Chapter 9: Certification
Regulatory references: 28 CFR 36.601-36.608.
The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to certify that State laws, local
building codes, or similar ordinances meet or exceed the title III accessibility
requirements. Certification is advantageous for the following reasons --
- When an entity is designing, constructing, or altering a
building in accordance with an applicable State or local code that
has been certified by the Department, the designer or contractor will
need to consult only that one code, in order to determine the applicable
Federal, State, and local requirements.
- The covered entity will have some degree of assurance in
advance of construction or alteration that the ADA requirements will
- If a covered entity is subject to a lawsuit, compliance with
a certified code will be rebuttable evidence of compliance with the
- A State or local agency enforcing a certified code is for
practical, but not legal, purposes facilitating compliance with the ADA
and helping to eliminate confusion and possible inconsistencies in standards.
- The amount of unnecessary litigation can be reduced, particularly
if a State or local code agency has an administrative method of effectively
handling complaints concerning violations of its code.
Does this mean that if an architectural firm follows a certified State
or local code, it will be safe from any Federal lawsuits because the State
or local government will be implementing the ADA? No, but the firm will
be less likely to face a lawsuit; and if it is sued, it has the advantage
of rebuttable evidence of compliance. Keep in mind that State and local
agencies are not authorized to enforce the ADA -- which is a Federal civil
rights statute -- on behalf of the Federal government. This is true even
when those agencies are implementing a certified code.
Moreover, the existence of a certified code does not ensure that facilities
will be constructed in accordance with the code. In addition, even if a
building is built to a certified code, that does not prevent a lawsuit concerning
the building's accessibility by the Department or by an individual.