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Facility Access Requirements

What are the requirements for facility access?

The District of Columbia must ensure that all of its programs, activities, and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. One key aspect of that is facilities access.

New Construction: Any facility or part of a facility that is constructed by a state or local government entity after January 26, 1992 must be built in strict compliance with accessibility codes and regulations, so that it is readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Alteration and Renovation of Existing Construction: When alterations made after January 26, 1992 affect the usability of a facility, the altered portion (as well as the path of travel, toilets, drinking fountains, and public phones) must be made accessible to people with disabilities. Alterations to primary function areas also trigger a requirement to make the path of travel, restrooms, fountains, and phones serving the area accessible.

Buildings Existing Before January 26, 1992: The District is not necessarily required to make every pre-ADA facility fully compliant with current accessibility codes. However, all District services, programs, or activities must be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities when viewed in their entirety. This is called “overall program access.” For example, not all pre-ADA swimming facilities must be accessible, but there must be an alternate and proximate swimming facility that is accessible.

Program accessibility can be achieved a number of ways. Structural options include altering existing facilities or constructing new ones. Nonstructural options include:

  • Acquisition or redesign of equipment

  • Assignment of aides to assist individuals with disabilities

  • Provision of services at alternate accessible sites

The District must give priority to the option that results in the most integrated setting appropriate to encourage interaction among all users, including those with disabilities.