As a rule, all buildings that are newly constructed or altered should comply with ADA standards for accessibility. This rule covers almost all structures that people are expected to access, like work areas, restaurants, medical facilities and even temporary structures. While this is a general rule, there are some exceptions that are put into play for some structures.

General exceptions to this rule include the following:

When a part of the new construction’s terrain comes with unique characteristics that make it structurally impracticable to include accessibility features, any portion of the said building that can be made accessible shall be made compliant as long as these areas are not structurally impracticable.

Raised areas that are used primarily for life, security or fire safety. This may include (but are not limited to) lookout or observation galleries, fire towers, life guard stands that are fixed and prison guard towers.

Spaces that cannot be occupied and can only be accessed by catwalks, ladders and crawl spaces. The same goes for those that can only be reached via tunnels, extremely narrow passageways and non-passenger freight elevators. These spaces are usually accessed only by maintenance and service personnel for repairs or monitoring of equipment. Examples of such spaces include elevator shafts, electric substations, sewage or water treatment pump stations and tunnel utility facilities, to name a few.

Raised structures that are used exclusively for scoring, judging or refereeing a sport.

Animal containment areas that the public are not allowed to access or use.

Raised wrestling or boxing rings.


A number of temporary facilities are also exempted from ADA compliance requirements. For example, portable toilet units being used at construction sites, and are there exclusively for the use of people who work on the site, are exempted from having to be ADA compliant.

While there are quite a few places that are exempted from needing to comply with ADA standards when it comes to accessibility needs, there are still a lot of locales that can be accessed by most anyone. These, however need to have ADA compliant signs. As such, where these ADA signs should be placed, how they should be placed and what these should be is another topic altogether.