Attempt to mitigate Somerville MA School dstrct's ADA barriers


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When the Community Access Project of Somerville saw that the 2nd largest employer in Somerville- the Somerville Schools- housed all its administrative and programmatic offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the inaccessible Boys and Girls Club, CAPS sent this communication to the School District Superintendent and School Board.

The Inaccessibility of this facility discriminated against qualified applicants and staff with disabilities, parents, and others attempting to do business at these offices. However, then-City solicitor Gannon guided Somerville's ADA Coordinator to treat these as mere "maintenance issues." See page 4 of this document.

Due to this inadequate response, CAPS reached out to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (DOE OCR).

Fourteen months later, the City of Somerville has signed a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with DOE OCR.

The Resolution also includes mitigation of accessibility issues at Somerville High School, two K-8 grade schools and one K-6 grade school, plus the Notices policies and Procedures.

Final Resolution agreement at:

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Attempt to mitigate Somerville MA School dstrct's ADA barriers

  1. 1. From: Community Access project <>Date: October 4, 2009 3:13:44 PM EDTTo: Gretchen Kinder <>Cc:,,,, Paul Bockelman <> Chile Eng<>Subject: Architectural Accessibility Code & ADA issues at School Administration Building, 181 Washington Ave,Somerville MA 02143Dear Gretchen, and Superindendent Pierantozzi, School Committee President Maureen Bastardi, Vice-President Mark Neidergang, and Facilities CommitteeMembers Theresa Cardoso and Paul Bockelman,!Human Rights Commission Chair Barry Rafkind,!and Boys and Girls Club Director Chile Eng:This is follow-up on Gretchen and my summer correspondence regarding the inaccessibility of the Somerville School Administration Building@181Washington, Somerville, 02143. ! I am writing in good faith, but the message is unambiguous: !unintentional discrimination has the same effect asintentional discrimination- good people are excluded, and good people will be held liable.Also, there may be a need for clarity regarding whose responsibility this is. !It does not matter that the School Administration is renting from the Boys andGirls Club facility. !This is the Schools responsibility under Title II of the ADA ( 28 CFR 35) , and, as a recipient of federal funding (34 CFR 104). !Of course,it is also necessary for the Boys and Girls Club to be equally accessible to all employees and participants as well.!This email reviews 521 CMR (and, where appropriate, ADA), to detail the code (and civil rights) issues for Parking, Entrance, Door, Signage, AccessibleRoute and Emergency Egress- with applicable current photos of the Administration Building site. A Recommendation concludes this correspondence.(Included are some ballpark guesstimates derived from facility transition plans. !I have absolutely no business or personal connection or interest with, or in,the construction industry.)These civil rights issues cannot wait for future relocation solutions!!!Your collaborative response is anticipated. !I thank you all for caring for Somervillesmost precious resources.Best Wishes,Eileen FeldmanDisAbility rights Advocate, Ward 31. !HP PARKING!Resurfacing, restriping: !~!$6000 .You have indicated that this is the accessible Parking space. !It needs a level texture throughout with a cross-slope not exceed 2% throughout. !In addition,restriping is indicated. In addition, this is not yet a viable passenger drop-off spot either.!State AAB!code is pasted below for your convenience:521 CMR 23.0023.3.2 In parking facilities that do not serve a particular building, accessible parking shall be located on theshortest accessible route of travel to an accessible pedestrian entrance of the parking facility.23.4.3 Slope: Parking spaces shall be level with surface slopes not exceeding 1:50 (2%) in all directions.23.4.5 Delineation: Accessible spaces shall be marked by high contrast painted lines or other high contrastdelineation.23.4.6 Access aisles: All accessible spaces shall have access aisles that comply with the following:b. Access aisles adjacent to accessible spaces shall be five feet (5 = 1524mm) wide minimum,except adjacent to van accessible spaces the access aisle shall be a minimum of eight feet (8 =2438mm) wide.23.4.7 Van Accessible spaces shall comply with the following: b. Each space shall have a sign designating it "Van Accessible" as required by 521 CMR 23.6,Signage.2. !Accessible Pedestrian Entrance. !Reconstruction of ramp w/handrails: !~!$3,000I have not measured the ramp for slope issues,the cross-slope might be excessive- Ill be happy to measure that for you, upon request. !The concern Iblogged about in response to your comment is about the exterior pull side clearance. (I have not seen the inside conditions.) In addition, this entranceshould at least contain a reachable communication system such as an intercom, and/or be unlocked during all business/meeting hours. !State AAB!code ispasted below for your convenience.521 CMR 26.0026.6.3 !a. A minimum of 18 inches (18" = 457mm) of clear fl oor space shall be provided on the latch, pull!side of the door when the clear floor space in front of the door is a minimum of 60 inches (60" =!1524mm). see Fig. 26d.!b. A minimum of 42 inches (42" = 10667mm) of clear floor space shall be provided on the latch,!pull side of the door when the clear floor space in front of the door is more than 54 inches (54" =!1372mm) but less than 60! inches (60" = 1524mm)! see! Fig. 26g.!c. A minimum of 24 inches (24" = 610mm) of clear floor space shall be provided on the latch, pull!
