Americans With Disabilities Act:

Initial Accessibility Good But Important Barriers Remain

PEMD-93-16: Published: May 19, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the Americans with Disabilities Act, focusing on: (1) disabled persons' accessibility to businesses and state and local facilities prior to the act; (2) the most common barriers restricting access to a facility; (3) business owners' and managers' awareness of their responsibilities under the act; and (4) business owners' and managers' efforts to remove barrier before the act's effective date.

GAO found that: (1) 67 percent of businesses' and governmental facilities' features were consistent with the act's accessibility guidelines; (2) there were no observable differences in accessibility among businesses and governmental facilities, but disabled respondents found the most barriers in service establishments; (3) the most common barriers for handicapped persons were facility accessibility and accessibility to goods and services within a facility; (4) 31 percent of business owners and managers were not familar with the act, and 47 percent did not know they were expected to remove barriers prior to the act's effective date; (5) 29 to 33 percent of businesses and government facilities removed barriers 18 months before the act's effective date; (6) most businesses that removed architectural barriers reported no related burden and cited specific benefits from improving building access; (7) planned barrier-removal efforts were often ill advised or unnecessary, since building features already conformed with the act's accessibility guidelines; and (8) although no establishment was totally barrier-free, only one-quarter of business owners and managers planned future barrier removals.

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