Planners, architects, and administrators have long worked to comply with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under 504, older buildings did not have to be accessible as long as an individual could participate in the college's program. However, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which went into effect July 26, 1990, brought major changes for colleges and universities. Under the ADA, private universities and public universities have different regulations, but both must immediately begin barrier removal. Most colleges and universities have responded to this imperative in three different ways. A risk mangement approach is a calculated risk that current barrier removal efforts are sufficient until we see how courts interpret the ADA. A priority mangement approach does not remove all readily achievable barriers at once but sets priorities and begins with the highest. A comprehensive management approach spends funds to create a comprehensive plan for cost-effective barrier removal before any funds are spent on actual removal. With each approach it is recommended that institutions seek the advice of a legal counsel and document all decisions. It is also important to remember that fear that compliance will be too expensive is neither responsible nor defensible in court.
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