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  Program 2

ADA1HRB - Understanding ADA: Compliance as it Pertains to Architectural Hardware

DHI CEP Program #10-1108



Part 1 - General ADA Information

Part 2 - ADA Compliance

Part 3 - Preferred Practice


<< Glossary of Terms >>


Part 1 - General ADA Information

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is important to specifiers for three reasons:

  1. It requires you to meet the needs of all those who enter or occupy the building.
  2. It enables you to keep the building's owner compliant with current accessibility standards.
  3. It helps reduce the possibility of lawsuits, even after the building's owner takes occupancy.

It is considered discrimination any time a disabled person is unable to take part in typical activities associated with a building. This includes eating at restaurants, using restrooms and shopping at stores, among many others.

Question: Why is ADA Important to you?
Answer: It is a Federal Civil Rights Law!

  • Signed into law July 26, 1990
  • Enforced by the Dept. of Justice

The ADA is a federal civil rights law that was established more than 19 years ago. Today, approximately 20% of Americans (or 54 million) are disabled. Within the next 27 years, one in five people will be 65 or older. The risk for ADA complaints increases as the population ages.

Individuals can sue in two ways. First, they may bring a private suit to court and obtain an order to stop the discrimination. Or, they may file suit with the Attorney General. In these cases, the Attorney General may seek monetary damages and civil penalties.

It is a myth that violators are granted a grace period to get up to code, and therefore circumvent litigation. The truth is that you can be sued for your first violation the same as your 20th. With lawsuits averaging $10,000 - $100,000, what you don't know WILL hurt you.


The ADA is comprised of five titles, including Employment, Public Service, Public Accommodations, Telecommunications and Miscellaneous. The entire ADA law can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (ADA Standards for Accessible Design). It recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities. A117.1 is a standard that is referenced by many building codes. This code, derived from the Public Accommodations title, requires business owners to make reasonable attempts to remove barriers and provide disabled people with access equal, or similar, to that of the general population.

The cost of incorporating these features totals less than 1% of new construction costs. However, when dealing with hardware, openings can account for a large percentage of the owner's headaches and this small percentage of cost can cause an entire build not to receive a "certificate of occupancy".

There are four main accessible elements and spaces to consider:

  1. "Getting to the building" starts at the parking lot and ends at the entrance.
  2. "Getting into the building" covers all obstacles at the building's entrance, including doors, hardware, thresholds and necessary force.
  3. "Moving around the building" calls for ease of movement around the space and into restrooms.
  4. "Using the building elements" refers to telephones, seating, water fountains, mirrors, toilets and sinks, among others.


Upon submission, results of your evaluation will be displayed with the correct answers shown in red.

  1. The ADA is important to specifiers for three reasons. Which one of these is incorrect?
    It requires you to meet the needs of all those who enter the building.
    It guarantees protection from lawsuits.
    It enables you to keep the building's owner compliant.

  2. The ADA Law protects?
    Building owners from unnecessary building codes.
    The civil rights of people with disabilities.
    The general population.

  3. "Getting in the building" covers all obstacles of the building's entrance, including?
    Parking lots.
    Court yards.