On May 22, 2016, a new amendment was added to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The change to the law states that if you hire a lawyer to assist you with an architectural barrier, the lawyer must give the business or establishment a written notice, explaining the architectural barrier, as well as 30 days to comply with the ADA. If the business does not make a change within 30 days, you and your lawyer can take that business to court to get the issue settled.

This new amendment comes after many lawsuits were filed in the past year suing businesses in Mankato and the surrounding areas for architectural barriers. In an effort to cut down on lawsuits that were not resulting in any changes, Minnesota decided to add an amendment to the ADA. This amendment does not change an individual’s right to file a civil action with the court however. If you experience an architectural barrier, you still have the right to file a civil action on your own.

If you, or someone you know, experiences an architectural barrier, please speak up. Start by having a conversation with the business owner and expressing your concern about the specific barrier. Let them know that you would like access to their business or services but are unable to because of a barrier that you are facing. Advise them that there are organizations that are able to inform them of their options in making their buildings accessible. If you are not comfortable having that conversation on your own, or have the conversation but nothing is done, please do not hesitate to contact someone for assistance. In our area, there are three organizations that can assist you with reaching your goal of accessing a business or service. Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), has many locations in the surrounding area. In order to get assistance from SMRLS, you will need to start by calling in the Intake line at 651-222-4731. Another option you have would be to contact the Disability Law Center. Again, you will have to start the process by calling their Intake line at 612-334-5970. They will assess your situation and determine if it is something they can help you with. The final option that you have would be to call SMILES Center for Independent Living and talk to the Advocacy Manager about the barriers that you’re facing. The Advocacy Manager can assist you in working with the business or agency in removing the architectural barrier. To speak to the Advocacy Manager at SMILES, please call 507-345-7139 or use this secure email form: Contact SMILES.