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I think the article makes a bit too much over the difference between ADA and the CA Building Code (CBC). There have always been conflicts, but on what I consider to be the major issues, they are reasonably in agreement. Also not mentioned here, is that ADA is a civil rights law and compliance is determined by the courts. The very similar accessibility requirements in the CBC are enforced administratively where ever the building code has effect.
The major issues in my view are those of building access (parking), entrances, use of the space and restrooms. Erick Mickiten, a fine architect in his own right, makes a good point regarding the reduction in barriers over the last 20 years. Architects in CA also face bi-annual education requirements to maintain their license which is specifically focused on building accessibility. So the profession is being attentive.
Where the code and the ADA has turned astray in my view, is that with each evolution of the code, the requirements incorporate more and more minutia that expands the complexity of the code and the difficulties of compliance with it, all the while returning only marginal benefits.
For example, there are many requirements having to do with improving access for those with vision impairments, including the use of a particular form of Braille, of a particular size on room signage. The problem is that while this seems like a great idea, only about 20% of the vision impaired population reads Braille, as it has fallen out of favor and most young visually impaired individuals do not learn it and rely instead of other technologies to manage the reading of text.
My last concern with all of this, is that the ADA, a well intentioned law if there ever was one, in addition to ballooning the regulation load on businesses and other entities, it also tends to expand the disabled population as well. We tend to think of the disabled as being wheelchair based individuals. In fact, though their accommodation certainly involves the greatest expense, they are a relatively small part of the disabled population. Vision impairments are home to a much, much larger group of people. But since ADA is adjudicated in the courts, the courts can and do expand and interpret its applicability to the point that all sorts of personal problems become defined as disabilities and, therefore, society's problems. That to me is unhealthy.
Still, this was an interesting article and I hope it generates a broader awareness and discussion of these important issues.
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