install a wider frame and door to achieve the full 32-inch clearance required under the ADA Standards.  However, by switching to offset hinges with the existing frame and door, she can widen the clearance from 28 inches to 30 inches.  The 30 inch door clearance does not pose a significant risk to the health or safety of individuals with disabilities or others and is permitted when the normal 32-inch clearance is not readily achievable.

The owner of another small shop decides to use a portable ramp when people with disabilities want to enter or exit the shop.  In order to be safe, the ramp will have railings, edge protection, and a firm, stable, nonslip surface, and it will be properly secured.  The owner also decides to install a bell so a customer can call for assistance when needed.  This kind of arrangement is permitted when the installation of a permanent ramp is not readily achievable, as long as the portable ramp is safe. 

Difference between "barrier removal" and "alterations"

Removing barriers is an ongoing obligation that is not tied to renovations, capital improvements, or alterations.   From the ADA's perspective, if a business has physical barriers that can easily be removed or corrected, the business should go ahead and remove them.

The rules for alterations (discussed in lesson 3) apply when a business is making physical changes or improvements to its place of business.  From the ADA's perspective, when a business decides to modify, alter, or change an element or space that affects the accessibility or usability of a facility, that activity creates an opportunity - and an obligation - to comply fully with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

A workman is installing a grab bar beside a toilet.

A workman is installing a grab bar beside a toilet.

Lesson 8 discusses tax incentives for businesses that improve the accessibility of their facilities.


< Previous 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next >

horizontal divider
corner graphic
Lessons: Introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10