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Woman transferring from wheelchair to exam table

 

     

Hospital Lawsuit

An ADA class action lawsuit against four major NYC hospitals (part of the Mt. Sinai Health System) was filed this summer alleging discrimination against patients with disabilities. The lawsuit details how inaccessible facilities and medical equipment as well as certain policies and procedures lead to substandard healthcare for people with physical or sensory disabilities.  Read the complaint.

 

 
           
Hollister retail entry - raised step      

Accessible Retail Entrances

The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled in an ADA class action suit that the elevated 'porch' entrance design of 231 Hollister stores discriminates against people with disabilities.  Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister must make all of these entrances accessible or close those entrances by 2015.  See the full decision here.

A similar suit is on appeal in Massachusetts for compliance with 521 CMR, the state's building code for accessible design and construction. 

 

 
           
Guide Dog in harness      

Revised Title II ADA Regulations

Effective March 15, 2011, the revised regulations include a new definition of a service animal:

".... any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition."

Review additional information regarding the new regulations pertaining to service animals.

 

 
           
       

FHA Plaintiff Receives Federal Grant

The Equal Rights Center (ERC), the civil rights advocacy group and plaintiff in numerous FHA/ADA suits against developers of multifamily housing, recently announced their receipt of a $275,000 Private Enforcement Grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Read the press release.

 

 
           
       

FHA: Examples of Adaptable Elements for Multi-Family Housing (*pdf document)

The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) Design Guidelines require most newly constructed residential units to be ‘adaptable.’  What does that mean? Read our recent Access Alert and download "FHA: Examples of Adaptable Elements for Multi-Family Housing."

 

 
           
TFM logo      

ADA Compliance in Difficult Times

The economy may be down, but enforcement of the ADA continues in many business and institutional sectors.  There are five actions that property owners and managers can take that cost very little, improve accessibility, and mitigate against risk of complaint or litigation.  Read more in a recent article (*pdf) in Today’s Facility Manager by Katherine McGuinness, Principal of Kessler McGuinness & Associates, LLC. 

 

 
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FHA logo      

Major Fair Housing Act Settlement Establishes Construction Tolerances

Trammel Crow Residential Development and Archstone Smith Trust have signed  important Fair Housing Act settlement agreements with The Equal Rights Center (ERC) of Washington DC.  Both settlements include "remediation tolerances" that allow certain existing conditions which exceed FHA design requirements to remain.  These tolerances have been agreed upon by the ERC and the developer/defendants, but they do not represent an enforceable national standard.  For example:  

To view the Appendix to the ERC v Trammell Crow settlement listing the agreed upon tolerances, click here (*pdf).

 

 
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Midtown Skyline      

Update: US DoJ ADA Hotel Investigations

US DoJ investigations of New York City Hotels have been continuing at a steady pace through the latter part of 2008 and into 2009. 

The US DoJ has announced settlements with the following hotels:

  • Park Central Hotel
  • Muse Hotel
  • Mariott Marquis Hotel
  • Salisbury Hotel
  • DaVinci Hotel
  • Paramount Hotel
  • Hilton New York and Towers
  • Doubletree Guest Suites
  • Sheraton Manhattan Hotel
  • Flatotel International Hotel,
  • Courtyard by Marriott, Times Sq.
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel

A sample of a recent settlement can be viewed here (*pdf, 37 KB).

 
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stressed man      

Common ADA and FHA Accessible Design and Construction Errors

You paid your architect. You paid your contractor.

But is the project ADA compliant?

Learn to avoid common ADA and FHA accessible design and construction errors.

 

 
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court columns      

ADA Amendments Act Signed into Law
President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act into law yesterday.  Supported by a broad coalition of advocacy and employer organizations, the amendments disavow U.S. Supreme Court decisions that define ‘covered disabilities’ more narrowly than Congress had intended when first passing the ADA in 1990.

These amendments do not affect design and construction standards under the ADA, and are unrelated to the U.S. Department of Justice’s administrative process of adopting the 2004 ABA/ADA Accessibility Guidelines, known to most architects as ‘the new ADAAG.’ 

Please donwload this excellent summary (*pdf) by Seyfarth Shaw, LLP.

 

 
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high school      

Common Access Errors in School Design & Construction
You can avoid common accessible design and construction errors. Be sure to review plans for the access elements listed in our recent Access Alert. (521 CMR is cited when it is more stringent than ADAAG.)  Click here to download a pdf of our recent Boston Society of Architects presentation on Common Access Errors in School Design and Construction.

 

 
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newspapers   New York Times  

U.S. Says Many Apartments Violate Law on Disabled
The U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a Fair Housing Act lawsuit against AvalonBay Communities and its architects for a new multi-family housing development in NYC.  This is an important test case addressing whether compliance with a local accessibility code that is not recognized as a “safe harbor” by the HUD is compliant with the FHA’s requirement to design and construct accessible facilities.

 

 
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Banker & Tradesman   Unusual ADA Requirements  

"The Americans with Disabilities Act has different requirements for government facilities and buildings owned by private entities. Most architects know the accessible design standard for privately-owned buildings, but are not aware that there are different standrads for government facilities." 

In the Banker & Tradesman's April 28th Commercial Real Estate Monthly Section Katherine McGuinness' article Government Facilities Affected By Unusual ADA Requirements clarifies some common issues. If you would like to read Katie's article please download the article .pdf here.


 
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Multi-Housing News   Ensuring Accessibility  

Multi-Housing News published an article by David Kessler: Ensuring Accessibility: Multifamily Housing Developers Learn from FHA Litigation. It addresses several common design and construction mistakes seen in multi-housing developments. You are welcome to read and forward this article.

 

 
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    New York Times  

Here is a link to a recent New York Times article. Food critic Frank Bruni discovered that accessibility and hospitality are not always synonymous, and that access is more than a ramp and a bathroom with grab bars. His experiences are well-articulated.

 

 
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CAAC report cover   Courthouse Access Advisory Committee Update  

The Courthouse Access Advisory Committee issued its final report and recommendations – Justice For All: Designing Accessible Courthouses. Katherine McGuinness served as an active participant on this committee which met quarterly for two years (and has the plaque and mug to prove it!). The report includes recommendations for:

  • Design solutions to meet minimum ABAAG and ADAAG standards
  • Best practices for accessible courthouses
  • Outreach and educational strategies for disseminating this information

You can find the report, free, at the Access Board’s website. Committee Members visited many courthouses nationwide, among them the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, MA. The recent renovations to this courthouse (CBT Architects, Inc.) demonstrated many of the report’s best practices for accessible design.

 

 
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visual paging display   Equal Access to Information - Presentation  

David Kessler was a speaker at the Universal Access in Travel Symposium sponsored by the American Association of Airport Executives and the Federal Aviation Administration. Equal Access to Information – DCARA vs. the City of San Francisco addresses the implications for other airports of the settlement agreement between Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency and San Francisco International Airport. The settlement includes SFO providing an additional 80 flat screen monitors, and including all types of PA announcements in a visual format. KMA was selected by both the plaintiffs and the defendant to serve as the "neutral consultant" to conduct fact finding and make recommendations to resolve the litigation. View the presentation “Equal Access to Information” (in pdf format - rotate clockwise using the icon on your toolbar for easier viewing).

 

 
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Kessler McGuinness & Associates  • 1121 Washington Street  • Newton • MA 02465
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