Handicap Parking Laws for Churches

By Christopher Mahar
The ADA provides guidelines for handicap parking.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed by Congress in 1990 is a federal law that outlines, among other things, handicap parking regulations. Title III of the ADA covers public accommodations and services (including transportation) operated by private entities. It includes The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), which list the number of handicap spaces necessary for different sized lots and the measurements that handicap spaces must provide. Churches and religious organizations are exempt from Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they can be subject to state and community accessibility codes.

ADA Guidelines

Even though churches are exempt from the law, many choose to follow the ADA guidelines for accessibility. The ADAAG specifies that handicapped parking spaces should be 8 feet by 18 feet with a five-foot access aisle. The number of handicap spots to total parking spots should be at least as follows:

Total parking spaces (required minimum number of accessible spaces in parentheses): 1 to 25 (1); 26 to 50 (2); 51 to 75 (3); 76 to 100 (4); 101 to 150 (5); 151 to 200 (6); 201 to 300 (7); 301 to 400 (8); 401 to 500 (9); 501 to 1,000 (2 percent of the total); more than 1,000 (20 plus 1 for each 100 over 1,000).

Title III Exemption

While churches and entities controlled by religious organizations are exempt from requirements to be handicapped accessible, nonreligious entities that rent or are given permission to use church facilities to conduct their activities are subject to Title III.

National Organization on Disability

The National Organization on Disability started an initiative in 1988 called the Accessible Congregations Campaign, which encourages religious centers to become handicap accessible. As of 2007, more than 2,250 congregations were enrolled in the campaign. The members also distribute a Religion and Disability Program guidebook that provides information on guidelines for increasing access for the disabled.

About the Author

Christopher Mahar earned a bachelor's degree from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from NYU. His first job out of school was writing for "The Harlem Valley Times" in Dutchess County. Since then, Mahar has worked in public relations and as an adjunct professor in NYU's writing department.

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