Page N2.1 . 23 August 2000                     
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    The ADA at Ten: Is it Working?

    by Michael J. Crosbie

    Timidity and a lack of enforcement strategy are the reasons the Americans with Disabilities Act is not being enforced, according to a new study. Released by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that makes policy recommendations to the White House and Congress, the study notes that government agencies charged with enforcing the ADA have been "overly cautious, reactive, and lacking any coherent and unifying national strategy."

    The study comes on the heels of the tenth anniversary of the ADA, which was signed into law by President George Bush. The deficient enforcement efforts have been exacerbated by "underfunding, understaffing, and the bureaucracy culture," according to the report, allowing "the destructive effects of discrimination to continue without sufficient challenge in some quarters."

    The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines articulate how buildings and public spaces must be made accessible. Four federal agencies—the Department of Justice, Transportation Department, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission—are the primary enforcers of the ADA.

    In light of these findings, the council recommends that the Justice Department take a lead role in ADA implementation across the federal government, and the other federal agencies should be more aggressive in enforcing ADA, as well as take part in community outreach and education.

    Michael J. Crosbie is an architect, author, professor, associate with Steven Winter Associates, Inc., and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.



    ArchWeek Photo

    Minimum clear width for single wheelchair.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines

    ArchWeek Photo

    Maximum forward reach over an obstruction.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines

    ArchWeek Photo

    Protruding objects walking perpendicular to a wall.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines

    ArchWeek Photo

    Dimensions of parking spaces.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines

    ArchWeek Photo

    Curb ramp at marked crossings.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines

    ArchWeek Photo

    Drinking fountains and water coolers—spout height and knee clearance.
    Image: ADA Accessibility Guidelines


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