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While most people agree on the positive intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), analysts said the bill lacks sorely needed definition in both architectural and personnel demands.
At the same time, advocates for disabled people are pleased at the job opportunities the ADA could provide by prohibiting employment discrimination on any level against people with disabilities.
"The |ADA~ philosophy is good, but as an architect, I think somewhere along the line it snowballed and got carried to an extreme. I think there's going to be a lot of confusion about what to do," said Don Hurst, architect and planning coordinator at the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR).
The 1990 federal legislation requires all new and renovated buildings to be accessible for people with physical or mental disabilities and establishes requirements for employment as well.
The main complaint about the ADA is obscure language in the architectural and employment portions of the bill.
"The worst part of it is that it's too gray. There's too many phrases in there like 'reasonably achievable' where you have to make value judgments," said Chuck Tilley, a senior project manager at the Austin architectural firm of Page Southerland Page (PSP).
"Architects are hired to spend money, and we normally provide the minimum requirements under the ADA," he said.
Restaurateur Skeeter Miller, operations director for County Line Inc., said state and federal laws have different specifications regarding bathrooms for handicapped people, so companies may have to build two different stalls.
Architect Craig Wingfield of Interdesign, an Austin interior design firm, said the ADA "goes a little bit overboard in some of the construction requirements." …