Archive for the ‘Accessibility Tips’ Category




ADA Lawsuit Links

| Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 | Comments Off on ADA Lawsuit Links

I haven’t been keeping up with the online news, so this blog has been falling behind.

Things have been really busy.

Anyhow, here’s a list of some ADA compliance/lawsuit articles within the last 6 months.

That’s it for now. Toodles.

Top 10 Compliants noted by the California Commission on Disability Access

| Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 | Comments Off on Top 10 Compliants noted by the California Commission on Disability Access

The following list was compiled by the California Commission on Disability Access.  No surprise that top few most common out of compliant items that people complained about were all related to parking.

Parking is the easiest to spot item — so it’s often the area most lawsuits revolve around.

1 Parking Spaces. Existing parking space(s) are not compliant.
2 Passenger Loading Zones. Passenger loading zones/van access aisles are not compliant.
3 Number of Spaces. Parking lot does not contain minimum number of accessible parking spaces.
4 Ground Surfaces. Routes to and from parking lot are not accessible.
5 Signage. Signage in parking lot is not compliant. E.g., parking spaces need to be designated as reserved by a sign showing the symbol of accessibility.
6 Access Aisles. Access aisles within building are not accessible. E.g., dining or work surfaces are not on an accessible route.
7 Access Height. Heights of surfaces such as counters or bars are not compliant.
8 Grab Bars. Grab bars in bathroom are non-existent, or existing grab bars are not compliant.
9 General Door. Entdy doors are not accessible.
10 Lavatories and Mirrors. Lavatories and mirrors in bathroom are not accessible.

 

See the full page here: http://www.ccda.ca.gov/Reports.htm

For tips about parking look under our accessibility tips under “parking space”:

http://www.accesssolutionllc/tag/parking-space/

July 1st, 2013 the day to watch out for

| Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

SB 1186, which has far reaching changes for the ADA is an attempt to help businesses be more compliant with the ADA without hurting them.

One of the requirements of SB 1186 is that as of July 1st, 2013, leases on commercial property will need to state whether or not a CASp inspection was performed on the site.

Here are some articles on the subject:

Additionally, cities are now facing pressure to get their own CASp licensed personnel to help them curb their own liability.

Here are articles on this subject:

While local ordinances are only required to enforce state law (ADA is Federal law and out of their jurisdiction), a CASp educated official should at least let the city be more aware of when they are putting their businesses in jeopardy when they enforce local ordinances which may violate the ADA.  Often, government buildings also have plenty of ADA violations (http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/03/madison_county_courthouse_sett.html) At most though, your local ordinance will only urge you to get a CASp inspection.

CASp inspections will not only help you become compliant, they will also offer legal benefits to your site as protection in the case of future lawsuits.  We posted an article on this subject last year, nearly a year ago: CASp and SB 1186.

So what does this all mean?  The process for occupancy is slowly including CASp inspections as part of the normal routine.  If you are a property manager or a commercial real estate agent, you will be urged to get a CASp inspection to protect your site.  If you have or have not, you need to alert your prospective and renewing tenants!  Those businesses need to be aware of what they are getting into.  If you haven’t gotten a CASp inspection, this will reflect on your how you conduct your business — if you are concerned about compliancy and the well being of your tenants or not.

If you are a prospective tenant or a renewing tenant you should urge your landlord to get this protection for you and for him.  It’s a one time charge.  You both can enjoy its legal benefits indefinitely.

Any questions or comments?  Contact us at help@accesssolutionllc.com or call us at 866 982 3212.

Colorado Starts seeing more Driveby Litigation

| Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 | Comments Off on Colorado Starts seeing more Driveby Litigation

The basic understanding for how to avoid lawsuits remains the same no matter what state you are in or what the laws are for ADA compliance.

Figure out where you are out of compliance and make a plan to fix it immediately. There are no short cuts, or any other sure ways to avoiding ADA lawsuits.

Colorado has recently joined larger states like New York, Florida and California in suffering a wave of “Drive-by Litigation.” Recently a single disabled plaintiff and Florida attorneys have filed many nearly identical lawsuits designed to extort settlements from Denver Metro Area businesses for failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Channel 7 News reports that these same two attorneys have filed hundreds of similar lawsuits in other states.

How can you avoid your business becoming the target of a drive-by ADA lawsuit? You can start by auditing your business for ADA compliance.

Original article here: Original Article

Department of Justice is starting to enforce ADA codes… again

| Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 | Comments Off on Department of Justice is starting to enforce ADA codes… again

The Department of Justice after a long haitus has begun to inspect for ADA code violations again.

