What is the difference between ADA and LL58/87?

ADA and LL58/87 are frequently confused, but the two are distinctly different.

ADA is a federal law requiring that all privately owned places open to the public (think stores, movie theatres, hospitals, etc.) must be easily accessible to people with disabilities.  ADA does not apply to private residences.  Local Law 58 of 1987 (LL58/87), meanwhile, is a New York City law that mandates easy handicapped access in residential buildings.

Because both follow the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) guidelines for what makes a building “easily accessible” to people with disabilities, the two laws often have similar requirements.  However, generally speaking, they do not officially overlap; ADA, for instance, can never be applied to a private home.  The one exception in which ADA would apply to a private residence would be if the building also has a place of public accommodation, like a doctor’s office or retail store.  In this case, the place of public accommodation would have to be built to ADA standards, but the rest of the building would not.

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