May 13, 1998
Ms. Diane Merideth
Safety and Buildings Division
Wisconsin Department of Commerce
P.O. Box 2599
Madison, WI 53701-2599
Dear Ms. Merideth:
I am responding to your inquiry about the application of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to the construction of "press boxes." You have asked if elevator access must be provided to a press box, and if the use of a platform lift or limited use elevator would be deemed equivalent to the use of a passenger elevator that complies with section 4.10 of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is responsible for the implementation of title II of the ADA. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to assist individuals and entities subject to the Act to understand their rights and responsibilities. This response to your inquiry is intended to assist you to understand the potentially applicable legal requirements and to identify pertinent facts that should be considered in applying the ADA Standards to press boxes and similar facilities. This letter does not constitute a binding legal opinion and it is not binding on the Department of Justice.
The ADA requires new construction of (or alterations to) public facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The Department's regulation implementing title II, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(c), provides that a public entity may comply with this requirement by complying with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design that were adopted to implement title III of the ADA. The ADA Standards establish requirements applicable to all covered facilities. There are no requirements that are unique to the design of a "press box."
The ADA Standards require a covered entity to provide an accessible route to an accessible facility and to provide an accessible entrance. Generally, a ramp is the preferred means of providing vertical access to an entrance. Elevators are required only in multi-story facilities.
The ADA Standards define a "story" as
[t]hat portion of a building included between the upper surface of a floor and upper surface of the floor or roof next above. If such portion of a building does not include occupiable space, it is not considered a story for purposes of these guidelines . . .
"Occupiable space" includes
[a] room or enclosed space designed for human occupancy in which individuals congregate for amusement, educational or similar purposes, or in which occupants are engaged at labor, and which is equipped with means of egress, light, and ventilation.
If a covered facility has two or more levels that fall within the definition of a "story," a covered entity must provide an elevator or other accessible means of vertical access to connect all floor levels in the facility. Although an elevator is the most common means of providing vertical access in a multi-story facility, ramps may also be used to meet this requirement.
It is unclear from your inquiry if the press box at issue contains "occupiable space" and whether it is a multi-story facility. If it does not meet either one of these requirements, there would be no requirement for an elevator under the ADA.
Platform lifts are permitted in new construction only in certain limited circumstances identified in section 4.1.3(5), Exception 4 of the ADA Standards. These include:
(a) To provide an accessible route to a performing area in an assembly occupancy.
(b) To comply with the wheelchair viewing position line-of-sight and dispersion requirements of 4.33.3.
(c) To provide access to incidental occupiable spaces and rooms which are not open to the general public and which house no more than five persons, including but not limited to equipment control rooms and projection booths.
(d) To provide access where existing site constraints or other constraints make use of a ramp or an elevator. infeasible.
The ADA Standards do not permit the use of limited-use elevators as an alternative to using a passenger elevator. However, the Department would regard such limited use elevators as "equivalent facilitation" in the limited circumstances in which the use of a platform lift is permitted.
I hope that this information is helpful to you in responding to the questions that you have received.
John L. Wodatch
Disability Rights Section >