Federal prosecutors are reviewing about a dozen downtown Minneapolis restaurants for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones’ office said Wednesday.

Department of Justice attorneys may review other Minnesota restaurants as part of the review, which is starting with high-traffic, downtown restaurants on or adjacent to Nicollet Mall.

You can see the rest of the article here.

During the last Bush administration, much of the enforcement activity from the DOJ was halted. With the change in administration under Obama, the DOJ begun to purse offenders of the ADA, although they seemed to limit their activity to larger companies. Apparently they have begun to do spot checks of high traffic areas again.

Curious to see what they might find at your site? Call us and have us take a look. 866 982 3212.

How effective is ADA Lawsuit Insurance

| Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | Comments Off on How effective is ADA Lawsuit Insurance

Interesting article quoted below.

By employing simple risk management techniques you can protect yourself on many levels. First and foremost, be sure you know the law and work within the law to be in compliance. The pieces that you cannot control, you should transfer to others when available. One such risk transfer technique is purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance, or EPL for short. This is an insurance policy that protects employers from lawsuits that they may receive from employees. Everything from unlawful termination, discrimination, harassment, and wage & hour disputes are covered under this type of policy. However, this insurance is not included in your standard General Liability protection.

You can read the rest of the article here.

What this article focuses on, is insurance. Insurance is important but that isn’t protection against lawsuits, just against you paying for them. Of course, you still have to pay for the insurance. Either way, the best way to avoid lawsuits is to be compliant in the first place. Being compliant ensures you have a defensible situation. After all, who has money to throw away on a fixed cost such as paying for insurance?

Often property stakeholders will hire us only after the second lawsuit, because they dismiss the first like being hit by lightning (it won’t happen again). This dismissal ignores the fact that most property stakeholders who have been sued believe that they would never have been sued in the first place.

But ADA compliance is something visible to the naked eye. If you know a few things, you can spot them everywhere. And even if you only know a few things, you can bet that there will be many many MANY more things in violation with your site. The best solution to stopping lawsuits is to become compliant in the first place.

You know what to do. help@accesssolutionllc.com or 866 982 3212. Contact us. We are your best solution to finding out what is wrong with your site.

SB 1186 Part 1: Not the magic bullet businesses were hoping for

| Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 | Comments Off on SB 1186 Part 1: Not the magic bullet businesses were hoping for

Senate Bill 1186 couldn’t pass through California’s governmental processes fast enough for businesses. It was heralded as the end of “drive by lawsuits”, but the final bill may have fallen far short of that lofty goal.

Unfortunately for business owners, none of those parts does anything to curb the tide of accessibility lawsuits. In fact, predatory lawyers seeking to bolster their income may start filing even more lawsuits.

SB 1186 has nine important parts. This article focuses on the first three sections.

Part One of the law tries to stop “frivolous” lawsuits by requiring attorneys to send a copies of their demand letters to  the California Commission on Disability Access and, until January 1, 2016, to the State Bar. It also puts some limits on what can be in a demand letter. For example, what has been called “perfectly legal extortion” can no longer happen. In the past these serial litigants would demand a few thousand dollars, or they would file suit seeking tens of thousands of dollars from the target business.

However, because of the rise of CASp, very few letters use this tactic anymore anyway. And nearly all recent lawsuits are based on just a few actually legitimate complaints rather than the laundry list lawsuits of the last decade. This part of the new law is largely behind the times and outdated.

Part Two attempts to protect businesses which are already in the process of becoming compliant. Until now, even if you are in the middle of construction to fix an accessibility problem, a drive-by litigator could send you a lawsuit alleging that it wasn’t correct at the exact moment they visited — and legally they’d be right. In this case, 1186 does give a great benefit. It grants even greater protection for anyone who has hired a CASp. You don’t have to be fully compliant; you don’t even have to have started construction. So long as you’ve hired a CASp before you get sued, you are now protected.

Part Three is what everyone thought would be the magic bullet. It lowers the amount you can be fined from a mandatory minimum of $4000 to a minimum of $1000. However, that only applies if you are able to fix the problem within 60 days of being notified. This type of rush construction is great for contractors because they know you are under the gun so they charge whatever they like. Your total out-of-pocket expenses could even be higher than just ponying up the $4000. It’s also very important to understand that even the $1000 fine is “per offence”, which means the same litigant can say they visited your store or restaurant 10 times and multiply all of the fines by 10. Or 20. Or 50.

