Americans With Disabilities Act:

Effects of the Law on Access to Goods and Services

PEMD-94-14: Published: Jun 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has increased disabled persons' access to goods and services provided by businesses and state and local governments, focusing on: (1) the changes in accessibility for disabled persons; (2) the most common accessibility barriers; (3) the changes in business owners' awareness of their responsibilities under ADA; and (4) business owners' barrier removal efforts.

GAO found that: (1) in the 15 months after ADA took effect, businesses' compliance with accessibility standards increased from 67 percent to 74 percent; (2) the percentage of disabled persons that did not encounter certain accessibility barriers increased from 72 percent to 82 percent; (3) 71 percent of the most common barriers were in the second highest priority category for removal; (4) barriers included insufficient numbers of signs useful to visually impaired persons, few assistive devices for deaf persons in hotel rooms, inaccessible bathing facilities and toilets in hotel rooms, and pay phones without text telephones or amplification systems; (5) business owners' awareness of their ADA responsibilities increased from 69 percent to 92 percent; (6) by April 1993, 45 percent of the facilities reviewed had not removed architectural barriers and 50 percent did not have any removal plans; (7) nearly all of the facilities should have had removal plans, since only one establishment was totally barrier-free; (8) few facilities experienced burdens with barrier removal; and (9) the number of planned removals that did not comply with ADA guidelines increased.

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