Category Archives: Accessibility Compliance

Real Estate Due Diligence: Three Tiers of Accessibility Reports

Real Estate Due Diligence: Three Tiers of ADA Accessibility Reports 

How do Accessibility Due Diligence Concerns Come into Play During Real Estate Transactions or Development?

  1. During any commercial real estate transaction, an ADA Survey (including all applicable accessibility laws) should be part of the Due Diligence process.
  2. All new buildings that are commercial facilities or places of public accommodation, must be designed and constructed with accessibility features that are compliant with current federal and local accessibility codes.
  3. All new alterations to buildings that are commercial facilities or places of public accommodation, must be designed and constructed with accessibility features that are compliant with current federal and local accessibility codes.
  4. The property owner, lease holder and lender may all be held liable if the property does not have proper accessibility features.
  5. The project should be reviewed for all applicable Accessibility Laws.
  6. Occasionally, more than one Accessibility Code or Law will apply.
    1. There might be Federal, State and Local Codes that apply.
    2. Some states (2012 Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction) Code for have their own Accessibility Codes in addition to National Accessibility Laws, such as the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, ABA, or Fair Housing Act.
    3. Which specific Accessibility Laws and Codes apply to an individual facility, is based on which entity owns the facility; who is providing design and construction funds; and who is managing the programs and services.
      • Federal facility ownership, funding or services
      • State or Local facility government ownership, programs or services.
      • Private facility, programs or services
      • When more than one Code or Law applies, then the Accessibility Due Diligence Report needs to look at EACH element, based on each applicable Accessibility Code, and assure that the strictest code for each individual element is met.

What do You Need to Know when Requesting an Accessibility Inspection or an ADA Survey?

  1. The Department of Justice does not certify or recognize certification of ADA Inspectors.
    • ADA Inspection is a non-regulated profession, comprised with a variety of experts, who specialize in different building types, program types and levels of involvement.
    • It is advisable to select an ADA Inspector is familiar with your type of facility, all levels of Accessibility Laws, and the level of in-depth report you require.
  2. The Department of Justice recommends their top 4 priorities for Title III (places of public access) regulations:
    1. Priority 1: Accessible approach and entrance
      • Includes site access, parking, accessible paths throughout the property or facility, and entrances
    2. Priority 2: Access to goods and services
      • Assures that all goods and services are available to all consumers. Includes signage, counter tops, public phones, pools, exercise rooms, braille and auditory signals and other accessible features.
    3. Priority 3: Access to restrooms and drinking fountains
    4. Priority 4: Any other measure necessary

ADA Inspection or Accessibility Survey that is Not Part of the Property Condition Report

  1. Accessibility Surveys and ADA Inspections often are completely separate from the Property Condition Report.
    1. The same general principles apply.
    2. Lenders often request a Tier 1 or Tier II ADA Survey.
    3. Property investors request the Tier III Accessibility Survey, since they will be responsible for all alterations that need to be brought up to ADA compliance.
      1. The investor has the most exposure to accessibility liability, so it is advisable to have the most detailed and accurate account of accessibility features within the facility or property.
      2. Some investors request a detailed report with both the current Accessibility Standards, as well as the items that are “Safe Harbor,” so that they have all of the information needed to make the best decision for their clients.
        • “Safe Harbor: Includes those items that met the 1991 ADA Standard, that do not need to be modified to meet the 2010 ADA Standard.

ADA Survey or Accessibility Inspection as Part of the Property Condition Report

  1. The Property Condition Report reviews the overall physical condition of a property, along with the long and short term capital expenditures required to maintain the property.
  2. The Property Condition Reports scope is defined by ASTM Standard E2018 “Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments: Baseline Property Condition Assessment Process.”
    • The appendix defines the levels of accessibility investigation.
    • The standard references the Americans with Disability Act as the governing document; however, ALL governing Accessibility Codes relevant to the property, must be reviewed.
  3. The ASTM appendix defines three tiers of due diligence.
  4. The depth of the Accessibility Inspection or ADA Survey is dictated by the Property Condition Report user.
  5. Often a Tier I ADA Survey or Accessibility Review is included as an addendum during the physical due diligence of an existing building by a contracted ADA and Accessibility Specialist or an Architect.
  6. Even though the ADAAG, ADA Accessibility Guide, is referenced in the “Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments: Baseline Property Condition Assessment Process;” the three tiers of accessibility investigation pertain regardless of the applicable codes.