So, there are some benefits granted by SB 1186, but getting a CASp survey is still the only true legal protection against accessibility lawsuits.

You can read the law for yourself by clicking here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1151-1200/sb_1186_bill_20120430_amended_sen_v98.html

Stay tuned for the second part soon.  Any questions about how SB 1186 applies to your site or looking to schedule an inspection?  Call us at 866 982 3212 or email us at help@accesssolutionllc.com.

Free Accessibility

| Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 | Comments Off on Free Accessibility

With the available tax breaks accessibility upgrades can be very nearly free.

Almost all small businesses qualify for tax credits and tax refunds for any ADA work you do.  But amid the constant stories of lawsuit abuse, unpremeditated barriers, predatory lawyers, and nefarious corporations, the really valuable information tends to get lost. One of the most important pieces of information is the available tax benefits for businesses that choose compliance instead of doing nothing and living in fear of a lawsuit. That’s one of the things the government is woefully bad at. They say “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” then craft ridiculously complicated laws, like the ADA, and make almost no effort to educate the public.

Still, inroads have been made. President Bush sent a “Tax Incentives Packet” which details some of the available benefits. Since then there has been less educational efforts, but the benefits are still available — if you know exactly what to ask for.

The first part is the Tax Credit. If you spend between $250 and $10500 on accessibility improvements, Uncle Sam will pick up roughly half of the tab. That’s up to $5000 of free money! The tax credit is really amazing. If you’re a small business earning less than seven figures, having $5000 in government money make the different in finally being able to fix up your restroom. To get the tax credit you’ll need IRS form 8826, which you can download from here: http://www.ada.gov/f8826.pdf

But you’re probably thinking “What about the other half?” That’s where the Tax Refund portion kicks in. Section 190 of the Internal Revenue Code says that anything you spend on accessibility which doesn’t get covered by the tax credit is tax deductible, up to $15,000. Is your tax bill looming this year? Do some accessibility work and deduct it!

When adding together the tax credit and tax deduction, you get a total of $20,000 in benefit from the government for doing the ADA work that you’ll have to do anyway. Remember, although you can get all of this money back for doing the work, NOBODY will help you pay off a lawsuit. It’s much cheaper to get accessible in the first place than to wait for a lawsuit then get court ordered to make the fixes.

If you’re in California, consider protecting yourself with CASp. CASp grants you legal breathing room so you can fix problems at your own pace. Without CASp, you really need to fix everything as quickly as possible before the dreaded lawsuit hits. Keep in mind that both the tax credit and tax deduction can be used each and every year. If you’ve got a CASp Certificate, you can do a little work each year — gaining the maximum possible tax benefit – and minimize the constant threat of a lawsuit.  Utilizing these tax credits can pay for construction and the cost of our inspection.  That’s money you would have had to pay in taxes anyway, so it’s really at no cost to you.

Call us at 866 982 3212 or email us at help@accesssolutionllc.com today to get your free inspection.

Choosing an ADA Consultant

| Thursday, August 9th, 2012 | Comments Off on Choosing an ADA Consultant

Even though there aren’t many ADA consultants around (there is a void in the marketplace) many individuals have realized the significant amount of money in this area.

ADA consulting isn’t all that easy — there’s a great deal of information to consider — but nonetheless, many are attracted to this area in order to make a quick dollar.

 

Here’s an interesting article posted by one of our competitors on choosing an ADA consultant.  [Their website mainpage is ADA Consultant… I couldn’t find the name of their company at all, I guess their website is still in development.]

The basic idea is that one ought to get a consultant who is experienced, who can provide references and isn’t a fly-by-night individual who just wants to make a quick buck.

I quoted their conclusion below:

The moral to this story is that it takes a little work to find the right Consultant for you and your business.

Ask questions, check references, call the Better Business Bureau and look for actual training and experience.

Expect to pay a reasonable price for services, like to old saying goes; you get what you pay for. If you get services for nothing, then that is probably what they are worth.

The cost of an audit, training or other ADA Consulting Service is FAR LESS than the legal fees, fines and bad press of failing to comply and receiving an ADA Violation.

Make sure your consultant can fully meet your needs. Don’t pay for services that you don’t need or for several subcontractors to cover all of your compliance needs.

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t need to be painful, frightening, overly stressful, or be so expensive that it puts you out of business.

But ADA Compliance does need to be done and a Qualified ADA Compliance Consultant can help!

