The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plans

by Frank Brewer

You may be hearing quite a bit about ADA Transition Plans in the context of state and federally funded transportation projects. However, how much do you know about these transition plans? Do you know who is required to have one? If your agency has a transition plan in place, does the plan satisfy ADA requirements? This article will address some of the basic elements of the ADA, including transition plans and self-evaluation process.

Title V, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act states that "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States₀shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance₀" Title II of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act extends this prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability to all public services, programs, and facilities, regardless of funding sources. If an agency does not provide access to all programs and facilities, what should it do?

Cities and Counties that employ 50 or more persons (including Boards, Councils, and part-time employees) are required to name an ADA coordinator and to establish a grievance procedure that allows members of the public to address programs or facilities that may not provide sufficient access. The ADA coordinator is the point of contact for such complaints and will oversee the agency's efforts to address concerns. Cities, Counties, and other public entities at or above the 50-employee threshold are also required to conduct a self-evaluation of all services, programs, and facilities. The resulting transition plan identifies ADA compliance issues, identifies changes which will bring these elements into compliance, and establishes a timeline to address these issues.

The transition plan should take the City or County well beyond curb cuts and ramps. It will address all public access areas, programs, and services provided or maintained by the agency. In basic terms, successful completion of a transition plan includes the following steps:

  1. Designate an ADA Coordinator
  2. Provide public notice about ADA requirements
  3. Establish a grievance procedure
  4. Develop internal standards, specifications, and details
  5. Develop a self-evaluation and transition plan
  6. Approve a schedule and budget to implement the transition plan
  7. Monitor progress toward implementation of the transition plan

Did you know that your requests for federal or state funding could be denied if your agency does not have a current transition plan in place? Even if your agency does not maintain a single curb ramp or sidewalk, a transition plan may be required. Agencies that do not have an ADA they will not lose out on future funding opportunities. Even if you have a plan on file, remember that it is not a "file and forget" proposition. You must take steps to successfully address the issues that were identified in the self-evaluation process.

Developing an ADA transition plan may not be simple, but help is available. TTAP will be offering one-day training workshops on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Self-Evaluations/Transition Plans and Overview of Elements of Public Right-of-Way Accessibility. These workshops will be in Jackson (November 14), Oak Ridge (November 16), and Nashville (November 17). You will be able to find additional information on these and other workshops on the TTAP website at

Online and additional ADA Resources


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