I feel as if I have spent a lifetime working in higher education, specifically in the parking industry! After almost 14 years, I’ve learned that nothing ever stays the same, and you always have to be on your toes, staying on top of the latest developments. that’s particularly true in the area of ADA compliance. Policy regarding ADA compliance as it relates to parking is constantly being updated, and it’s our responsibility as parking professionals to be aware of these changes and implement those necessary to ensure compliance.
Ohio University is situated on beautiful rolling hills and the campus intermingles with the City of Athens. The campus is very much a walking campus supported by transit provided by the city and the university. Lack of parking at many buildings requires the use of Campus Area Transit Cutting Across Boundaries (CATCAB), a service for individuals with mobility limitations, by many individuals with disabilities. One area behind a classroom building was designated as disability parking, as it provided those with disabilities access to this classroom and the library. There are no other parking options in this area, so we felt we were providing the best parking options available given the area and what we had to work with.
Unfortunately, a pedestrian (who was texting and walking) was struck by a vehicle in this area. This led to the removal of the spaces behind the building. A student with a disability permit who parked in this area every day was quite upset about the loss of these spaces and filed a complaint. The investigation grew to encompass every disability space on campus–spaces that were a quarter-inch off had to be re-lined, signs were changed, lots were completely re-lined to meet requirements, etc. One complaint led to a two-year process of ensuring all spaces were acceptable and up to code.
While parking itself has met all requirements, the university is still–four years later–working to make changes to meet requirements demanded by the Office of Civil Rights. How many of you are quickly finding slope issues, space width issues? How many of your newly-painted or constructed lots were painted and signed by a contractor who did not know these regulations and left your disability spaces outside of compliance? I think you will be surprised to find it’s like a poison ivy: once you scratch it, it spreads everywhere!