Accessibility - Frequently Asked Questions


  1. How do I report a building or facility that I believe is inaccessible to people with disabilities and may be in violation of basic accessibility requirements?
  2. What can I do if I see a vehicle illegally parked in a space reserved for people with disabilities?
  3. What are reasonable accommodations?
  4. Whom would I contact to get accommodations for a program (physical, technological, emotional support, etc)?
  5. Where would I find Fairfax County Government therapeutic recreation programs?
  6. Are the employment rights of people with disabilities protected?
  7. What does it mean for a parking space to be accessible?
  8. What are my rights in Fairfax County as a person with a disability?
  9. Are there accessible recreation areas in Fairfax County?  If so, where would I find them?
  10. What recourse does a person with a disability have if snow has been placed in an accessible parking space?
  11. Does Fairfax County mandate compliance with accessibility provisions required by the ADA?
  12. Does the law require that accessible parking spaces be close to the main entrance?
  13. What options are available to a person with a disability after determining that no accessible parking exists on the shortest distance from the parking area to the facility entrance?


1. How do I report a building or facility that I believe is inaccessible to people with disabilities and may be in violation of basic accessibility requirements?

The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) enforces building code requirements in new construction and in building renovations.  Many building code provisions include accessibility features for people with disabilities, but DPWES does NOT enforce the civil rights provisions of the ADA.  For more information about DPWES’ role in ensuring that buildings in Fairfax County are accessible to people with disabilities, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/ada_fun.htm 

The Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs, Human Rights Division enforces civil rights laws including the ADA in private facilities and businesses within the county.  If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability by a private business or organization, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ohrep/

The Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs, Equity Programs Division enforces provisions of the ADA in Fairfax County government. If you feel that you have been denied a county service or physical access to a county facility, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ohrep/.

The Department of Family Services’ Disability Services Planning & Development unit promotes the self-sufficiency and well-being of people with disabilities through advocacy, education, and solution management so that people of all abilities can fully participate in our community.  For additional guidance on the ADA as well as assistance with advocacy strategies and ways to follow up on discrimination complaints, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dsb/ or call 703-324-5421 (voice) or 703-449-1186 (TTY).

The United States Department of Justice is the Federal Agency charged with enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.  For more information about what the DOJ can do for you, visit their website at: http://www.ada.gov/.  To file a complaint with DOJ, visit: http://www.ada.gov/enforce.htm#anchor218282.  Or, call Tel: 1-800-514-0301, TTY 1-800-514-0383.

2. What can I do if I see a vehicle illegally parked in a space reserved for people with disabilities?

You may call the Fairfax County Police Department's Non-Emergency Line at 703-691-2131.

3. What are reasonable accommodations?

The ADA establishes that reasonable accommodations may be necessary for a person with a disability to have access to physical facilities, and to participate in a public meeting, service or program.

If a building is not required to be physically accessible because of the year it was built or if it hasn't been recently renovated, the services’ providers are still required to serve people with disabilities by responding to requests for reasonable accommodations. 

Reasonable Accommodation requests may include an alternate means of providing a service.  For example, if a restaurant was built in 1972 and was not substantially renovated since 1990, then it would not have to be physically accessible.  However, as a person with a disability, you could request a reasonable accommodation that they serve you at the door or provide curbside service.  You can also request a business owner to make a physical modification to the facility as a reasonable accommodation.  The only reason that a business can deny that accommodation request would be if it were an “undue financial hardship,” if it were “technically infeasible,” or if it would fundamentally alter the nature of the service that they provide.

4. Whom would I contact to get accommodations for a program (physical, technological, emotional support, etc)?

It depends on what type of business or service you are trying to access.  Generally speaking, you can request an accommodation from any employee or representative of a business or organization, however it may make more sense to ask for a manager or supervisor because he/she is authorized to respond to ADA accommodation requests.

While reasonable accommodation requests can be made verbally, it may also be in your best interest to make the request in writing either through a hard copy letter or an electronic document.  The advantage of a written request is that if the request is denied or you do not receive a response, you will have a record of your specific request should you decide to pursue a formal complaint with a Fairfax County agency or the US Department of Justice.

