Welcome to ADA Corner!
Since I am starting this new section, I decided to first talk about
transition plans. If you don't have one in place, then my suggestion to you is:
Get started ASAP!
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is unique. With most civil rights
laws, public and private entities are merely required to establish policies that
eliminate discrimination against a certain group of people. The ADA, however,
mandates that applicable entities provide physical changes in facilities and
public rights of way to eliminate discrimination for people with disabilities.
The ADA addresses this need by requiring a self-evaluation of
physical assets followed by a transition plan explaining how
and when improvements and corrections will be addressed.
Under ADA Title II
35.105 Self Evaluation, state and local agencies are required to have a
transition plan in place for public facilities as well as streets and sidewalks,
making public services, activities, and programs accessible for people with
disabilities. The following quote is from the U.S.
Access Board's "Accessible Rights-of-Way," published in November 1999 to
establish standards for accessible features such as curb cuts, ramps, continuous
sidewalks, and detectable warnings:
"Where structural modifications are necessary to achieve program
accessibility - as in the addition of curb ramps - the DOJ [Department of
Justice] regulation requires state and local governments that employ 50 or more
staff members throughout the agency to develop a transition plan that provides
for the removal of the barriers at issue. With respect to pedestrian facilities,
the DOJ regulation imposes a specific construction requirement. This requirement
directs each jurisdiction to include in its transition plan a schedule for
providing curb ramps where pedestrian walkways cross curbs and specifies a
priority for locating them at:
State and local government offices and facilities;
Places of public accommodation (private sector facilities covered by
Places of employment; and
Other locations (for instance, along routes used by residents with
DOJ's Title II Technical
Assistance Manual notes that curb ramps may not be required at every
existing walkway if a basic level of access to the pedestrian network can be
achieved by other means, e.g., the use of a slightly longer route.
items listed in a community's transition plan, including the installation of
curb ramps at specified existing pedestrian walkways, were to have been
completed by Jan. 26, 1995. Entities that have not finished this work should
review and update their schedules and place a high priority on accomplishing the
work necessary to complete plan items and elements."
Sadly, the above timelines have been largely ignored. Plus, in many instances
transition plans were made without a detailed self-evaluation, weren't followed
through, and were even lost. As administrations and personnel change and records
are lost, agencies find that they cannot defend themselves when a complaint is
brought forth claiming they did not take the necessary steps to provide physical
access to their programs, facilities, etc.
Maintaining your transition plan
Your transition plan should be continually updated. As improvements are
added, provide documentation showing when and how they are made. It's also
important to involve an ADA coordinator and citizens with disabilities in your
decisions; they can provide guidance for what works best regarding different
As a personal note, performing onsite surveys and creating charts and
tables related to individual buildings, parks, or streets and sidewalks can
make it much easier to track and follow through for planners, construction
contractors, and ADA coordinators. For public sidewalks and streets, the charts
and tables should be divided into sections of a city or county and incorporated
with GIS satellite overviews (Graphic 1
2). Engineering firms often have in-house tools to do this; otherwise I use
the Bing map system for the
overhead map and satellite views.
The charts and tables should also include a comment section that allows users
to log corrections or improvements made and the cost of the actions taken. This
helps keep information together and assists those overseeing the transition plan
keep an accurate, traceable list for future requests. A word of caution: long
pages of narrative are hard to follow and wade through.
Good luck and feel free to contact me for questions or ideas.