Overall, their conclusion is apt, chosing the WRONG consultant is much like doing work incorrectly, you pay for something that can get you further in violation.

Any questions or concerns? help@accesssolutionllc.com or 866 982 3212.

Do it Yourself Guide

| Thursday, August 9th, 2012 | Comments Off on Do it Yourself Guide

**This article is taken from a previous version of our pricing guide and saved here for Reference.

We often get questions from business owners who are adamant that they know enough to assure that their sites are in fact ADA compliant.  Rather than try and convince you that you need us, let us show you where we get our information so if you like, YOU CAN  DO IT YOURSELF.

Free Accessibility Information

Yours Truly Accessibility is a California Corporation that provides industry leading accessibility service at extremely competitive prices. We are able to provide this level of value because YTA has developed cutting-edge survey software called Précis. Précis significantly decreases our processing time for each survey while ensuring perfect accuracy and completeness. Beware “casual” access inspectors that charge similar to us but only point out a thing or two from memory, potentially leaving you liable for thousands of dollars in exposures that they missed.

For example, so far as we know, YTA is the only firm that uses the latest 2010 laws to give you the most complete, up-to-date information of over 3000 individual checks.  The laws aren’t straight forward though, here is a list of some federal and state ADA conflicts.

If you’re curious as to where we got our information, the following organizations can be of assistance.

These are the major official websites from which accessibility code originates.

Federal Accessibility Guidelines – Everything Federal is online And for FREE (look for ADA 2010)

http://www.ada.gov – This is the Department of Justice’s website on accessibility.  They have extensive materials on FEDERAL accessibility regarding cities, municipalities and small businesses.  You can find their fact sheet here.

http://www.access-board.gov – This is an independent Federal Agency devoted to exploring access issues.  They help determine and resolve access issues as they come up.  Any new Federal Legislation on accessibility will be influenced by the Access Board.  You can find their updated 2010 ADA standards here.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – When the updated 2008 ADA Amendment signed by Obama expand the definition of what a disability is, there were some questions as to how this applies specifically to individuals.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission addresses these questions here. ADA Q&A Final Ruling

These links above aren’t complete — California has a wide range of standards.  You’ll need the California Building Code as well.

California Code of Regulations – You can get the California Building Code Online. The relevant chapters can be found under here. For Chapter 11B and Chapter 10. (Chapter 11A is for residential and Chapter 11C is for fueling stations)… or if you want a paper copy…

http://iccsafe.org – You can buy a copy here.

The International Code Council is an organization which oversights building code for the entire United States.  Every three years, through a series of hearings and discussions they issue a new model-code from which states will adopt in full or modify.  California modifies the ICC’s model code extensively to create the California Building Code.  This building code is adopted every three years.  You can buy a copy of the California Building Code (Title 24 Volume 2, Part 1) in which Chapters 10 and 11 are the relevant accessibility chapters.  You can find the relevant volume 2 here.

California Civil Code – This is the ‘engine’ that ties businesses, building code and Civil rights together.

We understand you are not attorneys.  We aren’t either, but we do have extensive experience dealing with attorneys, as we have worked in an Expert Witness capacity.  If you ask an attorney for free advice, you’d probably get 30 minutes, which isn’t enough to get a full answer.  Part of the problem is that you probably have no idea what questions to ask.  So we have provide some links below with the full text that attorneys would look at.   As the law is changing always, you should do your own legal research as well.  A good starting place for some ground breaking ADA lawsuits can be found here. This article was written by Frank Chen, an attorney we have worked closely with one some ADA lawsuits.

The text of the California Unruh Act and Disabled Persons Act can be found below.

http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/51.html

http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/52.html

http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/54.html

Other websites

There are many more sites online devoted to this ADA accessibility topic, which also explore access issues. We recommend that you review some of these sites.  They will all contain various differing information. The majority of such sites are done by lawyers who explain what various court cases and legislative bills mean for us common folk.  Architects and contractors tend not to explain very much about the meaning of what they do.

