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What Does "Readily Achievable" Mean?

Ed Zwilling Aug. 11, 2012

A public accommodation in an existing facility (that is, a facility constructed prior to the effective date of the ADA and/or the current ADA Standards) is required to comply with those ADA Standards to the extent it is readily achievable to do so. The regulations list many modifications that are typically readily achievable:

1) Installing ramps;

2) Making curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances;

3) Repositioning shelves;

4) Rearranging tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks, and other furniture;

5) Repositioning telephones;

6) Adding raised markings on elevator control buttons;

7) Installing flashing alarm lights;

8) Widening doors;

9) Installing offset hinges to widen doorways;

10) Eliminating a turnstile or providing an alternative accessible path;

11) Installing accessible door hardware;

12) Installing grab bars in toilet stalls;

13) Rearranging toilet partitions to increase maneuvering space;

14) Insulating lavatory pipes under sinks to prevent burns;

15) Installing a raised toilet seat;

16) Installing a full-length bathroom mirror;

17) Repositioning the paper towel dispenser in a bathroom;

18) Creating designated accessible parking spaces;

19) Installing an accessible paper cup dispenser at an existing inaccessible water fountain;

20) Removing high pile, low density carpeting; or

21) Installing vehicle hand controls.

"Readily achievable" means easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. It is a less stringent standard than that which applies to new construction (when access can be provided in the design for no greater expense). According to the Technical Assistance manual promulgated by the Department of Justice (at III-4.4200):

Determining if barrier removal is readily achievable is necessarily a case-by-case judgment. Factors to consider include:

1) The nature and cost of the action;

2) The overall financial resources of the site or sites involved; the number of persons employed at the site; the effect on expenses and resources; legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation, including crime prevention measures; or any other impact of the action on the operation of the site;

3) The geographic separateness, and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the site or sites in question to any parent corporation or entity;

4) If applicable, the overall financial resources of any parent corporation or entity; the overall size of the parent corporation or entity with respect to the number of its employees; the number, type, and location of its facilities; and

5) If applicable, the type of operation or operations of any parent corporation or entity, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the parent corporation or entity.

If the public accommodation is a facility that is owned or operated by a parent entity that conducts operations at many different sites, the public accommodation must consider the resources of both the local facility and the parent entity to determine if removal of a particular barrier is "readily achievable. " The administrative and fiscal relationship between the local facility and the parent entity must also be considered in evaluating what resources are available for any particular act of barrier removal.