Texas Gulf Coast
Rio Grande Valley
San Antonio

Greek mythology tells the tale of Sisyphus; a man who, for eternity, must push a boulder up a hill. Before he ever reaches the top, the rock rolls back down. Today, the term Sisyphean sometimes describes what seems to be never-ending work. Many leaders in Texas local governments might apply it to the task of complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA is a federal law that ensures the privileges of civic life are as accessible to disabled individuals as they are to the general population. And Title II of the law requires state, county and municipal governments to be sure public facilities, programs, or services are accessible to all. You can plan to make accommodations with new projects. Retrofitting existing structures and programs is another story. At times, projects can become points of dispute and court battles.

Good things to know

While the ADA is strict about meeting requirements, those with experience in this area of legal practice appreciate that there is some room for governments to maneuver under certain conditions.

For example, there is no "grandfather" provision in the ADA that excuses local governments from making sure existing programs and services are accessible to disabled people. However, if changes mean fundamentally altering the purpose of an existing facility, program or service, or if they pose an excessive burden financially or administratively, an argument for an exception from Title II.

Another area where some flexibility exists is in the scope of access. While the law requires disabled accessibility for facilities, programs and services, there are acceptable limits. For example, one entry to a city office building that is ADA compliant may be sufficient to meet the law's requirement. One restroom in a facility that is ADA compliant could also be enough.

These are just a couple of the issues that county and local governments may have to address under the ADA. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make failing to act, presuming for some reason they are exempt from the law because of small size or a structure's historic significance. Regulators also note certain unintended shortcomings, such as when rules and ordinances that never anticipated the needs of the disabled remain unmodified.

These matters and more can be addressed by conducting strong self-evaluations, guided by experienced attorneys, with the ADA in mind. Indeed, those exams are also required by the law.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • San Antonio Office map

    San Antonio Office
    2517 North Main Avenue
    San Antonio, TX 78212

    Phone: 210-227-3243
    Map & Directions

    Harlingen Office
    701 East Harrison
    Suite 100
    Harlingen, TX 78550

    Phone: 956-421-4904
    Harlingen Law Office Map

    Austin Office
    2500 W. William Cannon
    Suite 609
    Austin, TX 78745

    Phone: 512-279-6431
    Map & Directions

    League City Office
    549 N. Egret Bay Blvd.
    Suite 200
    League City, TX 77573

    Phone: 832-632-2102
    Map & Directions

  • Rio Grande Valley
  • Austin Office map
  • Texas Office map