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New NYC Retail Requirements for Portable Wheelchair Ramps

by: Adam Michaels

Starting January 1, 2020, retail establishments and other places of public accommodation in New York City that offer portable wheelchair access ramps will be required to post a sign advertising that a portable ramp is available and providing a phone number for patrons to call to request the ramp.  The sign must be posted at all inaccessible building entrances, include the dynamic version of the International Symbol of Accessibility, and otherwise comply with New York City Building Code requirements for accessibility signage.  The New York City Building Code already requires directional signage at inaccessible building entrances indicating the route to the nearest accessible entrance.

New York City businesses, particularly those located in Landmark Preservation Commission-designated historic districts where installation of a permanent ramp structure is not readily achievable, often provide portable wheelchair access ramps to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines.  In addition to the new sign requirements, portable ramps are now required to have the same physical properties as permanent ramps and satisfy the same International Code Council standards relating to rise, slope, width, handrails, etc.

Failure to comply with the new regulations constitutes a lesser violation of the New York City Building Code and could subject a business to a civil penalty up to $500 per violation.  Additionally, given recent trends in ADA litigation, a business’ failure to comply with the new regulations would be expected to attract private lawsuits alleging violation of the ADA and its State and City analogs.