  2. 2. side of the door when the clear floor space in front of the door is a minimum of 54 inches (54"=!1372mm) and the door has a closer. see Fig. 26d.!3. !LOCKED DOOR (see photo above)- this is a common mistake in other Somerville school facilities as well. !rewiring and installment needed.ADA TITLE IIThe accessible entrance must be left open or unlocked during business hours.If an accessible entrance needs to be kept locked because of security concerns relating to its location, it must be equipped with an intercom or buzzer. Insuch cases, the button activation needs to be mounted at an accessible level (no more than 4 feet above the ground).4. !SIGNAGE !(See blog at! !Please remember to correct the existing signage and to add Accessible Entrance Signage at inaccessibleentrances when this is completed. ~!$300.!!State AAB!code is pasted below for your convenience:25.6 SIGNAGEAny entrance/exit of a facility not accessible by persons in wheelchairs shall have a sign clearlyindicating the location of the accessible entrance/exit.5. !ACCESSIBLE ROUTE and EMERGENCY EGRESSresurfacing may be part of parking lot costing; safety solution will include handrails, perhaps intercom or safety buzzer here, to alert a staff member tocome out and guide safe passage to the back alternate entrance.!State AAB!code is pasted below for your convenience.We know the right rear route to what is currently indicated as the location for the only accessible entrance and parking-- is a disaster from all sides:but the front entrance provides absolutely no accessible pedestrian route from Washington street to the alternate left rear entrance, either. !This is aninteresting challenge. Challenges imply solutions:521 CMR 20.0020.2 LOCATIONWithin the boundary of the site, an accessible route(s) shall be provided from accessibleparking, accessible passenger loading zones, and public streets or sidewalks to the accessiblebuilding entrance they serve. The accessible route(s) shall coincide with the route for thegeneral public. 20.2.1 At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, facilities, elements and spacesthat are on the same site. 20.3 WIDTHAn accessible route shall have a minimum clear width of 36 inches (36" = 914 mm) except atdoors and at openings less than 24 inches (24" = 610mm) deep where it shall comply with521 CMR 26.00: DOORS AND DOORWAYS.20.9 SLOPE AND CROSS SLOPEAn accessible route with a running slope steeper than 1:20 (5%) is a ramp and shall comply with521 CMR 24.00: RAMPS. Nowhere shall the cross slope of an accessible route exceed 1:50(2%). (Refer to 521 CMR 2.4.4d)20.11 EGRESSAccessible routes serving any accessible space or element shall also serve as a means of egressfor emergencies or connect to an accessible area of rescue assistance.20.11.2 The exit discharge shall provide a continuous path of travel from an exit to a public way bymeans of a walkway or a ramp.a. Where public ways are further than 100 feet from an exit, exterior areas of rescue assistancecomplying with 20.12.2 may be constructed along the exit discharge located no closer than 100feet from the building.b. in buildings where the grade at the level of exit discharge prohibits construction of either awalkway or a ramp, a portion of an exterior exit balcony located immediately adjacent to anemergency exit complying with 521 CMR 20.12.2 may be constructed as an area of rescueassistance.20.12.4 Two-way Communication: A method of two-way communication, with both visible and audiblesignals, shall be provided between each area of rescue assistance and the primary entrance to thebuilding. The fire department or appropriate building official may approve a location other thanthe primary entrance to the building. Any operable mechanism shall comply with 521 CMR39.00: CONTROLS.20.12.5 Identification: Each area of rescue assistance shall be identified by a sign that states "area ofrescue assistance" and displays the international symbol of accessibility. The sign shall beilluminated when exit sign illumination is required. Signage shall also be installed at allinaccessible exits and where otherwise necessary to clearly indicate the direction to areas ofrescue assistance. In each area of rescue assistance, instructions on the use of the area underemergency conditions shall be posted adjoining the two-way communication system.RECOMMENDATION
  3. 3. I strongly suggest the School System invest in a knowledgeable ADA/Section 504 Evaluation Consultant to guide the Somerville School Systems to reduce theinternal as well as external Access & Inclusion issues at every public school facility and also in new construction planning. Such leadership will inevitablyaid the City of Somerville in early identification of avoidable cost overruns in upcoming major capital projects as well as guide the School system toovercome its legal liabilities. --- THE CITY OF SOMERVILLES INADEQUATE RESPONSE IS BELOW... City Solicitor Gannon guided ADA Coordinator Campbell to claim no responsibility, and name these as merely "maintenance" issues, for the landlord to fix!:Begin forwarded message:From: "Carlene Campbell" <>Date: October 23, 2009 10:28:09 AM EDTTo: <>Cc: "Tony Pierantozzi" <>, "Maureen Bastardi" <>, <>, "Mark Neidergang" <>, "M. Teresa Cardoso"<>, "Paul Bockelman" <>Subject: ADA issues at School Department Administration BuildingDear Ms. Feldman,Thank you for your inquiry regarding ADA issues at the School Administrative Building located at 181 Washington Street. I have attached for yourreview the City’s response on these items. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions or concerns.Sincerely,Carlene A. CampbellADA CoordinatorCity of Somerville93 Highland AvenueSomerville, MA 02143(617) 625-6600 ext. 2615