Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Conducting Effective Accessibility Surveys conference call. At this time, all participants are on a listen only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require assistance, please press star then zero on your touchtone telephone. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would like to turn the call over to your, host Peter Berg.
Thank you very much, and welcome, good day, good afternoon, good morning to the folks across the country as you join us on the ADA Audio Conference Series. The ADA Audio Conference Series is a project of the ADA National Network also known as Disability Business Technical Assistance Center funded by the US Department of Education National Institute and Disability Rehabilitation and Research. The ADA National Network is a recognized leader in training and information for businesses, employers, government entities and individuals with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act. For today''s session, I want to let folks know that we have people joining us by telephone. We also have individuals joining us through audio streaming coming through their computers, and we also have individuals who are using real time captioning to join today''s session. At a later point, individuals will have an opportunity to ask questions. The Operator will give instructions on how to do that for the people participating by telephone and individuals using audio streaming can submit questions electronically. And one other note for participants, the PowerPoint presentation that is being used by the presenters today will be sent out to all of the participants following today''s session. So, you will have access to that PowerPoint presentation, and that''s in addition to the handout that was already made available in the session material section of the ADA audio conference website. Alright, the facilitator for today''s panel discussion is going to be Don Brandon. Don is the project director of the Northwest ADA Center located in Washington. Don is an expert in the areas of reasonable accommodation, accessible design and implementation, as well as systemic program review and evaluation. So at this point, since we have a crowded panel, I will turn it over to Don to facilitate today''s audio session. Go ahead, Don.
Thank you, Peter, and welcome to the folks that are listening in across the US. I''d like to take a moment to briefly introduce and give you a real quick bio of the different people that are participating in our panel discussion today, and to let you also know that we''re doing two sessions on this, on how to conduct an accessibility survey. And our first session is going to concentrate and look mainly at conducting accessibility surveys of buildings and facilities, and our second survey, our second teleconference which takes place April 20th will be looking at the exterior environment, like public rights of way, outdoor, trails, parks and recreation sites, and that type of thing. So, we''ve divided that up sort of an inside look for accessibility and usability and an outside look of accessibility and usability. And so, the folks that we''ve asked to participate in this are not enforcement officials. They''re much more practitioners and have a very broad background in working with ADA compliance for the last 20 years. And one of the first people I want to introduce is Bill Hecker. Bill is a registered architect and he is working as a consultant with and for the Department of Justice and expert witness on several groundbreaking cases, and he''s out of, I want to say Alabama but I think you''re living somewhere else now. Bill let you talk about that when we get to that part. And our other, our next panel participant is named Randy Dipner. Randy''s out of the Rocky Mountain region, and he is a--had a pretty broad background in accessibility survey and ADA self evaluation transition plan development in a lot of state local governments and has a pretty broad background, which is also available on your website. And then there''s Mark Derry who comes right out of the trenches of leading accessibility in developing a level of expertise in these areas out of Virginia and hes with us today. And then our other panelist is Dr. Barney Fleming who hails from the University of Kentucky where he retired, where he worked with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and developing accessibility checklist for them, and is also in his second reincarnation, is working for DBTAC Northwest, helping us with some of our accessibility design checklist implementation kinds of features. And so with that, that''s who are panelists are. And for a more in-depth review of who they are and what they do, I''ll leave that information and make it available to you from the website, ''cause it goes in much more detail. And so, as we get started today, we wanted to talk about 7 questions in the next 60 minutes. And after we get to our 60-minute time of discussion, we wanted to open it up for questions from the audience. So, after our time of discussion and interaction is done, then we''ll take questions online and by phone and as Peter said, the operator will be the person that helps us figure out how that takes place. So, topics for today''s agenda include question number 1 will be identifying the team to collect data, and then topic number 2 will be preparation, assessment of client need, and which standards/codes to apply. Topic number 3, what kind of tools do you use, smart level, door pressure gauge, tape measure. Do you use the ADA checklist? Do you involve a camera, what kind of camera? A digital camera, a video camera. Do you use floor plans if they''re needed? Or are there other tools that you suggest be included, or is that going to be specific to the different types of audit you work with. Then we''re going to talk about the scope of work, where we talk about the comprehends--a comprehensive facility audit or space specific elements just being evaluated, and for what purposes might they be different or separated out that way. And then number 5, we''ll look at the onsite audit, what to look for, what to analyze? What to summarize and privatize. Then topic number 6 would be the deliverables. Deliverables are like the final report. Do you include pictures or do you not include them, and then there''ll be the follow-up that you do as a practitioner in this field. And as we go through our first topic of discussion, I want to remind the speakers, if I don''t introduce you, do introduce yourself. And our first topic will be to identify the theme to collect data, and we''re going to do a round robin for the first question and then let it be a little more reactionary after that. And for our first question, what does the beginning access auditor need to have, or what advice would you give the beginning access surveyor or auditor? I''m going to kick that to Bill Hecker and then we will ask Randy Dipner to comment, give his comment, then Mark Derry, and then Dr. Barney Fleming. So Bill, go ahead.
Thanks Don. This is Bill Hecker. In my experience, the beginning auditor needs to know a number of things, and I''m sure the other speakers will elaborate on this as well. The first of which is an understanding of the need that we''ll discuss in a few minutes of their clients or the person that''s hiring them or is directing their analysis of a particular building or facility. And dependent upon the nature of the survey that is going to be conducted, you''re going to need different tools, checklist and abilities to evaluate the facility. The facility compliance provisions of ADA in particular are divided into three categories. You have the highest level of analysis associated with new construction. This is the newly constructed building after the effective date in 1992 or ''93, depending on the nature of the client. And then it goes down from there in terms of accessibility analysis to alteration provisions and then also existing buildings and barrier removal. And depending on the nature of the analysis, be it new constructions alterations or some sort of barrier removal analysis, you can use different types of tools and techniques and checklist, and I''ll kick it over to whoever was next. I guess it was Randy, and he can pick up from there.
This is Randy Dipner. I''m going to be very literal about this. Just say that for me, I think the most important tool that anybody uses, whether it''s a beginner or somebody who features themselves as an expert is some form of checklist. And the problem is that a building, even the simplest building is pretty complicated. And if you don''t have some sort of checklist that you''re following, the chances are you''re going to miss something. And beyond that, the sort of basic tools, and I know we''re going to talk about this again in another question. A smart level, something that can tell you the slope, you need a tape measure. That''s probably your most basic tool. A pressure gauge of some sort to tell you the pressure of opening a door, and for me I think maybe one of the most valuable tools I have in my kit when I go is a digital camera. What I find is that after I''ve gone through a place and taken all the measurements and come back to actually do some analysis of that, I inevitably look at those measurements and ask my--after I''ve looked at 10 different bathrooms and I can''t remember which one was which, having a photograph of a lot of those, those elements, even if I don''t include it in a report, it''s very useful to me to actually make sense of the notes that I took while I was onsite. I''ll leave it at that and kick it over to the next.
This is Mark Derry. Those are great points, and I would also include the idea of once gathering some tools and checklists, making sure you have a good basic knowledge as you''re going into the thing. There''s a website, adabasics.org, if no one has had any experience with ADA that they can go to, and at least to establish a foundation of knowledge to work with. The other important thing that I would highly recommend is don''t just start right of with your survey but get some practice in. Take the tools, including the checklist. Always allow more time for everything you''re doing than what you think it''s going to take, including the report, and practice a bit on facilities before you do one that really counts. And I think I''ll pass it on.
