202 Existing Buildings and Facilities
- Unless required by 202.4, where elements or spaces are altered and the circulation path to the altered element or space is not altered, an accessible route shall not be required.
- In alterations, where compliance with applicable requirements is technically infeasible, the alteration shall comply with the requirements to the maximum extent feasible.
- Residential dwelling units not required to be accessible in compliance with a standard issued pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, shall not be required to comply with 202.3.
Advisory 202.3 Alterations. Although covered entities are permitted to limit the scope of an alteration to individual elements, the alteration of multiple elements within a room or space may provide a cost-effective opportunity to make the entire room or space accessible. Any elements or spaces of the building or facility that are required to comply with these requirements must be made accessible within the scope of the alteration, to the maximum extent feasible. If providing accessibility in compliance with these requirements for people with one type of disability (e.g., people who use wheelchairs) is not feasible, accessibility must still be provided in compliance with the requirements for people with other types of disabilities (e.g., people who have hearing impairments or who have vision impairments) to the extent that such accessibility is feasible.
Advisory 202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas. An area of a building or facility containing a major activity for which the building or facility is intended is a primary function area. Department of Justice ADA regulations state, "Alterations made to provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area will be deemed disproportionate to the overall alteration when the cost exceeds 20% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area." (28 CFR 36.403 (f)(1)). See also Department of Transportation ADA regulations, which use similar concepts in the context of public sector transportation facilities (49 CFR 37.43 (e)(1)).
There can be multiple areas containing a primary function in a single building. Primary function areas are not limited to public use areas. For example, both a bank lobby and the bank's employee areas such as the teller areas and walk-in safe are primary function areas.
Also, mixed use facilities may include numerous primary function areas for each use. Areas containing a primary function do not include: mechanical rooms, boiler rooms, supply storage rooms, employee lounges or locker rooms, janitorial closets, entrances, corridors, or restrooms.
Advisory 202.5 Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities Exception. State Historic Preservation Officers are State appointed officials who carry out certain responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act. State Historic Preservation Officers consult with Federal and State agencies, local governments, and private entities on providing access and protecting significant elements of qualified historic buildings and facilities. There are exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings and facilities for accessible routes (206.2.1 Exception 1 and 206.2.3 Exception 7); entrances (206.4 Exception 2); and toilet facilities (213.2 Exception 2). When an entity believes that compliance with the requirements for any of these elements would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the entity should consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer. If the State Historic Preservation Officer agrees that compliance with the requirements for a specific element would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, use of the exception is permitted. Public entities have an additional obligation to achieve program accessibility under the Department of Justice ADA regulations. See 28 CFR 35.150. These regulations require public entities that operate historic preservation programs to give priority to methods that provide physical access to individuals with disabilities. If alterations to a qualified historic building or facility to achieve program accessibility would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, fundamentally alter the program, or result in undue financial or administrative burdens, the Department of Justice ADA regulations allow alternative methods to be used to achieve program accessibility. In the case of historic preservation programs, such as an historic house museum, alternative methods include using audio-visual materials to depict portions of the house that cannot otherwise be made accessible. In the case of other qualified historic properties, such as an historic government office building, alternative methods include relocating programs and services to accessible locations. The Department of Justice ADA regulations also allow public entities to use alternative methods when altering qualified historic buildings or facilities in the rare situations where the State Historic Preservation Officer determines that it is not feasible to provide physical access using the exceptions permitted in Section 202.5 without threatening or destroying the historic significance of the building or facility. See 28 CFR 35.151(d).
The AccessAbility Office at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provides a variety of resources for museum operators and historic properties including: the Design for Accessibility Guide and the Disability Symbols. Contact NEA about these and other resources at 202-682-5532 or www.arts.gov.