Disabled Access Tax Credit

April 17, 2009

Did you know that there is a tax credit available for small businesses that remove architectural barriers. That’s a tax CREDIT, not just a deduction, equal to half of the expenditures for eligible accommodations that are above $250.  The maximum credit is $5000.

The following is excerpted from: Center for Disabilities Issues and the Health Professions

The credit is available every year and may be used for a variety of costs such as:

  • Sign language interpreters for employees and/or customers who have hearing impairments;
  • Readers for employees and/or customers who have visual impairments;
  • Purchase of adaptive equipment or the modification of equipment;
  • Production of print materials in alternate formats (e.g., Braille, CD, audio tape, large print); and
  • Removal of barriers, in buildings and transportation, that prevents a business from being accessible to, or usable by, people with disabilities.

“Most importantly for the purpose of the practitioner, Code Section 44 requires that eligible access expenditures must be reasonable and necessary to comply with the ADA requirements.”

My focus is on the removal of barriers.  For instance, a lawyer could use this tax credit, to build a ramp to the front entry and an accessible toilet room in an existing office space.  But the bigger issue is providing service to individuals with hearing or vision impairments.

A recent Freakonomics article “The Price of Disability Law“, concluded that the added cost of hiring a sign-language interpreter for a patient with a hearing impairment was a disincentive for a doctor to provide services for people with disabilities.  The article also references a lawsuit where a Dr. was ordered to pay $400,000.00 to a deaf patient. The doctor was probably not aware of the tax incentive that could have gone a long way to covering his expenses related to serving this particular patient.

Thanks to www.jenxer.com for reminding me of this tax credit.

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Uhhh….I’m left speechless.

April 10, 2009

I saw this on the west side of Houston this week.

photo_040809_002I even went into the store and asked that they remove the sign…..it was still up the next day.


It’s not a Flat Earth: Why your curb ramp is too steep.

April 7, 2009

It happens all the time on inspections.  I’m standing in the August heat trying to explain to a contractor or architect why the 6 foot long curb ramp is too steep.

They argue that since the curb is 6 inches high, the ramp need only be 6 foot long to achieve the 1:12 (8.3%) slope permitted by the ADA.  The fact that my electronic level reads a slope of 10.4% is usually ignored in a fit of cognitive dissonance.

So how can it be that a 6 foot long ramp is insufficient for a 6″ curb? 1″ in 12″, right? Nope, because you aren’t trying to get to the top of the curb.  Take a look at this diagram:

curb-ramp-diagram

Most sidewalks running along buildings (strip shopping centers are a good example) have a slope of 1/4″ per foot to allow for drainage away from the building.  This slope is usually continuous to the curb.  The curb ramp is fighting this 1/4″ per foot rise as it cuts into the sidewalk; for every foot of ramp length, the height increases by 1/4″.  In the example above a 6′ ramp will have a running slope of 10.4% (7-1/2″ rise with a 72″ run).

To comply with the ADAAG, the curb ramp must be 8 foot long to achieve a maximum running slope of 8.3%.  And, no, handrails are not required on curb ramps regardless of the length.

If 8′-0″ is too long, try using a parallel curb ramp that slopes parallel to the curb and doesn’t have to fight the incline.