The Federal “Barrier Removal” Mandate
Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction
Section 101.2 of the Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction addresses the effect of the Code on removal of barriers in existing buildings. Federal law and regulations mandate “Barrier Removal,” Florida law and the Florida Accessibility Code do not. The Florida Accessibility Code is invoked for “Barrier Removal” only when alterations are made to a facility to comply with the federal mandate either voluntarily or as directed by a federal enforcement action (28 C.F.R. 36 Subpart E). The effect of the Florida Accessibility Code is to apply Florida accessibility criteria to barrier removal measures employed to comply with the federal mandate.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) regulation 28 C.F.R. s. 36.304 for “Barrier Removal” implements the federal law mandate by requiring public accommodations to remove architectural barriers in existing facilities that are structural in nature, where removal is “readily achievable.” The mandate applies to all existing facilities including those not undergoing an alteration for some purpose. The DOJ regulation establishes guidance on “readily achievable” measures and requires compliance with the alterations requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards). It also provides exceptions to application of the ADA Standards to better match the “readily achievable” standard for “Barrier Removal.”
Section 553.508, Florida Statutes, requires removal of architectural barriers conducted pursuant to the DOJ regulation to comply with the alterations requirements of the Florida Accessibility Code, “...unless compliance would render the removal not readily achievable.” The law both defers to the DOJ regulation to require “Barrier Removal” in existing facilities and maintains the federal “readily achievable” standard for alterations undertaken to comply with “Barrier Removal.” The DOJ regulation exceptions for application of the ADA Standards to barrier removal measures are incorporated in section 202.6.1 of the Florida Accessibility Code so the Code approach to “readily achievable” is consistent with the DOJ regulation. These Code exceptions apply only to alterations undertaken to remove architectural barriers pursuant to the DOJ regulation.