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Buildings & Facilities Overview

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a lot to say about the physical objects that make up our built environment. Built environment refers to the things around us that are made by people and that are where we work, live, and play. Examples may include office buildings, outdoor plazas, dog parks, motels, malls, schools, sidewalks, playgrounds, airports, and bus stops.

Title II of the ADA tells us that buildings, parks, and other facilities run by state and local governments (public entities) must meet accessibility standards. Title III says that many privately run places where products and services are sold (Title III calls them places of public accommodation) must also meet accessibility standards. In addition, the ADA applies to public and private transportation.

In many cases, when you’re designing, building, or altering the built environment, you need to follow rules based on the ADA. You may also need to follow state or local rules regarding accessibility. (Federal buildings and facilities have similar requirements that are legislated by the ABA, or Architectural Barriers Act.)

[ Read: State- and Territory-Based Accessibility Requirements ]

The US Department of Justice adopts and enforces rules for the built environment. The current rules are called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design has 10 chapters and many specific requirements.

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