The first rendition of the ADA laws past senate on September 7, 1989 and since then has been amended several times in order to reduce confusion and ensure that no groups are left out. Although there have been ADA laws for many years, never has the enforcement nor the criteria for these laws, been so strict. Businesses have to make a concerted and proactive effort in order to meet compliance. Full compliance with these ADA laws, can be a very difficult challenge. Not only are there more codes than one could possibly remember, but each facility will ofcourse be different in a variety of ways. Hence, figuring out how to begin the process of bringing buildings into compliance can be a daunting task that really demands the expertise and experience of an expert. Adding to the complexity of the ADA compliance picture, is the fact that there is not one, but two sets of regulations, State regulations and Federal regulations. As if this wasn’t confusing enough, the laws also get amended causing the codes and regulations to change.
No business owner is immune. No one is exempt! Even if one has never had a disabled person enter their facility, if they choose to ignore these ADA laws and assume that they can operate below the radar, they are wrong. There are very expensive and serious implications for property owners and those leasing properties that the public has access to. Adding insult to injury, most of the ADA lawsuits in San Diego and California aren’t even filed by disabled patrons, but are filed rather by individuals who have made a lucrative career of cruising along the California coast and local streets looking for stores, restaurants, hotels and office buildings that have one or more violations. Finding these violations is easy since they exist in abundance and are conspicuous to the “trained” eye even without having to enter the building. Even the signage outside the premises, if not correctly placed, or lacking information, can be enough to warrant a violation hence incite a suit. These individuals have received tremendous notoriety (or celebrity), depending on which side of the fence you are situated, due to the massive number of suits that they file. One of these career ADA “watchdogs” was discussed in an article that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on July 26, 2008. It was entitled, ‘There is no stopping him’. Since this article appeared, the attention paid to ADA compliance has continued to escalate. There are few business owners who have not been stung. Many now have taken the preventative action and have brought in an expert to identify items that are not compliant and put a plan of action in place for repair and remediation, so as to reduce their exposure.
While it might feel like unfair targeting to some of these property owners and businesses, one cannot lose sight of the fact that those with disabilities are entitled to enjoy the same access to all facilities that able bodied people have. To deny them this right is of course grossly unjust, discriminatory and of course, against the law. Disabled people are not going away and therefore nor are these laws and regulations.
A highly specialized San Diego local and his consultancy firm have set out to ensure that the needs and rights of both the disabled and property owners are recognized and addressed. They have set out to put California businesses in compliance, not only for lawsuit prevention, but also to ensure that the disabled are able to have the same level of access that everyone else has. ARCOR-Inc. is an Architectural and Construction Risk Assessment and Risk Profiling Company that was started by Forensic Architect, Steven Schraibman, about 16 years ago. Steven Schraibman is one of an extremely small group of professionals who hold a number of licenses including Architecture and Cost Estimating. The company provides highly specialized professional services in a wide range of areas including ADA Compliance, Value Engineering, Cost Estimating, Personal Injury, Construction defects, Construction Claims, Peer review, Due Diligence and Storm Water Mitigation. A multitude of highly specialized services are therefore housed under one roof which makes for an efficient, well-choreographed and integrated service. This also means that there is an ability to examine each project or problem through a number of specialized lenses in order to come up with the best possible solution.
ARCOR-Inc. has been instrumental in helping hundreds of companies reduce their risk and become compliant. These include fast food chains, hotels, educational and medical facilities, to name but a few. Schraibman says that he has seen ADA suits grow at an alarming rate over the past few years. According to him, there has been a greater enforcement of these laws on a government level. The biggest companies and even the mom and pop shops are under scrutiny. “Cities just aren’t letting businesses slip under the radar anymore, and the disabled aren’t keeping quite either,” says Mr. Schraibman. ARCOR-Inc. takes on cases that frequently require a level of insight and a unique perspective to reduce risk and exposure. ARCOR-Inc. has built its’ reputation on the incredible attention to detail that is paid to every project, great or small and is unique in that Steven Schraibman ensures that he plays an integral role in every project undertaken. It is a company that takes pride in the highly specialized services offered and the meaningful and effective role they are playing in the area of ADA Compliance.
Mr Schraibman is constantly asked the one important question,” Is there anything I can do to protect my place of business?” He says the answer is actually very simple. When planning a new construction of a public facility one should without question refer to an ADA professional about ADA accommodations. One cannot merely rely on the Architect or the contractor to ensure absolute compliance. There are just too many regulations and codes for them to possibly know, and that’s where one can get into trouble. This is a highly specialized area that demands a highly specialized professional. Mr. Schraibman also adds that both new and older properties are a target. Many buildings were obviously built when the codes weren’t around or perhaps their accommodations are out of date due to code changes and revisions. Mr. Schraibman and his team believe that there is no need for all these law suits. If facilities take a proactive approach to ADA, respect the rights of the disabled and ensure that they are up to code, issues like lawsuits and customer complaints will be a thing of the past.
Leron Schraibman (COO ARCOR-Inc)