The other week I was meeting with some horse friends who are in the business of wine making and have opened a small tasting room. They told me that it has been quite a bit of work making sure the tasting room is ADA compliant, and they pointed out the changes they had made, such as ramps and automatic doors, and appropriately marked signs that include the use of braille.
It made me wonder about whether riding stables: 1. must comply with ADA requirements and 2. if so, what stables can do to ensure compliance.
Allira approves of the stable's entrance ramp (though ADA compliance isn't typically required at private, non-commercial facilities)
Who is required to comply?
It depends on the use of the facility and the date of construction.
Most buildings oeprating for commercial purposes (providing goods or services to the public) are required to comply. This may include stables that offer lesson or training services to the public.
The ADA went into effect in 1992, so buildings constructed before 1993 are subject to some exceptions to compliance. However, according to the California Building code (check your state!) remodels in excess of $130,000 must meet current compliance standards; remodels of a value less than $130,000 must dedicate 20% of the remodel costs to improving ADA accessibility.
You are only required to comply with the requirements as of the date of your construction; you are not retroactively charged with noncompliance of new rules (subject to the remodeling and some feasibility exceptions).
Ensuring Compliance = Lawsuit Prevention
You can hire a Certified Access Specialist (CAS) to conduct an inspection of your building; the CAS will issue you a report to note any areas that need to be improved. Improvements are typically limited to those that are "readily achievable."
You can also check the ADA guidelines from its website; the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design list the requirements for each aspect of a building- you can search for your particular question or concern (i.e., ramps, signs, bathrooms, etc.).
Because public stables are likely within the category of "recreational use" commercial facilities, there are distinctions in compliance from other commercial facilities (like a winery tasting room). Your architect should be able to assist you in these issues, or you can call the ADA's governing body (the Department of Justice) with any questions (800-514-0301).
But it's expensive!
Lawsuits are the primary method of ADA enforcement in California, and lawsuits can be even more expensive than compliance; in fact, there are minimum statutory penalties for ADA violations (in California it is $4,000) that can be compounded for each accessibility violation.
Fortunately, tax credits and deductions are often available to offset the costs of compliance (Internal Revenue Code Section 44).
Have you ever been fined for an ADA violation, or have you taken preemptive steps to ensure compliance?
In another vein, do you have a therapeutic riding facility in your town? Or have you ever donated a trusted horse to such a facility? In August our barn is showing at the Sonoma Horse Park charity show benefiting Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center.