Starting January 1, 2020, New York City public accommodations that provide portable ramps for entrance accessibility will be required to post signs advertising portable ramp availability and listing a phone number for portable ramp requests. Places of public accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers.1 The law, which was enacted on June 29, 2019, does not impose a requirement to supply a portable ramp, but merely requires public accommodations providing those ramps to post the specified signs.2
The law also requires that portable ramps themselves, once offered to the public, comply with Section 1110 of the New York City Building Code—governing accessibility signage—and Section 405 of the International Code Council’s (ICC) standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities (ICC A117.1)—governing the physical dimensions and properties of accessibility ramps. References to these sections are not new; they require portable ramps to have the same physical properties and to meet the signage requirements of stationary ramps.3
Public accommodations may request waivers of some or all of the physical requirements applicable to portable ramps before the January 1, 2020 effective date. The Commissioner may waive a requirement if waiver does not “significantly adversely affect safety,” and “equally safe and proper alternatives” are “prescribed.” In addition, the Commissioner must specifically find that strict compliance with the requirements sought to be waived either (a) create an undue economic burden; (b) fail to achieve the intended objective; (c) are physically or legally impossible; (d) are unnecessary because alternatives could achieve the intended objective; or (e) produce only a negligible added benefit. The public accommodation seeking a waiver must submit a written request to the Commissioner identifying the specific requirements to be waived and stating the reasons for the request. The process to request a waiver and the standards for granting one are almost identical to those already codified in Section 1101.3.5 of the New York City Building Code, and will not be new to those who are familiar with the Code’s existing provisions.
Violations of the new rule are considered “lesser violations” for enforcement purposes, allowing maximum civil penalties of $500 per violation.