Some informative websites would include:

  • California Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Reform Efforts for ADA The California Chamber of Commerce has done extensive lobbying for ADA and Unruh Reform.  while modifying civil rights is a nightmare for any political figure, CalChambers, along with other business organizations, has been successful at getting SB 1608 passed.  SB1608 is one of the most wide-reaching legislation California has seen recently.  CalChambers, of course, lists and brags about all their changes.  It’s an interesting read, but the lesson here is that SB 1608 and CASp really only protect businesses that have a few thousand dollars to spend on CASp.  If you are worried about lawsuits you should, by all means learn about the issues at stake and your options.
  • Law Blog that chronicles ADA legal cases We’ve gotten some of our news from this site.  They have a definite slant in their view of ADA cases, but this particular tag will list the many cases that they feel are more on the vexatious ligitation side.  This blog is more of a news feed, so they are a little short on the ‘main lesson’, merely serving to inform you of what happens.
  • Buildings Operator Blog on ADA Lawsuits This is a relatively recent article written by a facilities management group on how to avoid ADA lawsuits.  They suggest the same thing we would, but they are based in the east coast so they don’t have the familiarity with California.  Nonetheless, it’s a good read with some solid general information about what an ADA expert should do for you.
  • Self help service for ADA liability This is a new website we are proud to be a part of.  When released this site can guide business owners, facility managers and contractors to finding out the extent of your ADA liability.  Much less expensive than hiring someone else to come out to your site, you can now do it yourself!
  • An attorney’s analysis of one ADA compliance lawsuit I would really recommend that you read this article.  I won’t summarize this lengthy analysis but the last points at the end are worth repeating:

While in some circumstances the cost of making business premises fully accessible to persons with disabilities can be substantial, many changes can be made with minimal expense. In the Cable’s Restaurant trial, Molski’s contractor testified that while both bathrooms could be remodeled and comply with the law for a total of $8,600, there were incremental steps that could also be taken for much less money. For example, Molski’s contractor testified that lowering the toilet seat cover dispenser would cost approximately $20 and take about 15 minutes to do. Insulating the pipes underneath the sink would cost around $20. Other repairs were as inexpensive as $30. There are a great many inexpensive steps that businesses can take to comply with ADA regulations and help avoid costly lawsuits.

This last point is important to note.  It may not cost much to do the actual work that a small business may be legally required to do, but knowing what to do and doing it correctly is the difficult part.

The tone of these sites is that they all contain the “last word”.  If you look through our access tips, we explore these different opinions.  One of the reason why it’s so confusing and no one is willing to give you the last word is that on many of issues, the experts themselves are unsure of the last word.  The agencies and governing bodies that issue the standards are themselves often in disagreement or unclear about how their principles and standards should be implemented.  This is unfortunate as this is confusing to businesses who just want to get it right (so they can move on) but this does represent the current fluidic nature of accessibility standards.  More than a few experts will secure a job first and then look up what they need to know.  This is why you need an ADA expert like ourselves.

Our computer surveys are designed to take into account both the maximum and minimum interpretations of these different standards so we can offer the best fit for your site.  For this reason we don’t recommend you purchase an accessibility book as those discuss general standards, which may or may not be applicable to a specific site.  If you are thinking about purchasing a book on access, be aware that it must contain the latest code issues (post 2010) as that includes the most recent updates.

 


 

Service Definitions and Pricing Guide

YTA provides a variety of valuable services that cover a wide array of needs and situations. These are very brief descriptions of those services, please don’t hesitate to call 866 982 3212 or email to help@accesssolutionllc.com if you have questions.

In order to customize our services to exactly serve your unique needs, our pricing is split into three parts. The Survey Fee is the basic cost to travel to your facility and perform the actual inspection. Then you add on the products you need. Finally you choose any optional extras like rush processing.

Survey + Product(s) + Optional Extras = Total Fee

1. Survey

YTA will inspect your facility with regards to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the applicable sections of the California Building Code Title 24, Part 2, Volume 1. YTA will always strive to base all recommendations on the very latest laws. Be wary of consultants, contractors, and architects that still rely on outdated codes. If it deems appropriate, YTA will collect data, including measurements and photographs. The survey is a visual inspection only. Any deficiencies which are not visible at the time of the survey cannot be included.

See here for a guide on how to put a price tag on your ADA Requirements.

Price: The minimum Survey Fee is $488. This price includes most places of public accommodation (e.g. a business open to the public) of up to 500 square feet and the closest parking lot of up to 25 spaces. For surveys that only address parking and exterior common ares, the minimum fee applies for parking lots up to 75 spaces. The actual Survey Fee depends largely on the size and complexity of the scope of the survey. Please contact us for a quote.

There is an additional travel charge of $2 per mile outside of Los Angeles County. If it is necessary to split the Survey over more than one day (for example for a very large Scope, or if part of the Scope is inaccessible for any reason) there is an additional destination charge of $150 per day.