Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Starting January 1, 2020, New York City public accommodations that provide portable ramps for entrance accessibility will be required to post signs advertising portable ramp availability and listing a phone number for portable ramp requests. Places of public accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers.1 The law, which was enacted on June 29, 2019, does not impose a requirement to supply a portable ramp, but merely requires public accommodations providing those ramps to post the specified signs.2
The law also requires that portable ramps themselves, once offered to the public, comply with Section 1110 of the New York City Building Code—governing accessibility signage—and Section 405 of the International Code Council’s (ICC) standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities (ICC A117.1)—governing the physical dimensions and properties of accessibility ramps. References to these sections are not new; they require portable ramps to have the same physical properties and to meet the signage requirements of stationary ramps.3
Public accommodations may request waivers of some or all of the physical requirements applicable to portable ramps before the January 1, 2020 effective date. The Commissioner may waive a requirement if waiver does not “significantly adversely affect safety,” and “equally safe and proper alternatives” are “prescribed.” In addition, the Commissioner must specifically find that strict compliance with the requirements sought to be waived either (a) create an undue economic burden; (b) fail to achieve the intended objective; (c) are physically or legally impossible; (d) are unnecessary because alternatives could achieve the intended objective; or (e) produce only a negligible added benefit. The public accommodation seeking a waiver must submit a written request to the Commissioner identifying the specific requirements to be waived and stating the reasons for the request. The process to request a waiver and the standards for granting one are almost identical to those already codified in Section 1101.3.5 of the New York City Building Code, and will not be new to those who are familiar with the Code’s existing provisions.
Violations of the new rule are considered “lesser violations” for enforcement purposes, allowing maximum civil penalties of $500 per violation.
1 The New York City Human Rights Law provides, in Administrative Code Sec. 8-102: “Place or provider of public accommodation. The term ‘place or provider of public accommodation’ includes providers, whether licensed or unlicensed, of goods, services, facilities, accommodations, advantages or privileges of any kind, and places, whether licensed or unlicensed, where goods, services, facilities, accommodations, advantages or privileges of any kind are extended, offered, sold, or otherwise made available. Such term does not include any club which proves that it is in its nature distinctly private.” The ADA provides that a public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. See EEOC, The ADA: Questions and Answers, Public Accommodations, https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/adaqa2.html.
2 The signage requirements can be found in Section 1110 of the New York City Building Code and in Section 313 of the New York City Administrative Code.
3 The ICC standards on the physical properties of ramps are substantially similar to those described in federal regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).