5. Where would I find Fairfax County Government therapeutic recreation programs?

Fairfax County offers a variety of recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.  For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/rec/trs/ or call 703-324-5532, TTY 711.

6. Are the employment rights of people with disabilities protected?

The ADA prohibits employers with more than 15 employees to discriminate against a person because of his/her disability. For example, an employer may not refuse to hire, to promote or to treat less favorably an applicant or employee because he/she has a disability. For more  information about your rights you may contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at www.eeoc.gov 1-800-669-4000, TTY 1-800-669-6820 or the Job Accommodation Network at http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu or Voice/TTY 1-800-526-7234

7. What does it mean for a parking space to be accessible?

The ADA requires that if an establishment offers public parking, a designated number of accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities must be included as well.  For more information about the specific requirements for accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/dspd/handipark.htm  

8.What are my rights in Fairfax County as a person with a disability?

People with disabilities are protected by a number of laws including, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  For more information about the laws protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, please visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/dspd/legal_resources.htm.

9.Are there accessible recreation areas in Fairfax County? If so, where would I find them?

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) has a number of facilities that are accessible for people with disabilities.  For more information, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/.  For programs offered for people with disabilities through the FCPA, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/ada.htm.  For specific accessibility information about FCPA facilities, please contact Gary Logue at 703-324-8563, or e-mail: gary.logue@fairfaxcounty.gov.

10.What recourse does a person with a disability have if snow has been placed in an accessible parking space?

Fairfax County Government prohibits the piling of snow to accessible parking spaces located at County facilities. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is responsible for snow removal at most general county facilities and county maintained park-and-ride and commuter rail station lots. Fairfax County encourages residents and businesses to clear snow off the sidewalks in front of his/her property so pedestrians, especially school children, people with disabilities and older adults, can walk safely. A citizen may choose to call a business owner or manager to request the removal of snow from an accessible parking space.

For accessible spaces at non-county facilities, contact the Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hrc/. For more information about snow removal, please visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/navbar/faqs/snowremoval.htm.

If you are an individual with a disability and have been unable to access a business because snow has been piled up in an accessible parking space, access aisle, accessible route or curb cut, then you could also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice or the Fairfax County Office of Human Rights.

11. Does Fairfax County mandate compliance with accessibility provisions required by the ADA?

Fairfax County Government is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities in compliance with the ADA. The Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs (OHREP) is responsible for addressing all questions or concerns regarding the ADA. The Equity Programs Division monitors and ensures ADA compliance by county agencies. The Office of Human Rights enforces the Human Rights Ordinance which prohibits discrimination including discrimination based on disability.

12.Does the law require that accessible parking spaces be close to the main entrance?

The ADA requires accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities must be provided in all parking areas open to the public, and must be located on the shortest accessible route from the parking area to the facility entrance. In parking garages that service multiple facilities or entrances, such as a mall, accessible parking spaces must be dispersed and located closest to an accessible entrance.   Keep in mind that in a business such as a strip mall, accessible parking is not required in front of each business but can be dispersed throughout the parking lot with curb cuts to only a few stores as long as the sidewalk is accessible from business to business.

For more information about accessible parking, including information about specific dimensions of parking spaces, the number of spaces required, enforcement and how to acquire an accessible parking placard or license plate, please visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dsb/handipark.htm.

13. What options are available to a person with a disability after determining that no accessible parking exists on the shortest distance from the parking area to the facility entrance?

 The Building Plan Review Division within Land Development Services reviews plans for all new construction and alterations to existing construction within Fairfax County. All new construction must be fully compliant with the accessibility requirements in the International Building Code and the referenced technical standard American National Standard A117.1, “Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities”. When making alterations to existing facilities the owner must make all new work comply with the aforementioned accessibility requirements but must contribute an additional 20% of the total construction cost toward making the accessible route to the altered area more accessible. The accessible route includes the parking space(s), the route to the accessible building entrance, the elevator, if applicable, and the toilet facilities and drinking fountains serving the altered area. Thus, while a single alteration project in an existing building may not produce a fully code compliant accessible route per current standards, it will contribute incrementally toward attainment of that goal. If an existing building is not being altered, the Building Code has no retrofit requirements for accessibility in existing buildings.


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