Design Professionals

The Great Plains ADA Center provides information, training and technical support on ADA accessibility guidelines and standards to the design community.

Our staff receives updates and training from the U.S. Access Board, the agency that develops ADA accessibility standards, to ensure the information we provide is accurate and up to date. We have an established relationship with the Architects Institute of America (AIA) and the International Code Council (ICC) and have conducted trainings for their members. ​ADA Accessible Facilities Compliance

The ADA requires public and private entities to provide equal access to their goods, services, and activities. A major part of meeting this obligation is providing accessible facilities. When buildings, such as restaurants, shopping centers, medical clinics, schools, courthouses, etc. are inaccessible, they pose a major barrier to people with disabilities and severely limit equal access to participation in public life.

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

2010 Standards for Accessible Design were adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice on September 15, 2010. These standards went into effect on March 15th, 2012.

  • All new construction must adhere to these standards.
  • All renovations and alterations, regardless of when the building was originally built, must follow the same accessibility standards as new construction

The standards are developed by the U.S. Access Board.

20% Disproportionate Costs/Path of Travel Improvements

Anytime alterations are made to a building or facility where barriers still exist, 20 percent of the construction costs must be spent on barrier removal on the “path of travel”. For ADA purposes, the “path of travel” also includes restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains. Any alteration to a “primary function area” triggers the requirement. A “primary function area” is an area where the activities are germane to the building or facility.

Removing or correcting barriers can be simple and inexpensive in one facility, but difficult and costly in another. For this reason, the ADA sets out a flexible rule for removing barriers. When the cost of improvements made to the path of travel exceeds 20% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area, the ADA considers this ratio to be disproportionate, in which case the path of travel need only be made accessible to the extent necessary without having to incur the disproportionate cost.

Anytime alterations are made to a building or facility where ADA deficiencies at the path of travel still exist, up to 20 percent of the construction costs must be spent on barrier removal at the “path of travel”. For example: If the construction cost of alterations equals $100, then a maximum of $20 will need to be spent on barrier removal at the “path of travel”.

Existing Facilities

The ADA does not require existing buildings (built prior to 1991) to fully meet the ADA's standards for newly constructed facilities. However, facilities built prior to the passage of the ADA, still have an obligation to remove barriers when it is readily achievable to do so.Note: There is no "Grandfather Clause" in the ADA. All buildings, regardless of age, are required to remove whatever barriers that are considered "readily achievable".

Readily achievable means easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.

Many building features that are common in older facilities such as narrow doors, a step or a round door knob at an entrance door, or a crowded check-out or store aisle are barriers to access by people with disabilities. Because removing these and other common barriers can be simple and inexpensive in some cases and difficult and costly in others, the regulations for the ADA provide a flexible approach to compliance. This practical approach requires that barriers be removed in existing facilities only when it is readily achievable to do so.

Safe harbor

Elements that have not been altered in existing facilities on or after March 15, 2012, and that comply with the 1991 Standards or in the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), are not required to be modified in order to comply with the 2010 Standards.

The U.S. Access Board online guide to the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design: Chapters 1-4

The guide includes detailed color diagrams, examples, and answers to common questions at the end of each chapter.

A series of animations showing how people with disabilities use various elements such as bathrooms is also included.

Links to the Access Board's Guide to the 2010 Standards Chapters are provided below:

Chapter 1: Using the ADA Standards