All historic properties providing access to the public are subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but there are some exceptions.
Historic properties are defined as being listed on, or being eligible to be listed on, the National Register of Historic Places, or designated as historic properties under state or local law. Owners of such buildings must conserve the historic nature of the building and provide accessibility to those who need it.
The National Parks Service’s Preservation Brief 32 introduces and provides guidance on how to integrate accessibility within a historic property. The brief outlines key steps including the completion of an accessibility assessment to identify items that do not comply with the ADA Standards and an evaluation of options to correct non-compliant items while being sensitive to the building’s historic character.
If it is not technically infeasible to meet current ADA Standards without threatening or destroying the historic significance of a building, an owner or representative must consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer. Exceptions may be made for accessible routes, entrances, and toilet facilities under certain circumstances.