Build it Once, Build it Right
Construction occurs year-round, even during the winter months. It’s important to make sure new buildings are up to code and are accessible to those with disabilities. Landlords and builders are responsible for reasonably accommodating all occupants, no matter their capabilities. The Missouri Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against those who have disabilities in housing, employment, and places of public accommodation.
The most recent building codes set the parameters for accessibility requirements in homes and businesses. Any building that was ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, has an elevator, and four or more units are subject to the following requirements:
- Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs.
- All units must have:
- An accessible route into and through the unit
- Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls
- Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars
- Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If the building has four or more units and no elevator, these standards apply only to ground-floor units.
The Labor Department has an easy-to-use assessment for business owners or builders to evaluate the accessibility of their businesses for those with disabilities. The assessment covers a wide variety of issues from how many parking spaces and bathrooms are required to how wide doors and tables must be to accommodate various disabilities.