I just--I guess a couple of things I''d like to add is that I think sometimes that a floor plan is pretty useful when you''re doing the survey. Randy talked about taking pictures and stuff like that. That''s a great way to document it, but in addition to that, kind of a general overview of the facility and sort of a graphic format. And I guess the other thing ''cause we''ve talked about the tools, and we''ll probably get into this later, but how you use those tools and how you make measurements, like clear openings and clear widths and things like that I think are really critical. We do a lot of training here and I think that we spent quite a bit of time in the beginning of that training showing people how to actually use those tools. And again, I think it''s--it''s very easy to makes mistakes. I think we''ll probably come out on that later, the group, but I think we''ve all seen people we''ve worked with make some pretty basic mistakes on how the tools are used.
Okay, for our next question. When--for people that are listening in who may never have gone through this process before and are looking around for someone to assist them with access audits, what type of access auditor should be avoided. And Bill, do you have any thoughts about that?
Yeah, I''ll tell you that in my experience, the analysis for accessibility of an existing facility, be it new construction alterations or are truly barrier removal existing facility is a cast for somebody that is rather [inaudible] sequential in personality type. Someone that can follow the checklist, not get frustrated by a routine and an analysis process that has to be replicated over and over and over again, because you may be going into a building that has, as I just did recently, 36 different bathrooms. I had to measure every toilet in 30 different bathrooms. And if you don''t have the type of personality that doesn''t get frustrated with saying, "oh my gosh, I have to do another bathroom," then it''s probably isn''t a task for you. And it may not be the task for someone that just doesn''t like go and get the bathrooms to begin with. But a lot of the analysis of accessibility has to do with rather mundane measurements. This is--I won''t say it boring, but it can definitely get to the point where you feel, or some people feel that they''d rather be doing something else. If you''re not passionate about the topic, this probably isn''t the type of task you want to be doing, unless your audit or your analysis project is very limited. If you''re the owner of a convenience store and the whole store has only 1200 square feet, then the overall analysis of your building is not going to be all that complicated, so any one person can muscle through that process for the limited time that it would make to go through the analysis of that small building. But if you''re going to make this your career, you want to check yourself and see if you were the type of person that doesn''t mind repeating the same procedure over and over and over again, that has consistency in analysis and consistency in measurement is absolutely crucial in this process.
Okay, Bill, thank you. Randy.
Let me just say that I absolutely agree with what was just said. In fact in our office, these reports have been come to be known as toilet reports because it seems that the most common thing that we''re measuring is the heights of toilets and the positioning of them, and it''s not at all uncommon to have 36 of them in one building, particularly if it''s a medical facility. The other thing that I think is important to be aware of is that often, when you''re doing a facility audit, you''re going to be auditing areas that are not accessible. Many of these buildings were built before the ADA and so much as I hate to say it, at times, a person who uses a wheelchair is not the best auditor because that person simply can''t get into the facility to do the audit. We don''t require an elevator in every building, and if you use a wheelchair, it may be impossible to get to the second floor to do the audit. So, that can be a problem. I would say that one other item is that you sort of have to check your--your disability advocacy at the door. This is a rather mundane task of taking a lot of measurements. The goal of this is to accurately take the measurements, to make the assessment and to do it in a very objective and straightforward manner. So, there certainly is a role for advocacy, but I think during the process of doing the survey, that''s really not what the role of the auditor is. I''ll kick it along.
Just a couple of quick points to add to that. The--when we''re looking at who the team is though on many projects, it will be a team effort with many stakeholders. There''s always room for folks to use chairs on the teams, somebody else can do something else while that person is doing something else. The people to watch for are folks who based their survey data on their personal disability, that''s no good. You got to look at the big picture. And as far as people to avoid for surveyors, you want to make sure somebody''s got the whole picture, not just the personal perspective, or that they have a lack of history of doing surveying. Like any other contracting, if they don''t have references, that should be a flag for you.
I don''t have--I guess I don''t have a whole lot to comment on. I don''t know if we want to--we''re not going to start the discussion now, but I guess the other thing is that some people that the question I have sometimes is the role that the property owner, the facility managers, those kinds of people might have in this to sort of guide you through some of the facility. I mean sometimes I think it''s almost necessary, but on the other hand like you see, you know, you don''t want folks like that to kind of get in the way and you need to be objective in--in making these measurements and stuff like that and going through it. I don''t think it''s necessarily a problem but oftentimes like you see, you''ll have the building owner or somebody accompany you in--and that--I don''t know if that can become an issue or not.
Don, I like to follow up. This is Bill Hecker.
I just want to reiterate that what Mark said, I think that doing facility audits is an outstanding team opportunity and indeed it--every audit team will benefit from the input of the variety of team members, and including the benefits that team members with various disabilities might bring to the table. Even though you may be using a checklist and you''re going down one item after the other and the requirements are enumerated in great detail, the context and the nature of a given barrier can be a great learning tool for the whole team. So each member of the team, whether they''re the person just taking the photographs or they''re the person doing measurements or they''re the person reading the questions to the rest of the team, every member of the team can bring something to the table as you go through the audit process.
Okay, let''s move on to our next question. How much training does a business owner need to conduct a review of their facility?
This is Hecker. I''ll tell you, in my experience, it again depends on the nature of the facility. If you are the owner of the convenience store, you better have a pretty decent checklist if you are analyzing your building for the first time for accessibility. Let''s say for instance you just became the owner of a new convenience store on that corner 7/11 type space, and you want to determine if this new facility that you just purchased and you''re going to be operating as a business is going to put you at risk for discriminating against people with disabilities. You may take one of the checklists that we''re going to discuss in more detail later on down the road and just with yourself go through the questions and make observations. Another alternative is to hire a consulting company or a not-for-profit organization that does these types of audits professionally or on a regular basis, and get opinions from them. So, a lot of that is dependent upon the nature of your need. And I know we''re going to talk about that in more detail here in a minute, but that''s my thought is that it''s dependent on the nature of the need.
I''m going to pass on this. I think otherwise we''re never gonna get all the way through the many things that we want to cover.
Oh dude, threw me a curve. Okay, fine. This is Mark. It totally depends on the project as far as you''re prepped and determining what--you''re going to need to handle the scope of the project. And it could be--bear in mind it could be a very detail-oriented survey that''s more official, say for court use, or a simpler level of survey that might just be an assessment to look for obvious barriers to a program or service that may or may not lead to an additional more detailed survey. So, a lot of these depend on what level we''re taking it to going into the job.
I''ll just make one brief point here that again, we do a lot of training here with business owners, and I guess there''s always that initial, you know, survey and stuff that, you know, that we''d like our people to be able to do and capable of doing. But, there''s always that ongoing responsibility that business owners have, and so--I mean you may hire a consultant once, right? You come in and do an audit and stuff like that. But, you know, again every time an alteration is made, again you have an ongoing responsibility to maintain accessibility and--so I think training people to do it themselves is a really a good idea if it can be done.
Okay, moving on to our second topic, preparation, which have--deals with the assessment of client need, and which standards and codes to apply. Randy I think Ill let you kick off this one. You had some comments about a differentiation between a self-evaluation and transition plan, and then we''ll get into our specifics.
