As part of the administration's commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Barack Obama announced the publication of two final rules that will amend the Department of Justice's (DOJ) regulations implementing Title II and Title III of the ADA. These regulations set standards for making buildings accessible for people with disabilities and also apply to private entities such as public accommodations and commercial facilities. Institutions (both public and private) will need to adhere to rules regarding: the sale of tickets for accessible seating; service animals; and accessibility to wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices (including Segways). Compliance with the revised design standards will be required for new construction and alterations eighteen months after publication in the Federal Register.
Among the changes that will affect both rules are:
Adoption of the Revised Design Standards - New accessible design standards are established for a variety of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, amusement rides, recreational boating facilities, exercise machines and equipment, miniature golf courses and fishing piers, as well as for such public facilities as courthouses, jails and prisons.
Element by Element Safe Harbor - The department is mitigating the cost of design changes by adopting a "safe harbor" under which existing building elements that already comply with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration.
Ticketing - The department has added provisions that provide guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating, the sale of season tickets, the secondary ticket market, the hold and release of accessible seating to persons other than those who need accessible seating, ticket pricing, prevention of the fraudulent purchase of accessible seating, and the ability to purchase multiple tickets when buying accessible seating.
Service Animals - The regulations define "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for benefit of an individual with a disability.
Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices - The amended rules provide a two-tiered approach under which wheelchairs, Segways and scooters must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use.
More to Come
Also published in the July 26th Federal Register were four new ADA proposals addressing: the accessibility of Web sites; the provision of captioning and video description in movies shown in theaters; accessible equipment and furniture; and the ability of 9-1-1 centers to take text and video calls from individuals with disabilities. Comments are due by January 24, 2011.