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Work facility access

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An important aspect of workplace accommodations is ensuring that the employee can get into and around the worksite. This entails making sure that the employee can operate and pass through doors; move around the building, including between different building levels; and access common areas such as restrooms, break rooms, and meeting areas.


The Americans with Disabilities Act

Title III (Public Accommodations) of the ADA sets out standards (ADA Standards for Accessible Design) and guidelines (ADA Accessibility Guidelines) for making facilities accessible. The standards lay out rules for providing a basic level of accessibility, particularly for people with mobility impairments. For example, the standards set rules for doorway width (so a wheelchair can pass through) and require that wheelchair-accessible restroom facilities be provided. However, this section of the ADA only covers "Public Accommodations," or places in which the public visits as customers. Examples include stores, restaurants, hotels, doctors' offices, exercise facilities, and movie theaters.

While many employees work in settings that are "Public Accommodations," it is the ADA's Title I (Employment) that mandates the provision of their work accommodations. Title I requires that employees be provided with accommodations that meet their specific needs. Specific facility or work tool requirements are not laid out. The accommodations are intended to be individualized.

What does this mean for employers who are making accommodations for employees? Quite simply, the ADA standards or guidelines do not need to be followed for a workplace accommodation. However, these standards and guidelines are often a good starting point for determining what might be needed. Some of the standards may not be needed at all by the employee. For example, an employee who is deaf will not need accommodations for wheelchair access, but would benefit from rules about fire alarms with visual alerts. In other cases, and particular requirement may need to be adjusted for optimum access. For example, an employee with restricted reach may require a door control to be positioned higher or lower than is outlined in the ADAAS.

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Moving around a facility

Moving between building levels