FILING A COMPLAINT... IT'S YOUR RIGHT! THE ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS ACT and other access laws U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board 1331 F Street, NW Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20004-1111 Tel #: (202) 272-5434 IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO USE A BUILDING BECAUSE THERE ARE: * no accessible parking spaces, * no curb ramps, * no ramps at the entrance, * no accessible rest rooms, * no accessible drinking fountains, * no raised lettering on signs, or other barriers, and you think the building may have been built or altered with Federal funds or leased for occupancy by a Federal agency, then it's your right to file a complaint with the Access Board. Various Federal accessibility laws apply to buildings and facilities. This pamphlet describes: *the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-480) and how the Federal agency that enforces it, the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board), handles Architectural Barriers Act complaints. It outlines: * Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112); and * the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), and how these two laws differ from the Architectural Barriers Act. Also, it mentions two other Federal laws -- the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-430) and the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-435). THE ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS ACT WHAT IS IT? The Architectural Barriers Act requires that buildings and facilities be accessible if, since 1968, they were: * designed, built, or altered with certain Federal funds, or * leased for occupancy by Federal agencies. For example, a building covered by the act has only steps at its entrance. Thus it cannot be used by a person in a wheelchair. To comply with the act, the entrance must be physically altered to provide access. WHAT DOES IT REQUIRE? The Architectural Barriers Act requires that buildings and facilities covered by the law meet standards for accessibility issued by four Federal agencies. These agencies are the General Services Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Postal Service. WHAT ARE ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS? Accessibility standards cover such things as: walks, ramps, curb ramps, entrances, elevators, and rest rooms. They indicate how many of a certain item, such as accessible parking spaces, are required, where they must be located, and how they must be built or installed so they can be used by everyone. Before 1984, the four agencies setting the standards had different accessibility requirements. However, in August 1984, these agencies jointly issued the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). So, now there is only one Federal standard, UFAS. WHO ENFORCES IT? The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an independent Federal agency, enforces the Architectural Barriers Act. HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT? Architectural Barriers Act complaints must be in writing. Complainants' names are not revealed without their written permission. Complaints should include specific information about the type and location of barriers. Complaints may be sent in the form of a letter or using the complaint form at the back of this pamphlet. To begin an investigation, the Access Board needs: * a precise description of each barrier, and * the name and location of the building or facility where the barrier is. If known, the complaint also should include information on: * the owner of the building or facility, * any Federal funds used to build, alter, or lease the facility, * any Federal agencies occupying or managing the facility, and * the date the facility was built or altered. In addition, a sketch, drawing, map, or photograph of the barrier is very helpful. When the Access Board receives a complaint, it sends a letter to the complainant. This letter includes detailed information about the Board's complaint procedures and time frames. If the Board finds that a building or facility is covered by the act and does not meet accessibility standards, it tries to resolve the complaint. However, if a complaint cannot be resolved, the Board can take legal action to gain compliance. Architectural Barriers Act complaints should be sent to: The Access Board Office of Compliance and Enforcement 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000 Washington, D.C. 20004-1111 SECTION 504 WHAT IS IT? Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that are either conducted by Federal agencies or by nonfederal organizations that receive Federal funds. Further, under section 504, all new construction and newly-altered facilities must be accessible. Accessibility to programs or activities under section 504 can be achieved in a couple of ways. For example, a federally-funded program is held in an older building with a narrow entrance that has not been altered. A person who uses a wheelchair cannot participate in that program. Under section 504, the program could be made accessible by either: * relocating it to a nearby accessible facility, or * making physical changes to the building to make the activity accessible. WHO ENFORCES IT? Section 504, unlike the Architectural Barriers Act, is not enforced by just one agency. Instead, enforcement is the responsibility of each Federal agency providing funds. AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT WHAT IS IT? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government services, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. WHAT DOES IT COVER? The ADA is much broader than either the Architectural Barriers Act or section 504. Unlike these two earlier laws, the ADA does not require a link to Federal funds. Its coverage includes places such as: restaurants, hotels, theaters, shopping centers and malls, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, day care centers, buses, rail stations, and State and local government buildings. WHO ENFORCES IT? The ADA has four major titles that are enforced by one or more Federal agencies. Title I prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment. Complaints may be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Title II prohibits discrimination by State and local governments in their services, programs, or activities. It is enforced by the Department of Justice or its designated agencies. It also requires public transportation vehicles and facilities to be accessible. Transportation complaints may be filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation. It also requires that private transportation systems serving the public be accessible. The U.S. Department of Justice enforces this title. Title IV requires telephone companies to provide telecommunications relay services to allow persons with hearing and speech impairments to communicate over the phone. Complaints may be filed with the Federal Communications Commission. OTHER ACCESSIBILITY LAWS Other Federal accessibility laws include: * the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the sale, rental, or financing of housing. Also it provides for certain architectural accessibility requirements in new, multifamily housing. Complaints may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and * the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. It prohibits discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities when traveling by air. This act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A SUMMARY THE ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS ACT PURPOSE: To ensure that buildings or other facilities financed with certain Federal funds are accessible. SCOPE: Applies to certain buildings and facilities designed, built, or altered with Federal funds or leased for occupancy by a Federal agency. ENFORCEMENT AGENCY: The Access Board. SECTION 504 PURPOSE: To prohibit discrimination based on disability in federally-funded programs and activities. SCOPE: Applies to programs and services receiving Federal funds. ENFORCEMENT AGENCY: Federal agency providing funds. AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT PURPOSE: To prohibit discrimination based on disability in employment, State and local government services, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. SCOPE: Applies to private entities (not linked to Federal funds); covers private employers, State and local governments, public transportation, places of public accommodation, and telephone companies. ENFORCEMENT AGENCY: Title I - U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Title II - Department of Justice and Department of Transportation; Title III - Department of Justice; Title IV - Federal Communications Commission. ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS ACT COMPLAINT FORM To begin our investigation, we need the following information: Your name: Address: Daytime phone: If provided, this information is kept confidential. Precise description of each barrier: Building or facility: Address (or location): Phone number: The following information, if known, will help our investigation: Owner of the building or facility: Address: Phone number: Federal agencies occupying or managing the facility: Federal funds that may have been used to design, build, alter, or lease the facility: 7. Date(s) building or facility was built or altered: If possible, please include a sketch, drawing, map, or photograph of the barrier(s).