Are ADA and TAS rigid? Do they require businesses to spend lots of money to make their existing facilities accessible?
The ADA and TAS guidelines are based on common sense. They recognize that altering existing structures is more costly than making new construction accessible. ADA requires that public accommodations (e.g. stores, banks, hotels, and restaurants) remove architectural barriers in existing facilities when it is "readily achievable", i.e., it can be done without much difficulty or expense." Inexpensive, easy steps to take include ramping one step; installing a bathroom grab bar; lowering a paper towel dispenser; rearranging furniture; installing offset hinges to widen a doorway; or painting new lines to create an accessible parking space. TAS only comes into play when construction is planned.
Does the government think everything is readily achievable?
Often it may not be readily achievable to remove a barrier ... especially in older structures. Let’s say a small business is located above ground. Installing an elevator would not, most likely, be readily achievable, and there may not be enough room to build a ramp or the business may not be profitable enough to build a ramp. In these circumstances, the ADA would allow a business to simply provide curbside service to persons with disabilities. Any altered element that can not be brought into full compliance must go through the variance process within the state of Texas.
Do barriers have to be removed overnight?
Businesses are only required to do what is readily achievable at that time unless major construction is being done. When construction is done, the elements that are part of the construction are brought into compliance as part of the construction project. If an alteration to a primary function is being done, the path of travel from parking to the altered area must also be brought into compliance.