There are two separate, distinct and independent Regulatory Agencies
in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in which compliance must be satisfied.
It is imperative that the reader understands and recognizes the difference
and legal impact of both these regulatory entities.
I. Architectural Access Board
The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, here forth refereed as
AAB, was established in 1983 and is now a part of the sixth edition of
the Massachusetts State Building Code. As a component of the building code,
it is enforced by local building departments and subsequently is a minimum
standard for compliance. Compliance is limited to Massachusetts.
Compliance with AAB regulations has these significative:
Buildings constructed prior to 1983 are not compelled to meet all the requirements
AAB requirements must be incorporated into all new modification or additions
to these existing facilities.
If modifications, renovations, repairs and/or alterations exceed 30% of
the appraised valve of the facility, then the facility will be required
to meet all current AAB standards (as well as all other building code
The AAB regulations are enforced by local building department and are minimum
standard for occupancy.
II. Americans with Disabilities Act
AAB regulations and standards have been designed to provide barrier free
accommodations primarily for individuals confined to wheelchairs. Unlike
the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the code has limited
requirements for other physical impairments and as very definitive standards
based essentially upon accessability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, henceforth referred to as ADA,
unlike AAB is not a code, but a Federal civil right law enacted to prohibit
discrimination upon the basis of disability. This law has three distinctive
civil rights components relative to discrimination. Public accommodations
are one of the three sections. It is this section, public accommodations,
that is the focus of this report and has the significant impact on this
In considering ADA and the civil rights objectives of this Act it is
important to be aware of the following:
SIGNIFICANT FACTS REGARDING ADA COMPLIANCE:
There are more than 600 legally federal defined " disabilities",
most of which are not typical physical impairments as generally understood
by the public. For example numerous metal disorders such as kleptomania
and schizophrenia, physical health conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes,
heart disorders, etc., as well as civil right disabilities such a aging,
sexual orientation and obesity. Besides disabilities that have been federally
defined, the Act further incorporates any and all perceived disabilities.
In addition the Act includes temporary or partial impairments
(blindness, deafness, etc.) as disabilities protected under this act.
The ADA regulations and standards are not definitive, but are established
to be used. Consequently, satisfying and complying with the established
standards does not in itself necessarily mean that compliance with
all interpretations the Act has been satisfied nor is it limited
to only the disabilities that have been federally recognized or defined.
As a federal law, it is not enforced through local regulatory agencies
such as building departments. Due to the broad intent of the act, enforcement
is through civil suit and litigation by any person or specific class of
persons that believe that they have been discriminated or denied equal
rights under the act.
SIGNIFICANT ISSUES RELATIVE TO YOUR FACILITY:
It is impossible to for any individual, professional or otherwise to assure
full compliance with all aspects of ADA to satisfy the vast needs or perceived
need of every potential individual.
The being no established limits for ADA compliance and there may be an
infinite number of areas in which satisfying the needs of one may become
the disadvantage of another. Suits can be brought on by anyone regardless
of the merit of the claim.
The best that can be achieved in for individuals, professionals, landlords,
organizations and agencies are to make a conscientious effort to comply
with the established guidelines and regulations.
SIGNIFICANT APPROACH RELATIVE TO YOUR FACILITY:
The minimum obligation for compliance with AAB code requirements are limited
to only the state requirements for providing basic access and accommodations
for buildings built prior to the inclusion of AAB regulations in the building
code. As you facility was built prior to these regulations the requirements
for compliance are less demanding.
At any time that the facility require new construction (Additions), such
additions will mandate full compliance for the new work.
Should additions, and/or renovations exceed 30% of the appraised value
of the facility, then the entire facility must be brought into compliance.
Any alteration of any component of a building must comply with AAB requirements
within the area of the alteration, regardless if other areas are not in
There is no immediate obligation for ADA compliance as enforcement is presented
based upon disability claims for an accommodation. However, not taking
an initiative to identify ADA issues or make an accommodation for individuals
that have presented a complaint or a known to need accommodations can be
the basis of claims of negligence.
This report will identify all areas in which ADA compliance has not
been satisfied based upon established ADA regulations.
This report will identify all known required AAB compliance areas.
This report will provide a list of AAB and ADA compliance needs in order
Due to the different Objectives of AAB and ADA there are instances of conflicting
regulation. Within this report and survey, when a conflict in regulation
occurs the more demanding of the two is presented. This is done so both
the AAB and ADA are satisfied.
St. Yarmouth Port, Ma 02675
385-5447 / fax (508) 385 8573
us at: [email protected]