Revised regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are in effect as of March 15, 2011, the Department of Justice announced. The revised rules are the department’s first major revision of its guidance on accessibility in 20 years.
The regulations apply to the activities of more than 80,000 units of state and local government and more than seven million places of public accommodation, including stores, restaurants, shopping malls, libraries, museums, sporting arenas, movie theaters, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hotels, jails and prisons, polling places, and emergency preparedness shelters. The rules were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder on July 23, 2010, and the official text was published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010.
The department is also releasing a new document, “ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business,” to help small businesses understand the new and updated accessibility requirements. In addition, the department is announcing the release of a new publication explaining when the various provisions of its amended regulations will take effect. Both documents will be available tomorrow on the department’s ADA website.
“The new rules usher in a new day for the more than 50 million individuals with disabilities in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The rules will expand accessibility in a number of areas and, for the first time, provide detailed guidance on how to make recreation facilities, including parks and swimming pools, accessible.”
The new ADA rules adopt the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which have been retooled to be more user-friendly for building code officials, builders, and architects, and have been harmonized with state and local accessibility codes. The 2010 standards also include, for the first time, standards on making swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs, and other recreation facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities. Entities covered by the ADA have until March 15, 2012 to comply with the 2010 Standards. In addition to adopting the new ADA 2010 Standards, the amended regulations contain many new or expanded provisions on general nondiscrimination policies, including the use of service animals, the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices, selling tickets for wheelchair-accessible seating at sports and performance venues, reserving and guaranteeing accessible rooms at hotels, providing interpreter services through video conferencing, and the effect of the new regulations on existing facilities. The compliance date for the all the new nondiscrimination provisions, except for those on hotel reservations, is March 15, 2011. Compliance with the hotel reservation provisions is not required until March 15, 2012.
“ADA Update” and “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Effective Date/Compliance Date” are the first of several planned publications aimed at helping businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and state and local governments understand their obligations under the amended Title II and Title III regulations. Individual print copies of the Effective Date/Compliance Date publication can be ordered from the ADA Information Line (800-514-0301 voice or 800-514-0383 TTY).
For more information about the ADA, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY), or access the department’s ADA website.