ACCESSIBILITY AND LIFE SAFETY CONSIDERATION – PUBLIC BUILDINGS
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that places of public accommodation (buildings that are
open to and used by the public) be accessible to all users. Modifications may need to be made to a historic
building so that it will be in compliance with current accessibility code requirements. Modifications to
introduce or enhance access for persons with disabilities must comply with current provisions of 521 CMR –
The Rules and Regulations of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board. Buildings listed on the National
Register of Historic Places may be eligible for a variance if compliance is impracticable. Owners of historic
properties open to and used by the public must comply with prevailing codes to the fullest extent feasible.
Plan carefully so that the work does not threaten or destroy the historic character of the structure, or
result in the loss of character-defining features, while at the same time providing the highest level of
access. While access must be provided to the primary entrance, introduce the bulk of an
accessible entrance ramp on a secondary elevation, if possible, or from grade at an existing walk or
pathway to an existing porch or primary entrance to minimize the visual impact. Make handrails as
unobtrusive as possible.