By Aisia Davis
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), cities must make sure all their programs and services are accessible to people with disabilities. That includes services offered by municipal liquor stores.
Recently, there has been an increase in ADA-related complaints concerning public property. Cities in Minnesota have been sued over accessibility issues—particularly those in municipal liquor store parking lots. The complaints typically allege that parking lots are not compliant with the latest accessibility standards, and that individuals are not able to access the services offered by the liquor store.
Although Minnesota cities have made great strides in this area and continue to do so, cities should evaluate compliance issues and work to address them by following the recommendations outlined here.
Identify barriers to programs and services and develop an achievable barrier removal plan by prioritizing projects.
As a starting point, consider first assessing barriers in parking that may affect access to the liquor store. For example, and as discussed in more detail later, assess the number, width, slope, and location of accessible parking spaces and whether the spaces meet accessibility standards.
Inside the store, consider evaluating aisle widths, service counter heights, and restroom accessibility.
Litigation of parking lot claims often assert that alleged ADA compliance issues prevent a disabled individual from accessing programs or services. One of the most common alleged violations is either a lack of access aisle or too narrow of an access aisle.
According to the Disability Parking Quick Reference Design Guide by the Minnesota Council on Disability, accessible parking spaces must:
You should ensure there is an accessible route through the store for a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, or walker. You’ll also want to verify that the height of the service counter is accessible. Accessibility standards generally provide:
If restrooms are available to the public, there should be an accessible route to the store’s restroom, which should be marked with proper signage. There are several components to assessing restroom accessibility. One recommendation is that the toilet room must have adequate space to allow a 5-foot diameter turning circle, so a wheelchair can turn 180 degrees.
For comprehensive information on restroom accessibility, see the Minnesota Council on Disability’s Accessible Toilet Rooms Quick Reference Guide, available at http://bit.ly/ADArestroom.
Consider restricting the restroom to employees only until any necessary updates can be made. But keep in mind that employment-related portions of the ADA also require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, which may include accessible restrooms.
Learn more about ADA accessibility standards at http://bit.ly/learnADA.
Aisia Davis is a research attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: email@example.com or (651) 281-1271.
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