person in a wheelchair can’t shut
the door,” Meihls explains. “Door
closers often require more than 5
pounds of force to open, and the
last thing you need if you’re in
a hurry to get there is to be hindered by a door that’s too heavy
ADA MYTHS AND
These common pitfalls can
spell trouble for ADA compliance, not just in restrooms, but
in the rest of your facility. If any
of these sound familiar, you may
be at risk of additional complaints, lawsuits or fines.
No people with disabilities
use this space. Assumptions can
be your downfall even if your
restroom is literally on top of a
mountain, Meihls explains.
“There was a lawsuit in the
late 1990s involving a group
of about 10 people on the
Appalachian Trail,” says Meihls.
“This is a federally funded trail
and one of the people in the
group was in a wheelchair. They
were about 10,000 feet up and
everyone had to use the bathroom, and the only bathroom
was this toilet mounted on a
base that was just sitting out in
the open. Everyone could use it
except for the guy in the wheelchair, who then sued the federal
government over it.
“They came back and said,
‘Even if we’re installing toilets at
10,000 feet, we can’t assume that
a person in a wheelchair isn’t
going to make this climb’ because
he did,” Meihls adds. “If you service the public, no matter what
your business is, you have to
include people with disabilities.”
Spaces that are normally closed
to non-members, like churches,
can also run into trouble here,
Meihls adds. Places of worship
are only exempt from ADA if they
don’t allow non-members to use
the space. However, many have
spaces that can be rented out for
weddings, graduations and other
events. If any non-member is
allowed to use the space, even if
it’s only rented, the whole building must abide by ADA.
Meihls suggests consulting
the Department of Justice’s A
Primer for Small Business at
www.ada.gov to understand
some of the basics of accessibil-
common problem,” Meihls says.
Doors: Otherwise compliant
bathrooms will sometimes have
the door installed improperly so
that it swings into the bathroom
instead of outward, Meihls says.
“When you do that, you take
away the turning clearance so a
How to Pay for ADA Bathroom Improvements
There are two tax incentives that can help defray the cost of making businesses
accessible to people with disabilities.
Disabled Access Credit
What it is: 50% of expenditures between $250 and $10,250, with a maximum benefit of
$5,000. The credit amount is subtracted from your company’s total tax liability. This credit
is available every year.
Who can claim it: Businesses with up to $1 million in revenue or 30 or fewer full-time
Use it for: Printing materials in accessible formats, removal of barriers, purchasing adaptive
equipment or modifying existing equipment, interpreters and readers, consulting fees and
Barrier Removal Tax Deduction
What it is: Annual deduction of up to $15,000 for expenses incurred to remove physical,
structural and transportation barriers for people with disabilities in the workplace. The
amount spent is subtracted from your business’s income, lowering the amount of income
you’ll be taxed on.
Who can claim it: Any business.
Use it for: Removing existing architectural barriers by providing accessible alternatives,
such as parking spaces, ramps, curb cuts, phones, water fountains, restrooms and walkways. Not applicable to new construction, complete renovations or normal replacement of