And I know we''ve got some folks that are city government types, and I just want to differentiate between doing a facility audit and doing what under Title II of the ADA is called a self-evaluation. Self-evaluation is a much broader requirement that goes well beyond the physical access and includes all of the policies and procedures of the organization for every program that that Title II entity has, and also includes all of the employment practices. And so there is a big difference between a self-evaluation under Title II, or for that matter, under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and a simple or more straightforward facility audit, which is a part of the self-evaluation. I''d also like to suggest that there are a lot of different kinds of facilities. We''ve already kind of been mentioning these, but to do an audit that''s applicable for the Fair Housing Act is considerably different than doing one under the ADA. Doing one for a federally funded housing facility is different than a fair housing audit. And even within the ADA, looking at a historic site, adds a whole raft of additional kinds of requirements to consider.
Okay, thank you. What are your thoughts--Mark, I''m going to kick this one to you. What are your thoughts on integrating regulations with standards?
I think you need to look at where are you surveying, what standards apply. Years ago, we could get 15 different combinations of building codes and standards under code, and we had the ADAAG, but prior to ADA, there would be laws like Rehab Act or ABA where we''d have to look at certain types of buildings under certain types of guidance. And so, we need to determine upfront what we''re supposed to be using for the particular project we''re working. A lot of times, the standards that you''re looking at, if the ADA tells us to look at the most stringent standard and it said that when it was written, and today, we look at code standards versus the ADA accessibility standard, we see where we can use equivalent facilitation sometimes, we see where ranges have been applied in revisions to the building code standards for accessibility that we could possibly refer to. We also need to separate between observations that we do according to the standards versus recommendations we make based on our experience, working with people with disabilities and doing this kind of work. And I believe on every entry that we do, I believe you have to have you ADAAG or standard or code entry with your comments to backup each one of your comments, as well as giving someone, the reader, a reference to go to concerning your comments and where it''s a recommendation clearly states so in the same place where you would put in the standard recommendation.
Bill, how do you handle elements not covered by any--
I''m sorry. Don, could I--I just wanted [inaudible] real quick just to follow up on what Randy''s point and mention that the June audio conference session is going to feature Irene Bowen, formerly of the US Department of Justice, along with Sally Conway of the US Department of Justice talking about self-evaluation and transition planning for title to governmental entities.
Okay. Thanks Peter. Bill, how do you handle elements not covered by any standard?
Yeah. The Department of Justice in their Title III commentary to their regulation says it--that if the ADA standards does not have a specification for a given area of a building, let''s take for example, getting into a swimming pool at a hotel, a newly constructed hotel. There are no standards in the current ADA standards or no classifications in the current ADA standards that tell you exactly how to get into the swimming pool. There is a requirement that the swimming pool be accessible and on an accessible route. But the requirement for actually transferring into the swimming pool was not enumerated when the ADA standards where published back in ''91 and then ''94. The commentary says is you use the language in the regulations as guide. The language and the regulation says that a newly constructed facility should be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. And the legislative history or ADA in particular, defines that standard as a high degree of convenience accessibility. You often--and I know I do this, go to alternate, maybe not yet binding specifications, ANSI specifications proposed ADAAG specifications and other sources to bind alternative standards that you can recommend to your client as an alternative to those lacking specific provisions in the ADAAG.
Alright. Randy, any comment?
Yeah. I term that area best practices, and we''ll certainly be talking about that next month when we talk about exterior public rights of way, because those are not yet, as we just discussed, formal standards. They''re in a draft form yet and will remain that way for some time. But for example, the US Department of Transportation has acknowledged them as the current best practice of the art. And so that''s what we point to, and again, differentiating, saying this is a recommendation, this is a best practice. And pointing to where I got that best practice and differentiating it from an adherence to an accepted standard.
Okay. And, Barney?
I guess I was just going to follow up just real briefly on that as I think that sometimes you have to be a little bit innovative with some of this stuff, but the specific element is not covered in the standard. I think sometimes, an understanding of the accessibility of basic elements, you know, ramp slopes, seat heights, reaches and things like that, reach range and those kinds of things. Sometimes help you, again, just application of some of the stuff, the information and knowledge you have about the requirements for basic elements, sometimes you can build up a pretty good picture for some types of elements that are not covered.
Okay. Mark, we''re going to start this next question off with you. How do you separate observation from recommendation?
You tried to give me that question last time. The--I''m going to pass, actually.
I''ll cover that one if you don''t mind?
What do you think of that, Mr. Hecker, go ahead.
I''ll cover that because this is an area that in litigation is critically important. I do a lot of my facility audits within the context of dealing with some owner or entity that has been sued or is about to be sued. And when you''re in a litigation context, I do not make any recommendations at all. I make observations about the current conditions. Now, here out, and again, you''re back to the data known as the 7-11. If you''re out there trying to find out what you can do to increase the accessibility for your clients or your customers, that''s a whole new different issue, and recommendations are absolutely critical to serving that client properly. But it''s--the key to understanding the client''s needs as to whether you''re going to set the recommendations portion of you consult or analysis. In the beginning of the process, after you''ve made your observations, or hold it until you determine the--how the issue is going to tell how either the lawsuit will be resolved, be it for mediation or settlement, or whether it''s going to go to trial. In trial, it''s very rare that you''re going to make recommendations one way or another. As a plaintiff''s expert, you''re just going to identify barriers.
This is--this is Randy Dipner, and let me just add to that that as we go out and do facility surveys, we really enforce a rigorous standard that says, when you go out and take measurements, you''re making observations. Don''t do any analysis at that point, don''t try to think through what you might recommend for a particular, potentially barrier, but simply make the observations. What we''ve found, and I found it myself, and I do it. If I slip over into thinking about the analysis of a toilet room as opposed to just taking the measurements, I''m liable to miss something. I''m not in observation mode. So it''s important to get the observations first and then make an actual effort to change over from observing to analyzing, and then making a recommendation based on that analysis, but to keep the different steps separated.
Don, this is Mark. Now I got two cents.
And if based on the perspective that we each do different projects under different circumstances, many of the projects that I do are based on someone calling me and to help them through the barrier removal process. And while I don''t have access to their checkbook and can''t make any calls, as far as what can or can''t be affordable, I can because of my vast construction background, give them a lot of ideas for solutions. I like to make a practice of pointing out three solutions for every barrier I point out. And again, it''s--there''s a place for Randy''s type of separation, and there''s another kind of project where if you''re trying to remove barriers, and you''re not trying--and you''re trying not to survey the thing two or three times, you need somebody who''s got the background to come up with the solutions at the same time.
Okay. Thank you, Mark. Let''s go to our next topic. And because we''re--in deference to time, what tools do you use? Smart level, door pressure gauge, tape measure, ADAAG checklist, camera, video or digital, a floor plan if needed or available or other tools, how important is the checklist. Why do you, do you, or don''t you use a checklist when conducting the accessibility audit? And what are your thoughts about the effectiveness list, and usability of the checklist produced by the Department of Justice, already achievable barrier removal and the US Access Board''s more exhaustive checklist. And let''s start with--Randy, we''ll start with you on this one.
I''ll just make a--I already kind of commented on the tools, and I think that that the fundamental basic tools, the--certainly a tape measure, some sort of a level, smart level, door pressure gauge, and as I said, a digital camera is just indispensable, and absolutely positively, you have to use a checklist. If you''re actually doing an audit, it''s critical. Otherwise, you''ll miss something. And we have actually taken kind of all the different checklist and mush them together to create our own, just through experience, and modified those checklists to some extent because we found it more efficient. But checklists are really at the heart of this thing. At least, for me, they are.
