Americans with Disabilities Act
Compliance Assessment Toolkit
The Americans With Disabilities Act – Compliance Assessment Kit (ADA-CAT) is a screening tool to allow individuals without advanced training to assess the architectural barriers of the built environment. It is not intended to provide an absolute measure of the features, but rather to provide simple, pass-fail assessments of the requirements of the ADA and other accessibility standards. The kit is composed of two parts. The Audits, which define the characteristics of an accessible and usable environment, can be found on the web site below. The Measurement Kit includes components for making the various assessments. ADA-CAT was developed by the Assistive Technology Research Institute at Misericordia University with support from R2D2 Center at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. It is now available for purchase. (See below.)
The Americans with Disabilities Act stated that public facilities must be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. It did not delineate what constituted accessibility. That job was delegated to the Access Board (http://www.access-board.gov). The Access Board, and their agents, have designed standards for minimal accessibility that now constitute the legal requirements for accessibility. The Audits found on this site are based on the work of the Access Board, but with some important differences. The ADA-ABA standards (http://www.access-board.gov/ADA-ABA/final.cfm) are prescriptive, and written with architects and other professional designers in mind. ADA-CAT is intended to help users without extensive professional training in architectural design evaluate barriers to access in the environment. In meeting this goal, the language of the ADAABA guidelines is often clarified to allow those without an understanding of specialized terminology to determine compliance . The ADA standards are, in places, extended to include features or environments that the ADA standards do not address. In all cases, the ADA-CAT Audits are designed to increase accessibility over the minimum standards of the ADA. Some of the ADA-CAT Audits extend the requirements of the ADA-ABA guidelines into new venues. Where the intent of the ADA is to provide minimum accessibility, the focus of the ADA-CAT is to assess barriers that are likely to confront individuals with disabilities. Through our work with the ACCESS-Ed grant of University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, we have developed focused audits for features of the educational environment that fall under the ADA, but are not specifically addressed. These Audits provide guidance on accessibility for this specialized environment.
The Measurement Kit
The ADA-CAT Measurement Kit is a set of tools that have been developed to allow individuals with only modest training in assessing accessibility to quickly determine whether or not features of the environment meet the standards of the ADA and the Audits. The Measurement Kit is intended to be a screening tool, and not the “final word” on accessible design. The Measurement Toolkit has a number of components, some of which are patent pending to the toolkit.
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