are not exempt from accessibility requirements. All buildings serving the
and/or used by FS employees
(except certain special-use buildings or parts of buildings) must be accessible.
This means that changes must be made to most historic structures to provide
accessibility. Usually, accessibility can be achieved without harming the
building's historic integrity.
The ramp on the front porch of the historic
Baker Ranger Station (National Park Service) in Baker, NV integrates
access while minimizing impact to the building's historic fabric.
An end view of the Baker Ranger Station ramp
shows how it was integrated into the porch structure. Existing porch
railings were retained.
There are sometimes
conflicts between providing accessibility and maintaining the integrity
of a historically significant property. Where full compliance with accessibility
requirements would create a "substantial impairment" to the
historic features of the property, the ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines provides guidelines for accessibility. Where access
to all areas of the structure is not possible, the most integrated alternative
access should be developed. Alternatives may include different entrance
requirements and limited physical access supplemented by additional programmatic
access. The most integrated alternative is the best alternative. All
people should experience the building in the same way whenever possible.
A ramp on the front would diminish the Stuart
Guard Station's historic integrity.
A ramp from the parking lot leads to a secondary
entrance to the Stuart Guard Station.
access is not possible, such as at an historic lighthouse, access to
a similar experience through programmatic features must be provided,
in accordance with Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Using
the lighthouse example, interpretive panels on a boardwalk around the
base of the lighthouse could display the view from the top of the lighthouse,
the interior of the lighthouse, information about the history of the
structure, and so forth.
The CCC stonework on the Point Iroquois Lighthouse
prevents adding a ramp to provide an accessible entrance.
District: Sault Saint Marie
An alternative program experience is provided
at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse
District: Sault Saint Marie
The General Services Administration (GSA) recommends
the following three-step
approach when applying ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines.
- Recognize that, to the maximum
extent possible, historic buildings should be as accessible as other
- When a loss of architectural character or integrity
would result from full compliance, apply alternative standards and
seek to provide at least:
- One accessible entrance
- One accessible restroom
- One accessible route
When an unacceptable loss of
historic fabric or architectural character would result from the treatments
in item 2 above, then "alternative experiences" may be developed.
Alternative experiences could include audiovisual presentation of inaccessible
areas, staff assigned to accessible areas, or other innovative means
of program delivery.
A transition plan must be completed for each building
serving the public and/or used by FS employees (except certain special-use
or parts of buildings) that is not already accessible. Each inaccessible
historic structure must be evaluated following the Secretary of the Interior's
Properties Accessible and Standards
for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Preservation Officers (SHPO) and the unit's accessibility
specialist should be included in the team evaluating the building and
identifying appropriate changes that will provide for both accessibility
and maintaining the building's historic character.