Well, the tools are readily available, and there are several different types out on the market. Most have us have gotten used to using that yellow two-foot smart tool that you see folks using at the digital level. And a door gauge for testing poundage on not only doors, but other operating mechanisms is called for in our important checklist. You can use a fish scale and a string with two loops tied in it instead of a door--an official door gauge for surveying. You can use a standard two-foot level if you know three critical measurements that Bill and I talk about in our training. Maximum slope on a two-foot level of a ramp is two inches for a critical measurement when you''re holding the level level. Along a 5 percent maximum accessible route, that critical measurement is inch and a quarter. And for all your cross slope measurements, it''s a half an inch under the open end of the level when you''re holding it level on one of those slopes. Just a plain old two-foot level and you can do that with the two inch, one and a quarter, and half inch measurement. But having those basic tools is important, and if you''re going to do it and charge anybody for it, I''d highly recommend doing the tools that have been accepted through the courts such as the digital level, an actual door pressure gauge and a good tape measure, you know, on a good sturdy tape measure that locks in place, as well as your digital camera for recording because folks have gotten used to seeing the photos as they''re looking at the issues.
So if you''re going to do it cheap, you better be smart. And if you''re going to be--have the resources, then it just--make sure that they''re calibrated accurately.
Yes, sir. And you can actually get a digital level without spending all the money on a smart tool by going to Sears. They have digital levels. There are tools out there, it''s not like 20 years ago when we started this and we had to develop which tools are which and measurement protocols for measuring various things.
Okay, Bill. What are your thoughts of the effectiveness and usability of the checklist produced by DOJ?
I think that it''s critically important as the other speakers have said, to use a checklist, particularly for the beginning auditor. I know that I cut my teeth on the UFAS checklist which was, you know, predecessor of the Access Board''s ADAAG checklist before there was an ADA. And the checklist that the Access Board offers is an outstanding training tool for educating future auditors. When you go out and do an analysis of an--a building, you can use this checklist from the US Access Board to analyze and orchestrate and organize your audit of the facility. They take you by the hand, walk you through every step of the way, and it''s almost an idiot-proof strategy. Now, we''ll tell you it is unbelievably burdensome and unwieldy if you are going to audit anything larger than your master bedroom in your house. [ Laughter ]
So if you are going to use the Access Board''s checklist, take a tip from me. The tip is to create your own answer sheet for each of the checklist. This is a sheet that--let''s say you''re going to analyze using the checklist questions curved ramps, but every site''s going to have more than one curved ramp or probably have more than one curved ramp. So put a dozen curved ramps on a single sheet and just use a separate sheet, kind of like you would do in school on the answer sheet to fill in the answers to the questions that are placed on, or part of the US Access Board''s ADAAG checklist. It will aid in analyzing the data immeasurably.
Okay. Randy, any thoughts before we go on?
No, I think everybody''s covered it.
I have a quick thought on checklists. I''m sorry, this is Mark. You--we mentioned the readily achievable barrier removal checklist which is the checklist that''s got the least amount of detail to it. We''ve also mentioned the US Access Board checklist, which to me, is the mother of all checklists. But do know, listeners, that there are checklists that are more focused on the DOJ website that are better and more thorough than that readily achievable barrier removal checklist, such as the lodging, the polling place, and the homeless shelter''s checklist on that website, ada.gov.
Yeah, this is Bill Hecker. There also are checklists now available through the access--excuse me, through the Department of Justice website, under what''s called the Project Civic Access Tool Kit for State and Local Governments. And these checklists are outstanding as well, but they''re not in--they''re not complete. They just take a few key areas. One of the key areas we''ll be talking about in April, because they have taken great pains to identifying and develop a checklist on curved ramps and the public right of way.
I guess the only thing I want to point out is I guess the one we''ve been talking about, the achieve--readily achievable barrier removal checklist from DOJ. I mean, it''s a great checklist and stuff like that, but one thing, it just isn''t complete. I''d say there are virtually no pictures and not a whole lot of room for actually writing notes and making the measurement. It''s a lot of yes-no stuff with some information in there on measurement. But it doesn''t scale up to large facilities very well.
It doesn''t ask you about grab bars.
Yeah, I think you''re right. Notice some things missing, that''s for sure.
Okay. Let''s talk about the scope of work when conducting a comprehensive facility audit, or a space-specific elements being evaluated. What''s the difference between these two? Let''s--Randy, we''ll start with you.
Well, I think we''ve been talking about that all along, and a number of the speakers have mentioned the need to kind of answer this question before you get started. Is this a phone call from somebody that''s trying to remove a barrier, an existing barrier? Or is it somebody talking about can buildings on a campus area--or exactly, what is it? And--so the scope of work is going to vary a lot, and a comprehensive facility audit where we really do get down into taking every measurement of everything in every single element that we report on is documented, is quite a bit different than just looking at one space. Go ahead, whoever else.
Well, this is Mark. And it carries a different amount of liability with each as well, but you''re going To want input from the facility folks that you''re working with, as far as exactly what kind of data we need to collect, what scope, and that''s going To determine our deliverables that we''re going To talk about in just a few minutes. But one very much depends on the other. The whole process depends on the level of liability that we''re willing to take on as the auditors or the surveyors, and the project scope itself.
I don''t have anything to add to that. I think we''ve covered it already.
I would say the same thing.
Okay. Let''s look at the onsite audit. What should we look for? Analyze, summarize, and prioritize. Bill, we''ll start with you.
Yeah, the first thing to do is to talk to your client to determine the expectations that they have regarding the analysis and survey of your facility. Get very, very familiarized with their need. And once you know the needs, you can focus like a laser beam on solving their problem. Their problem may be that they have just purchased the new building and they need a comprehensive analysis of accessibility at that building, or they may be doing what''s referred to as a due diligence analysis of a building they''re proposing to purchase. And in those situations, your review of the facility is critically important for the negotiation of the price of the project. I''ve done this a number of times, and once you go in there to identify the barriers in that context, the barriers are tallied up with a given cost and then deducted from the value of the building, or the asking price.
Yeah, this is Randy. I think that we just touched on at the end of that comment, and that is the cost. And a lot of folks don''t have the ability to go that next step from--I think you should put a ramp in over those two steps, and the ramp is going to be 12 feet long and have handrails on both sides and so on and so forth, and the question that almost immediately arises is, what''s that going to cost me? And again, depending on the scope issue that we talked about previously, I believe that it''s reasonable to expect an auditor to be able to at least provide some kind of an estimate of is this 5-dollar project or is this 5,000-dollar project? And to be able to do that based on the area of the country, it''s certainly a lot different to build something in Colorado Springs than--or Butte, Montana, than it is in New York City or Los Angeles. So simply the cost of materials and labor are different, and it--I think it''s important for, again, depending on the scope of the project, for an auditor to be able to do that. And to be able to help in the prioritization, you know which of the things that we''ve identified as barriers are easy to remove, and which of them are particularly high-risk? And in the high-risk area, we want to consider both pure safety issues. This really needs to be fixed because somebody''s going to get hurt as a result of it. And I hate to say it, but for building owners, a lot of times, the high risk has to do with high risk of litigation. There are certainly some things that are more--that present a greater risk for litigation than others. And I think all of those are elements of things that have to be considered as you''re doing an audit.
