In July of 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into the law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which guarantees equal accessibility to all public facilities and services for citizens with physical and mental disabilities. Since the ADA became law, public buildings and transit systems have become more accessible than ever for those with physical and mental limitations. Maintaining accessibility after it is provided is an important factor in the ADA regulations.
Public Parking Areas
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that businesses renovate existing buildings to make the physical structures accessible for patrons with physical and mental limitations, and new construction must provide access for patrons with disabilities. Parking is a major factor that must be maintained for accessibility, particularly when snowfall gathers in parking areas. When drivers with disabilities exit their vehicles, they may need extra space to enter or exit their vehicles, and snow piled up around parking spaces may make that an impossible task. The ADA mandates clearing snow and ice not only from the parking space, but from the area surrounding the parking space. Curb ramps and access aisles must be cleared completely.
Public Building Entrances
Like parking lots, snow and ice build-up around building entrances and exits may render some facilities inaccessible for individuals with disabilities. If a woman in a wheelchair is able to leave her vehicle and make her way to an entrance, but is unable to enter the door because of snow and ice build-up, she is no better off than if she could not exit her vehicle at all. Like parking lots, the ADA requires that snow and ice be completely removed from around entrances and exits to allow ready access for all patrons, regardless of physical limitations. Although temporary inaccessibility may occur because of weather, accessibility must be restored as soon as possible, and facilities must provide alternate access if weather obstacles cannot be cleared in a timely manner.
Private Parking and Facilities
The ADA provides for equal opportunities and accessibility for all citizens, but does not guarantee equal outcomes for everyone. The ADA does not require service provision for individuals with disabilities that aren't normally provided for the general population. A city's street department, for example, is not required to clear snow and ice from the driveways and sidewalks for homeowners with disabilities if the department doesn't provide the service for every resident of the city. Likewise, apartment and rental space managers are not required to clear snow and ice for tenants with disabilities if they don't provide the same service for tenants without physical and mental limitations.
Since 2008, Carlleen Bell has served as a staff writer, photographer and webmaster for the "Atlantic News Telegraph." She was also an editor for her collegiate newspaper and served as a staff writer for the "Jacksonville Journal-Courier." Bell has a Bachelor of Science in English literature and writing from MacMurray College.