More than 50 million Americans -18% of our population--have disabilities. California's building codes and the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide a comprehensive set of standards covering almost all important areas of accessibility for persons with physical and sensory disabilities. It is important to remember that accessible environments benefit everyone. Curb ramps serve parents pushing baby strollers, elderly persons with carts, bicyclists and other people. Making a business more accessible by removing barriers can attract more customers and employees.
California's accessibility regulations are found in Title 24 of the California Building Standards Code and are designed to comply with the requirements of the ADA and State statutes. The California Building Code is the minimum standard by which to define accessibility. In some cases, Title 24 is less restrictive than ADA; hence, the ADA standard must be used. A copy of the regulations is located in the Division of the State Architects Access Compliance Reference Manual.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that was adopted in 1990. Similar to California accessibility law, ADA provides civil rights protections for persons with disabilities and requires accessibility to buildings and facilities and the "goods, services and programs" within. ADA does not supersede California's accessibility laws: the most restrictive requirement of either code applies.
What does this mean for my business? The California Building Code requires that when you do tenant improvements, you must spend at least 20% of the value on accessibility upgrades to remove access barriers. When applying Title 24 and ADA statutes, it is important to develop an environment which is accessible to and usable by disabled persons. Nearly all types of businesses that serve the public are regulated by ADA, regardless of size or age of their building, and are required to modify their business policies and procedures when necessary to serve customers with disabilities and take steps to remove architectural barriers in existing buildings. Businesses can take advantage of two Federal tax incentives available to help cover costs of making access improvements to your business.
The Building Superintendent of the City of San Dimas is our Certified Accessibility Specialist and can help you understand and implement accessibility requirements. Call (909) 394-6260.