1 minute read

Disability Discrimination

Architectural Barriers Act

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 4151–4157) requires that federally owned, leased, or financed buildings be accessible to disabled persons. Originally enacted in 1968, this law requires each of four federal agencies—the DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, the GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, and the Postal Service—to promulgate design, construction, and alteration standards for buildings within its jurisdiction.

The coverage, and thus the effectiveness, of the ABA is limited. The act encompasses the subway system in Washington, D.C., as well as (1) structures that the federal government constructs or alters; (2) structures that the federal government leases; and (3) structures that depend on federal grants or loans for their design, construction, or alteration. If a federal agency is housed in a building that was constructed by the federal government prior to the ABA's original enactment date in 1968, and that building is not altered, it need not be accessible to disabled individuals under the ABA. Further, when structures covered by the ABA are altered, only the altered portion need be made accessible. Thus, an altered wing of a building may have elevators, wheelchair ramps, and accessible rest rooms, whereas stairs in front of the building's entrance render the building inaccessible to wheelchair users. Perhaps the most obvious shortcoming of the ABA's effectiveness is that it covers only buildings that are owned, leased, or financed by the U.S. government. Even after the ABA's enactment, individuals with disabilities remained challenged by the many inaccessible buildings not covered under it.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Directed Verdict to Do Not Attempt Resuscitation order (DNAR order)Disability Discrimination - Rehabilitation Act Of 1973, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, Architectural Barriers Act, Americans With Disabilities Act