Right. Alright, good. Moving on, how do you prioritize what barriers to remove first? What advice do you give to the people we work with? And Barney, I''m going to start that with you.
I guess that, you know, where I would start it is the Department of Justice and the regulation to actually specify the--a list of--a way that--ways to prioritize restrooms, entrances, that kind of stuff. So I guess reference to the regulation would be one of the best places to start, which reminds me.
Yeah, and those regulations identifying a prioritization that basically allows folks with disabilities to get into the front door first, and then to get to the areas of the facility that offer goods and services or programs, and then access to areas where you might need to go to the bathroom, it might be that the nature of the goods and services are rarely such that you would typically be there long enough to have to go to the bathroom. So if you''re going in say to the post office that doesn''t have a bathroom, your bathroom accessibility''s probably going to be nil. But priority to get to the counter and to actually buy some stamps or to mail off a letter or something is very, very critical.
Well, I don''t really have a lot to add to that. Just to follow up though, we just used the example of the post office, just to make sure that everybody on this listening in doesn''t get too confused. Remember that a post office is a federal government agency and not bound by the ADA, but rather by the Rehabilitation Act. So I grant you that we still need to make them accessible, but the rules under which a post office is accessible are a little different than those under the ADA.
This is Mark. Getting back to prioritizing the barriers, one of the things that Randy mentioned is important, if you''re one of those folks among our listeners who have the technical expertise to not only prioritize by the one through four priorities that the Department of Justice gets us, we also, at my firm, on our spread sheets around that column as well as another column, that break things down into liabilities versus barriers, versus technical minor and major code issues, and so we do break it down. We want to get rid of those liability issues first. And what Randy mentioned about costing, some surveyors are qualified to do that. Some are not. Many times, the building owner will have a person, an architect or someone they work with regularly, who already prices their stuff and they''ll be able to fill that in. There is a resource from a company called RS Means, called the ADA cost catalogue. RS Means makes construction estimating books. If you''re going to do much of these, I highly recommend a construction estimating course, if you''re going to work with architects or large projects.
Thank you, Mark. Let''s talk about deliverables in the final report. What should be included, pictures or not? When do you know you have covered all the bases when removing architectural barriers? Randy?
Well, again, we''re back to the checklist. And I really think that making sure that you follow the checklist and cover--that''s the only way you can kind of guarantee yourself, that after you walk out of the building, that you''ve actually touched everything that you should. Can you ever be 100 percent sure? I''m here to tell you that I don''t believe that even a person who starts out to build a building brand new from the start and has consultants involved in it from the start, can ever create a building in which I can''t eventually find something that''s wrong. [ Laughter ]
You''re that good.
It''s just--well, the fact--no, I don''t--I''m not that good.
I think problem is that the rules are that complicated and a building is a complex element that has lots of elements that interact with each other. And each individual element may be completely accessible and somehow, the two elements interacting create a problem. And those are the kind of things that are really difficult to detect when you''re doing a survey.
Exactly. This is--and also the variability of it. A person with a disability may interact with that element differently from the mainstream.
Well, not everything works for everybody, either. You''re always going to have--this is Mark, sorry. You''re always going to have an exception, the guidelines or minimum guidelines for accessibility, they truly don''t work for everyone. And the other two factors that come into that, why I would never--I guarantee that the new construction facility is code compliant, but depending on the program that''s in there, could create barriers as they move into the building, or maintenance of accessible features can screw up really good accessibility.
I agree with what everybody else has said. I''ve got one pet peeve though, and that is with regard to deliverables, I am a put your money where your mouth is kind of guy. I think that it is critically important that you do not hire an accessibility auditor that will charge you 25,000 dollars to analyze the accessibility of an existing building, and then you don''t have any money at all to remove barriers. I think you have to begin the process with an expectation of what the end-result will be. If your client has 25,000 dollars, let''s spend 5,000 dollars identifying a minimal entry level high priority review of barriers, and then we''re going to spend the other 20,000 dollars actually removing the barriers. Let''s get the most bang for the buck.
Good advice. What types of deliverable should a client expect from an access audit? Bill?
Of course most clients will expect a list of barriers that these things are a list of violations of the ADA, depending--or fair housing, or whatever the accessibility standard to which you''re working. You want to give your clients a list of those problems. Depending upon the context of your retention, you may also--and in the context of let''s say, a general business coming to you to audit their facilities to make barrier removal, they will expect that you give them recommendations on how to remove those barriers and generally what it would cost, so they could plan from a capital planning standpoint on how to pull those modifications into their budgets over the next year or further, if necessary, more years after that.
Should consist of a written report with copy on CD. The report can either be in the form of a written narrative type report, still including your ADAAG references. Usually, we provide an introduction to say what the report''s going to look like, sometimes an executive summary of some of the major barriers that we found. The other type of report is an Excel or Access spreadsheet type of report, again, would have an intro, possibly an executive summary--a summary, and we always give people resources as well as photos with their report.
I guess the only thing I would say is that I obviously want to make sure that you have the dates and the people, then the qualifications of people who did it and on what date and stuff like that. And sometimes, again, this all depends. We''re talking about barriers, but I think oftentimes, for businesses, it''s a nice thing maybe sometimes to point out some of the really positive good things about the accessibilities of the facilities it self too.
Yeah, the one thing I would--I just want to echo a little bit, the comment about the--like the ADAAG references, or if you''re not using the ADAAG, you''re using some other standard references, I think it''s--well, I like a summary table, and I''ve used Access databases and Excel spreadsheets to do that. I think that what''s really helpful, and I think every client should demand it, is okay, how did you come up with this particular recommendation you''re making? Can you point to the section of the ADAAG or other standard that led you to say that this is either right or not right? I think that kind of--the narrative piece is a pretty important piece to go with almost every report. But it certainly depends back again, pointing back to that scope issue. If this is the analysis of one element of a building, I think the nature of the report is considerably different than if it''s again, for an entire city, for example.
Not--this is Bill Hecker. Let me reiterate real quickly. If you do use the Access Board''s large ADAAG checklist, do not give the client every single page. It will be hundreds of-- [ Laughter ] Pages. They don''t care. They want to know what the individual problems are. Summarize that as Mark mentioned. Make an executive summary which list the location and the nature of the barrier, and what the citation to the standard is. But don''t burden the clients with having to review a thousand pages of checklist just to find out the 500 things that they need to fix.
So they don''t need the whole bale of hay just enough to get them to the day.
Alright. Based upon your experience, what would plaintiffs need to look for when considering filing complaints about accessibility? Randy?
Actually, I''ll tell you what. I''m going to defer on these next two to the guys that have done a lot more of the expert witness type approach, ''cause I think their answers will be much more useful.
Bill. No, I''m just kidding.
Based on my experience, especially here lately, one of the most important thing--couple of important things. Somebody needs to be discriminated against; you need to have a plaintiff that has a disability. They need to be--expecting to return to that place and do business. Many cases have been [inaudible] on summary judgment based on the fact that there wasn''t a likelihood of the plaintiff to return to that business. Also, make sure that what you''re asking for is readily achievable barrier removal is indeed readily achievable barrier removal, because that''s the way the courts are now going as far as before, it was always up to the building owner or facility manager to prove that something wasn''t readily achievable. These days, the courts are actually looking to the plaintiffs to prove that what they''re asking for is indeed reasonable. Bill?