Tier I Accessibility Survey is a Visual Assessment of the Facility for a Public Place of Accommodation

  1. Identifies the year the facility was built, the year alterations were made, and the specific ADA Standard that applies to those elements. 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
  2. MIGHT Identify Local and State Accessibility Codes that apply to the facility. Example: 2012 Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction
  3. Uses the ADA Standard relative to the time of construction or alteration.
    • Keep in mind that MANY ADA lawsuits are based on the Perception of today’s current standards missing in a facility.
  4. Identifies the path of travel for accessible approach and entrances per Standards.
  5. Identifies the reported number of ADA compliant parking spaces per total number of parking spaces.
    • Does not include photos, counting spaces, measuring sizes, measuring access aisles, measuring accessible path or measuring ground slopes.
    • Note: 2012 Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction has more extensive requirements than the 2010 ADA.
  6. Visual inspection of public restrooms that appear to provide accessible features, such as grab bars, turning-radius, toilet seat height, sinks, clearances, and horn/strobe fire alarm location.
    • Does not include photos or specific measurements of all elements.
  7. Determine if the reported number of Communication Feature and mobility Feature Guest Rooms exist per the ADA Standard requirements.
    • Review the guest rooms for appearance of accessible features.
    • Does not include photos or specific measurements of all elements.
    • Note: 2012 Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction has additional total guest room requirements than the 2010 ADA.
  8. Identify accessible elevator elements, including call buttons with visual signals, emergency control panels, interior floor buttons, a 2-way emergency communication that does not require voice, doors with a reopening device, and auditory signals at each floor.
    • Does not include photos and specific measurements of all elements.
  9. Tier I does not itemize every item in the facility that must meet Accessibility compliance.

Tier II Accessibility Survey is a Visual Assessment of a Facility that is a Public Place of Accommodation

  1. A more comprehensive Accessibility Survey that completes a checklist within the ASTM Standard.  The Accessibility Report often including photos, specific Codes and basic field measurements.
  2. The checklist includes basic measurements and counting of the parking spaces.
  3. Checklist items include parking spaces, ramp slopes and lengths, landings, handrails, stairs, doorways, entries, visual inspection of signage, visual inspection of path of travel, elevator controls and signals, restrooms and fixtures, accessible goods and services, and accessible guest rooms.

Tier III Accessibility Survey is a Comprehensive Assessment of a Facility that is a Public Place of Accommodation

  1. The most comprehensive Accessibility Survey that includes a more in depth investigation of the items in Title I and Title II.
    1. The Accessibility Report including photos, counting each accessible element, specific Codes and detailed field measurements.
    2. The report includes all elements that are in the ADAAG (ADA Accessibility Guide) and Local Codes.

Susan Berry of Disability Smart Solutions is available for any of your accessibility survey requirements.  As an architecture graduate, NCIDQ Nationally Certified Interior Designer, NCBDC Nationally Certified Building Designer, and an International Code Council Certified Accessibility Inspector and Plans Examiner, along with her 30+ years in the Florida construction industry, she knows accessibility.

Call or text anytime to 407-310-3663 or e-mail [email protected]



ADA Accessible Parking in Florida

ADA Accessible Parking in Florida

Florida takes accessible parking seriously! Does your parking lot meet all of the Standards to serve your guests with disabilities?

Just for today, instead of worrying about people with invisible disabilities parking in an accessible space, I would like all of us to make sure that our parking lots are truly ACCESSIBLE and meet the needs of the accessible community.

Florida goes beyond the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design to make accessible parking comfortable for a broad population. In order to assure that a van with a lift can fit in any accessible space, ALL accessible spaces are 12 feet wide with a 60-inch wide accessible aisle. Every day, I park in lots that do not have accessible aisles with each accessible parking spot.

