Making Public Buildings Accessible to the Handicapped:

More Can Be Done

FPCD-80-51: Published: Jun 6, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1980.

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The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board was established as an independent entity to provide leadership and to make sure that Federal agencies comply with legislation which requires that public buildings are made accessible to handicapped persons. The Board has not been able to carry out its responsibilities effectively, in large part, because it has been unable to operate independently, overlapping functions have been assigned to it and to other agencies, and leadership and authority roles have not been clearly assigned.

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) has exercised extensive control over the Board's operating budget and resources. The Board is required to appoint public members. However, because no one was appointed until December 1979, the Board was unable to conduct much of its official business during 1979. Some actions have been taken since 1975 to establish a set of acceptable building standards. However, much more must be done, and the Board must provide strong leadership by working with the agencies to make sure that its guidelines are followed. The Federal agencies are required to establish systems for incorporating access standards into building design and construction. The systems need further refinement. The agencies have generally included reviews of investigations of building accessibility into other audit and inspection activities. This approach may meet the legislative requirement if the agencies establish or improve building activity recordkeeping systems. The lack of records has made it difficult for the Board to carry out its investigations.

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