I agree. This is Bill Hecker. These are good lawyer questions. If you''re going to file a complaint, get a lawyer that''s knowledgeable and experienced in accessibility lawsuits. They''ll know what they need to get through the process. If you''re a person with a disability and you''re just thinking, look, I want to make some money, then you can find a lawyer like that. There are a lot of lawyers out there but--
Move to California or Florida.
And a lot of them are in California and Florida. Just seems to be that way. But there--there--it--there is an extremely target rich environment for ADA and other [inaudible] lawsuits right now. We are not at the end of litigation regarding ADA. Even though we''re 20 years in, there are some ADA lawsuits that are the first of their kind coming out, just because of the nature of the--of the statute, the nature of the implementation of the regulations. Be mindful, we just had a gargantuan settlement in litigation out in California regarding public rights of way, one of the largest ever, a billion one in a Caltrans, that''s California Department of Transportation, ADA settlement case. This was huge. And it is going to be the lawyer''s job to fill out this particular [inaudible] the checklist. Whether you''re preparing to defend yourself, or whether you''re preparing to file a complaint, it is a team effort where the lawyer has to get involved.
Okay. Next question, based upon your experience, what would defendants have to prepare for in defending themselves against complaints about access? Bill?
I''ll tell you that you have to deal with real world risk management. This is something that goes outside the scope of the typical auditor''s expertise and gets into risk management methodology and procedure depending on your location. Again, if you''re a business defending yourself in Florida or California, you have a much higher likelihood of finding your self facing an ADA complaint on some of the compliance that you would if you''re say in Louisiana or Iowa, just because of the very proactive bar, that is the attorneys that file lawsuits under ADA and other federal laws in those two states. But to defend yourself and to prepare yourself for defense, have all your ducks in a row. The easiest thing to do is to make your building as bulletproof as possible. Fix the accessibility barriers. It''s not too difficult to minimize the likelihood of someone suing you if you have fewer and fewer accessibility barriers. Also, pay particular attention to those barriers that I''d like to call curve appeal barriers. This is accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zones, curved ramps, detectable warnings are key, signage is key, things that as someone may approach your facility with the intention of identifying potential barriers and filing lawsuit against you, they go away because you''ve addressed the major approach issues in a way that would to them, identify you as a responsible business owner. Somebody to fix the things on the way into the building is very likely to have fixed the things in the bathrooms and in the program and service areas of the building.
This is Randy--this is Randy Dipner. I just want to remind everyone that good faith effort is an important component here, and that it''s right in the law that the--that good faith effort should be considered, and that leads me to say document, document, document. That is if even in building a brand new building, when there''s an issue that comes up, that might or might not need to be done in a particular way, if the builder or the architect or the owner makes a decision to put a particular kind of signage up in a particular way because they think that''s the best practice based on what they read, then they should document that. And at least in, you know, if litigation does come up, you can point to that and say we may have been wrong but we did at least make the effort. And that''s an important component here.
Thank you, Randy.
This is Mark. I agree with both of those things are taken a proactive stance, and what Bill is talking about is what we lovingly call drive-by lawsuits. And so the less stuff out front that''s wrong, the less you''re going to propel some lawyer to not even get out of his car but to try to file a complaint to work the building owner for what they call their costs. But on new construction as well as existing structures, I advice all of our clients to commence an ADA accessibility program that they can show people as a good faith effort, include facility assessments, do plan review on new projects and an incorporation of good practice on your design and construction projects.
Okay thank you. Let''s go to our follow-up topic, it''s our last one as we bring our discussions to a conclusion, I''m going to ask you to be briefer than you have been because we''ve only got about 3 or 4 minutes left for that presentation part, ''cause we want to make some time open for questions as well. How do you guarantee a 100 percent ADA compliance? Can you guarantee it, why or why not? And let''s start with Barney.
Yeah, no for me. This is Hecker.
Now, you don''t want to save this for the last, right?
Okay, just quick.
You can''t guarantee it because of all the human variables, facility variables, attitudes of people involved, et cetera, et cetera.
All you can do is have that proactive practice in place with your policies, your employee trainings to cover your turnover, maintenance of accessible features, all of that stuff goes hand in hand and should be part of your closing recommendation on any report.
Alright, next question. When the new ADAAG comes out, how will this affect compliance and vary removal?
In the spring.
Their running jokes, sorry. If you ask a federal government person when the new ADAAG is coming out, they''ll tell you in the spring since 1998.
That was Mark Derry, for those who don''t know. [ Laughter ]
For my Federal buddies.
This is Randy Dipner. I actually sat on the federal advisory committee that was involved in writing this new ADAAG or coming up with the recommendations. I can''t remember exactly when that was. I think it might have been ''94.
You started studying the problem in ''94, made recommendations in ''96, did something else in ''98 and it''s been the spring ever since. Randy Dipner That''s right, so--
But if and when this finally does happen, the effect, the most important effect to me is it will bring the ADAAG and the American--and ANSI A117 closer together. They won''t be exactly complete harmonized, but they''ll be a lot closer. And that will be a really very important step forward.
And Bill, why is that significant?
Well, it''s critically important because architects have to design to the building codes and then also comply with the federal accessibility laws. And to the degree that they''re harmonized, it makes it much more likely that the ends results of the building will not be designed based on judgment calls but be designed on good guidance, the harmonized guidance between the ADA standards that are pending and also the building code standards.
You''re always--this is Mark. You''re always going to have 2 books, so we blew harmonization ''cause of the timing of the things. We don''t have the vertical grab bar in the new ADAAG. We have it in ICC/ANSI. So if DOJ puts a vertical grab bar in the rule, then we''ll have it. Otherwise, we''ll never have harmonization and so you''re always going to have this need to look at the resources.
Okay, which brings us to the next question? What effect has the building codes or the IBC on ADAAG compliance had on a state by state basis?
This is Hecker. I''ll tell you that they have been pushing the ADA compliance. The International Building Code and the ANSI standards have been much more responsive to accessibility changes in a more proactive accessible environment than have the federal government.
I get more--this is Mark. I get more done with the building codes anymore.
Randy, comments? Barney?
I agree. I mean really I think at least in our state anyway.
Okay. And with that, we''ll open it up to questions. Thank you all for being as succinct as possibly could be. And Peter, we''ll kick it over you to [simultaneous talking].
Sure. Operator, could you rejoin us and give participants instructions on how they can get in the queue to ask a question please.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press star then 1 on your touchtone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself in the queue, please press the pound key.
Don, I''m going to slip in a question really quick here. Sorry, Melina. The one that was submitted online from someone participating through audio streaming, and the question goes, is it acceptable to recommend a solution that doesn''t exactly comply with off standards but which is far less costly and would result in greater access than currently exist.
This is Hecker. I say no.
This is Derry. I say it depends but usually no.
This is Randy, and this is why this whole process is difficult because I would probably say yes given that if I look at the ADAAG, it explicitly says that I can offer a solution that diverges from the--from the standard to the extent that it offers greater accessibility.
And that''s fine. As long as you''re willing to take responsibility for that recommendation as I do.
I do it everyday, I agree with you, but I''m just saying there''s a certain amount of liability and responsibility in that interpretation.
Absolutely true. And I think if you''re going to do that, you absolutely have to point to that--that part of the ADAAG and say that that is the basis for why this recommendation is being made. Yeah.
We--This is Mark. We hang our hats on that on equivalent facilitation, on looking at the rule making and harmonization process so that we can use ranges where we didn''t have them before. I mean the 18-inch center line of a toilet never worked. And so you have to look at the thing as you''re making the recommendations, I think.