Did you know that when you RESURFACE and/or repaint your parking lot, accessible parking spaces must be corrected to the current ADA Standard?


Did you know that a person parking in an accessible spot should always have a 44-inch wide minimum ACCESSIBLE ROUTE to the building entrance? A person parking in an accessible spot should never have to walk or roll behind cars, other than their own, to reach the building entrance. Even with new construction all over Central Florida, I see parking lots without safely accessible routes.

Did you know that any type of accessible vehicle may park in the spot designated as a “Van Accessible?” The “VAN ACCESSIBLE” sign spot is informational, but not exclusive to vans.

Do you know why the bottom of the Accessible parking SIGN needs to be 60 inches minimum above the ground surface? So a driver can see it! I often find signs buried in bushes, attached to palm trees and mounted on short posts.

Did you know that there is a 98″ minimum HEIGHT CLEARANCE requirement for Accessible parking in parking garages or areas where a vehicle must pass under an overhead obstruction? In my beach condo ADA inspections, I often find all of the accessible parking spaces are located in parking garages that do not meet clearance! Since all of Florida’s accessible parking spaces are sized for vans with lifts, the lower vertical clearance prevents many vans from using these spaces.


Are the “towing” and $250 FINE SIGNS serious? YES. Since 1996, all accessible spots must have the International Symbol, “PARKING BY DISABLED PERMIT ONLY” and the penalty for illegal use of the space.

Please take a few minutes to see if your parking lot meets the ADA needs of your disabled employees and guests. If it doesn’t, please take ACTION! If you need an ADA Compliance Report and Action Plan for your property, we are available for Florida and the Eastern USA.

Accessible Path Fail: ADA Design and Construction Bloopers

Access FAIL!  Accessible Parking, YES: Accessible Aisle, YES: Accessible Route, NO!!

As an ADA Inspector for architectural barriers, the new construction BLOOPERS never cease to amaze me! Here’s a new 12′ wide accessible parking space with the required access aisle, correct location, and correct signage; yet no ACCESS ROUTE to the Hotel SIDEWALK!

By ADA law, the disabled person parking here should be able to access the hotel entry without having to cross traffic or travel behind any other parked vehicles. Rolling out into the traffic lane, around the planter, and through the portico is not the solution! The ramp down to the driveway pavement is on the other side of the palm tree planter. SAFETY is a key component to the ADA Standard.

SOLUTION: At no additional cost, the sidewalk could have been designed to ramp down from both sides to a flat landing to meet the access aisle.

ADA Accessible car parking space with an access aisle leading to a curb ramp at the sidewalk
ADA Accessible car parking space with an access aisle leading to a curb ramp at the sidewalk

A curb stop to prevent parked cars from encroaching the sidewalk prevents cars from encroaching an accessible sidewalk are not required, however, they prevent cars from pulling forward and blocking the sidewalk.

If you have any ADA BLOOPERS, please share! For any ADA Access questions, feel free to call.  Susan’s cell, 407-310-3663

ADA Beach Pier, Can’t move the sand!

Beach Access Photo

Fishing piers must meet the 2010 ADA Standards and the 2012 Florida Accessibility Code for Building Design. Beach sand is not in the Codes.  Beach Sand is owned by the State of Florida.

Our condominium clients hired our Disability Smart Solutions team to provide a compliance inspection report as a basis for their compliance action plan.
We inspected for both the ADA and the 2012 Florida Standards for Accessible Design. This pier is one of the oldest remaining PRIVATE oceanfront piers.
This Condo Board is diligent in maintenance and wanting to meet or exceed ADA Standards.
If allowed, they would clear the sand off of the ramp as daily maintenance.
By beach laws (no specific reference), nature moves the sand and as a private entity,they may not move the sand.

The more ADA Site Inspections we perform, the more conflicts we witness between Codes.

Some of the Accessibility upgrades for this Fishing Pier include adding hand rails, adding an accessible bench and accessible adjustments to the gate latching system.
A new wheelchair accessible fishing spot is in the works for the center of the ocean end.
Any thoughts?