Myth: Because my place of business is old, it is "grandfathered" and exempt from the ADA Title III requirements.
Fact: The largest misconception by business owners under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the standard for existing facilities. There is no "grandfather clause" exempting older facilities.
Instead, older facilities are obligated to make changes that are "readily achievable" - or which can be made without great expense or effort.
Readily achievable barrier removal may include providing an accessible route from a parking lot to the business's entrance, installing an entrance ramp, widening a doorway, installing accessible door hardware, repositioning shelves, or moving tables, chairs, display racks, vending machines, or other furniture.
When removing barriers, businesses are required to comply with the Standards to the extent possible.
For example, where there is not enough space to install a ramp with a slope that complies with the Standards, a business may install a ramp with a slightly steeper slope. However, any deviation from the Standards must not pose a significant safety risk.
For more information, visit http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.pdf
*It should be noted that under Michigan Barrier Free Code, there may be 'grandfather' exceptions. HOWEVER, the ADA does not recognize these exemptions and businesses are still held to the ADA standards of readily achievable barrier removal. Unfortunately, local building inspectors do not always inform business owners that even if they comply with State and local codes, they are still responsible for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities under the ADA, please call our ADA specialist Paul Ecklund at (269) 345-1516 x117.