This is Bill Hecker. I would also challenge you not to be pressured by your clients who may have people on their staff who are saying we want to do it the cheapest, cheapest, cheapest way and stick to your guns if that cheap way is not the right way. And you cannot justify an equivalent facilitation analysis of whatever they''re proposing. Just tell them it''s not the right way. And if they do, that''s their deal.
I have a staff member that starts my car in the morning. [ Laughter ]
Okay, let''s get on to our next question, Peter.
Melina, do we have our next question from a participant?
I have a question.
Yes, thank you. In addition to the ADA facility guidelines, what would you gentlemen consider the additional components to asses a new amusement park?
Well, that''s really a discussion we''re going to have a lot more the next time. But for the folks who may want to comment and let go ahead.
This is Bill Hecker. There are proposed guidelines of course are [inaudible] or may not know that there are proposed guideline for amusement park and recreation rise. And I would use those as best practices approach in the same way that Randy Dipner discussed earlier for barriers that have not been enumerated in specific ADA standards yet, take the best practice as approach and use as your guide the idea that you want to ensure the greatest accessibility that you can.
This is Mark. Bill, that''s real similar to the safe harbor question.
What''s going to be your safe harbor? You need to be able to point at something so that you can say to somebody and answer to them that you didn''t make this step up.
Right. That somebody is almost always adjudge.
Randy, any thoughts?
I just echo exactly what everyone said. It is--it''s use the stuff that''s out there as best you can and again, document it. I mean if I''m--I''m thinking now in terms of being the owner of this amusement ride. And if I''m using best practices, I need to make--put a report somewhere in my records that this is what I''m doing and it''s why I''m doing it. That way, if somebody asked the question, you can say, this is why I did it.
Right. So then in year 2010 when these--some of these features were just recommendations and not enforceable, when 2020 comes along and people want to know why it doesn''t meet the standards at that time, there is some sort of record.
Well, let''s also--this is Randy. Again, let''s also recognize that''s a point well taken and hopefully between 2010 and 2020, we''ve actually continued in our accessibility program so that we are from year to year reexamining things and has better standards are--are put forward that we--we look at those and see if maybe we need to make an additional adjustment.
Yeah. And normally speaking, when those standards come out, they only apply to new constructional alteration. But during an alteration, it would be the best time to take advantage of that.
But you''ll also--this is Mark--have people asking you about stuff that doesn''t exist yet. We work with medical care facilities a lot. Right now geriatric issues are coming up all over the place and the services are being offered in more facilities, they want to know how to make them accessible, there''s nothing there. And so we''re working right now and trying to get best practices, collect white papers, get all the information we can get so that we can get good advice and be an authority on that subject that there isn''t anything for. You can call the access board, they say, "We''re not doing anything with that--[inaudible] today."
Okay, Peter. Melina, next question please.
Our next question comes from
Yes, I''m wondering if there are any guidelines for floor slippage, and if so, if there are any tools that would be able to assess that.
Could you restate your question? Some sound--there''s a lot of noise at the first part of your question.
Yeah, I''m wondering if there are guidelines for floor slippage, and if there are any tools that would assess that issue.
You mean the stable, firm, slip-resistant feature.
Are there are any guidelines for that? Is that your question?
Yes. And if so--
Well, what tool to use to measure it? Unfortunately in the field, a lot of times, it''s our right foot that could estimate. Bill?
Yeah, this is Bill Hecker. I''ll tell you again, the current ADA standard section of the appendix section A 4.5.1, they do offer some guidance on the coefficient of friction via dynamic or static coefficient of friction and numbers that our own recommendations that fall within these best practices analysis that are applicable for those areas of an accessible route that are not sloped and those that are sloped. And they''ve got a coefficient of friction of 0.5 with the non-sloped areas then--oh excuse me, 0.6 for accessible routes and 0.8 per ramps.
And what is the measurement tool you use to figure that out?
There is a particular very expensive device [laughter] that--I can''t remember the name of it, but it has a scientific testing device name and you set it down on the surface and you go through a process and it will kick out a number for you.
Point being none of use that. [ Laughter]
Yeah, I don''t do that very often.
Randy, do you do that?
This is Randy. No, we don''t do that. And actually, this did come up during the rewrite of the ADAAG and there was a special interest group. They came and gave public testimony relative to this and were very hopeful that we weren''t going to specify something very explicit in the ADAAG that would essentially outlaw certain kinds of floor wax. The--so right now, it''s pretty much a qualitative assessment.
And so Mark''s comment flippant though it may have been right foot doesn''t work is sort of big--what may be used. Another feature that when you look at a stable, firm slip-resistant is what is the--you know, if it''s an area that''s going to be wet, you really want to have to pay a little bit more attention to what that coefficient of friction might be under those circumstances, like in a shower. Mark Derry Yes. Yup.
I just want to point is that we get calls not often but fairly often on this issue of floor mats and things like that, so it''s not just the floor itself. Sometimes that the--you know the things you placed on the floor and--
Oh, good one. Let''s make a call on floor mats on this call.
Okay. [ Laughter ]
What''s an accessible floor mat? I mean I do the toe drag test. I drag a toe over a corner of the mat and see if it lifts. If it does, it fails. If it doesn''t, then it''s down. But I''ve never seen a mat attached usually and that''s what''s called for. How do you guys survey?
You''re asking me?
This is Bill Hecker. This is Bill Hecker. I''ll tell you that I do the same thing with the toe drag strategy. And there are fixed mats, but they''re--they''re usually reserved for very, very expensive buildings.
Well yeah. In the foyer of a hospital, we have those all the time. But I''m talking about how do we survey the loose ones?
I don''t know.
Okay. So the toe drag, I don''t feel bad now. That''s an accepted--that a new standard, let''s call a judge.
No. [ Laughter ]
Let''s--let''s take our next question.
Sorry I brought that up.
Before we get dragged into more conversation.
Our next question comes from].
Alright, are you there?
Go ahead, what''s your question?
The question is how do you get the credentials to do audits and where would you start to get the training of it?
Well this is--this is Randy Dipner, and to be honest, there really aren''t very many, you know, if you will, official accreditation. And that really is kind of a state by state answer because if you go to Texas where they actually require that any new plan go through an accreditation process, they also have a standard setting accreditation group that says you are or are not accredited to do accessibility audits. But that''s certainly the--more of the exception than the rule.
The other thing you can do is go on to iccsafe.org, iccsafe.org, and you can follow the links to take a course and an examination to become certified accessibility specialists under building code. Now, this is not ADA, Department of Justice frowns on certification under ADA. And then to shamelessly plug myself, go to adaderry.com. We offer national trainings on surveying.
As do all of us. [ Laughter ]
Fine. [ Laughter ]
I just want to point out one thing. There''s a--there are already some states. I know California, you know, requires that. I believe they do anyway, so many hours. That doesn''t make you a survey expert. But for architects anyway, I think it''s required, isn''t it, in some states?
Yeah, in California they have something called the CASp, CATC program. And then it basically is intended to minimize litigation travail.
And if you have had your facility certified by this CATC surveyor, then you can petition the court not to pursue litigation for a certain period of time. But, well, if you''re going to start a new career as an accessibility surveyor, you''re kind of out there on your own and your credentials are as good as your ability to communicate your authority on the standards and on accessibility.
That''s exactly right.
And Don, another question that was submitted electronically. Well, questioner wants to know any building built prior to the ADA that has one men''s and women''s washroom per floor in a multilevel building through a general rule as to how many of those bathroom facilities should be brought up to compliance.
Randy, why don''t you start that?
After all, I am the expert on toilet reports, right?
As you just said--
Yeah. [ Laughter ]
In the long run, it would be nice if we made all of them accessible, but it''s certainly not required by the law. So it''s--I think it''s again, all of these things depend on the situation and I think I''d want to look at the building and to what extent all of the multiple floors are accessible or can be accessed by an accessible means, namely an elevator. And I would probably do a little picking and choosing. If it was strictly a stairway based facility, I''d probably pick those that were on the first floor, and I might even go to having a common use if there''s a way to make a, you know, only one of the facilities accessible and make it a, if you will, a family restroom, that type of a restroom. There''s a variety of ways to approach this.
Yeah, this is Bill Hecker. I''ll also kick in to say a lot of it depends on nature of the facility. Courts are beginning to frown on the idea that barrier removal started yesterday. Barrier removal duty started back in January of 1992 and to assume that you may get the same sort of reception in a federal district court if it is alleged that you did not comply with the barrier removal provisions today as you would have in 1992 may not be very wise. So, it''s more than likely that you need to begin a process of upgrading all of your bathrooms. But you cannot say building specific and entity-specific duty. If it''s a state or local government building, there''s a programming accessibility component that comes in totally different--the readily achievable barrier removal process that we would normally use for privately owned business.
And this is Randy Dipner again. One other thing that often happens, people will say I''ve got a two-story and there are bathrooms on the second story of this building and I don''t have an elevator. Why in the heck should I make them accessible? And what I like to point out is not everybody with a disability is a wheelchair user. We have lots of people that have disabilities that go up and downstairs all the time and as population ages, the installation of higher toilets and toilets that have grab bars are a really useful thing for not just people with disabilities but a large segment of the population that do not have disabilities.
Mark, any other comments?
That was a good one.
Let me go--let me--if we have time for at least one more question.
Our next question comes from I''d like to question on something on Davy Jackson
Okay, we have one of our participants that has a question here.
Hi, my name is Dean Aoki calling from Hawaii. And I have a three-part question and just a comment on tools. We found having sanitary wipes and a small hand broom is--can be good also when we''re doing surveys. [ Laughter ]
Hand sanitizers, awesome to have with you.
Especially in the bathroom.
Especially in the toilets and hospitals, yeah.
But thank you for that reminder or I have.
And folks could--this is Peter. Folks remember to identify themselves for the captioning, I appreciate it.
And the--the questions that I do have regarding dimensional tolerance is allowed under ADAAG 3.2. I know under observations and I appreciate the fact that you separate observations from recommendations. Oh, as you make the observations, how do you start recommending and what kind of construction tolerances do you allow or consider when making the recommendations, especially between when you''re dealing with existing facilities and alterations, things like slopes, to routes, plumbing fixture locations, you know, what is a safe harbor that you can point to for these tolerances? And then also, when measuring slope, the levels I heard a mention of a 24-inch level but is it--do you suggest using the 24-inch level or just the 6-inch smart level portion alone? Thank you.
This is Bill Hecker. I''ll take Vince''s comment real quick. At least to begin and Dean happens to be sitting probably not too far from where I am because I''m calling in from Hawaii today as well. On the issue of dimensional tolerances, the ADA standards 3.2 reads all dimensions are subject to conventional building industry tolerances for "field conditions." That is going to be and has been the subject of many days of litigation on ADA lawsuits for many years and will continue to be. I can tell you that there is but one truly authoritative source that I found for dimensional tolerances and that is a book called the "Handbook of Construction Tolerances" by David Ballast. I prefer the second edition that came out in 2007 because I peer reviewed the document for the publisher and I found it to be exceptionally beneficial when putting together defense positions on accessibility allegations and I''ll--I''m not going into details ''cause every aspect of the accessibility revisions and the standards might have some aspect of dimensional tolerance that would apply. We don''t have time for that. But I would recommend to you the "Handbook of Construction Tolerances." On the slope issue particularly with regards to the measurements, methodology, I utilize the 24-inch or roughly 24-inch long digital smart tool but has yet--is easier to demonstrate to a judge or a jury that my measurements are tracking the wheelbase of--or as close as can be by industry-available tools. The wheelbase of a standard manual wheelchair, a 24-inch tool put down across a sidewalk to measure cross slope will give as close as I can get to the type of situation that an actual wheelchair user will face at that portion of the sidewalk and that''s the justification I''ve used previously on litigation to say why I would use a 24-inch smart tool other than, say a 48-inch one.
And if you use a small level, it''s going to be different if you''re doing pavers or some little brim in the surface, it''s going to be different every time you lay it down 2-foot will bridge minor blimps in the surface.
Right Mark. I''ll tell you the--the time that I used my module, Dean, is when I am evaluating the counter slope of a gutter or not be wide enough to fit the tube with level and that''s typically where I--and I travel with the module but I only use it where the 2-foot level will not--won''t fit.
This, Randy and I--one thing I''d add on the tolerances area. I''m less tolerant if the measurement has a range. For example, in the case of the mounting height of a grab bar where you''ve got a range of inches that it can be mounted. And if somebody goes outside of that range by a quarter inch, I''m a lot less tolerant of that than I am of someone as much as an inch off on the centerline of the toilet because that''s an absolute measurement. And not to say that I would have said that an inch is okay but the fact is that if you can''t get a grab bar some place within a 3-inch range, you''ve done a petty bad job of building.
And you always--this is Mark. You always document what it is. Just because it''s a quarter off, you don''t--not document it. You write it up as a quarter off and then it''s a later decision process as to what you''re going to do about it but you don''t give anybody a quarter inch.
Yeah, this Bill Hecker. I would reiterate that, the tolerances are tools for a defense attorney.
And an expert within the context of defending allegation of noncompliance is not something that I identify in a report as a plaintiff''s expert. I don''t discount the list of violations when I am developing the plaintiff''s report of violation because that is not my job to do the defense expert''s job and don''t know about construction tolerances. That''s their loss.
And this is Don. As to finalize our discussion, ''cause we''re running out of time. And the Department of Justice tends to use about a quarter inch variability whenever they come out and they do assessments. So if you''re off by a quarter of an--more than a quarter of an inch, then that''s how they identify as being noncompliant or not. And so with that, let me kick it back to Peter to wrap us up and we''ll see you--
And I--And I want to thank you Don for a great job of facilitating our panel of experts and want to thank our panelist that joined us today, Bill Hecker, Randy Dipner, Mark Derry and Barney Fleming. For those of you who did not have a chance to ask your question, you may contact the ADA Center that serves your state by calling 1-800-949-4232 or visit www.adahea.org to locate your ADA Center. Part two of Conducting Effectible Accessibility Surveys will take place on April 20th, next month to get additional information on how to register for that session. You can get that at the ADA audio conference website www.ada-audio.org or by calling 1-877-232-1990. A reminder, that the audio archive as well as the text transcript from today''s session will be made available in two to three weeks on the ADA audio conference website. And for those of you registered to participate in today''s session, you will be receiving by email a copy of the PowerPoint presentation. So, thanks to all of you for joining us today. Hope to see you all back in April and everyone have a great day.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today''s conference. This concludes the conference. You may now disconnect.