“When will new ADA and ABA Standards take effect?”
It's a common question posed to the Board since its release of new design guidelines for facilities covered by the ADA and ABA. These guidelines will drive updates of the standards used to enforce the ADA and ABA. The standards, which are maintained by a handful of other Federal agencies, are what must be followed, not the Board's guidelines. The Board’s guidelines are not enforceable or mandatory in and of themselves, but instead serve as a baseline for updating the standards that are.
The responsible agencies are updating their ADA or ABA standards on separate tracks and their progress to date is varied. As part of this work, the agencies will indicate when the new standards will take effect.
Determining which standard applies depends largely on the type of facility involved. Below is information on each standard and the current status of its update. Links to relevant materials, including those issued by other agencies, are included.
The ADA sets design requirements for the construction and alteration of places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities. The U.S. Department of Justice maintains the ADA standards for these facilities, except for transportation facilities, which are subject to similar standards maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Both departments are undertaking action to replace the original ADA standards with new ones based on the Board's guidelines.
ADA Facilities (excluding transportation facilities)
In June 2008, the Justice Department (DOJ) issued a proposal to update its ADA standards. This notice also posed questions to the public on various application issues, such as setting an effective date for the new standards, among others. The comment period for this notice closed August 18, 2008. Information on this notice is available on DOJ’s website at www.ada.gov/NPRM2008/ADAnprm08.htm.
DOJ will follow-up with a final notice that will indicate when the new ADA standards are to be followed. Until that date, the original ADA standards remain in effect. DOJ indicates that it could take up to a couple years to complete this process. The original standards are part of regulations which include important information about applying and following the standards. The standards should be used in conjunction with these regulations:
Places of Public Accommodation and Commercial Facilities
DOJ's title III regulation (28 CFR Part 36), which contains the ADA Standards in the appendix, includes important information about the use and application of the standards and specific provisions within them. Other information on this regulation is available on DOJ's website at www.ada.gov.
State and Local Government Facilities
State and local government entities are subject to DOJ's title II regulation (28 CFR Part 35). This regulation currently allows the choice of the ADA Standards (with some stipulated exceptions) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). This regulation references, but does not reprint, these standards. For the ADA standards, see DOJ's title III regulation; UFAS is available on the Board's website. Print copies of either standard can be ordered through the Board's website.
ADA standards maintained by the Department of Transportation (DOT) cover public transportation facilities, including bus stops, rail stations, and airports. On October 30, 2006, DOT adopted new ADA standards based on the Board's updated guidelines. The standards took effect November 29, 2006 for new construction and alterations, as indicated in a notice published by DOT (PDF version). As revised, DOT's ADA regulations reference the updated ADA guidelines as issued by the Board (Parts I and III). The notice also indicates several supplements or clarifications to its regulations and the standards concerning structural impracticability, equivalent facilitation, accessible routes, bus stops, rail station platforms, and detectable warnings on curb ramps.
ABA Standards (Federally Funded Facilities)
The Architectural Barriers Act requires access to facilities designed, built, or altered with Federal money or leased by Federal agencies. Similar to the process under the ADA, the Board sets guidelines which underpin the standards that must be followed.
Several agencies are responsible for maintaining standards under the ABA: the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the General Services Administration, and the U.S. Postal Service. The new ABA standards will replace the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), which these agencies jointly adopted in 1984. Generally, each agency’s standards apply to facilities it controls or funds, except the General Service Administration's which also apply to the rest of the Federal sector.
Federal Facilities (excluding Postal, Military, and Residential Facilities)
GSA adopted new standards based on the Board’s updated ABA guidelines on November 8, 2005. The standards apply to construction and alterations that commence after May 8, 2006, and to leases entered into after August 7, 2006. Compliance with UFAS is where plans and specifications are completed or substantially completed before May 8. For further information, see GSA's notice (section 102-76.60, which is located on page 62 of the PDF version); an amendment to this notice changed the effective date for leasing actions from May 8 to February 6, 2007.
The Postal Service issued a notice on May 17, 2005, adopting new standards for postal facilities, including post offices (also available in PDF format). According to this notice, the new standards take effect October 1, 2005.
The Department of Defense (DOD) maintains standards for military facilities and other facilities under its control. DOD has not yet indicated when its adoption of new standards will take place.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for standards covering residential facilities. HUD has not yet indicated when its adoption of new standards will take place.
The Board will provide further updates on this web page and through its newsletter on the progress of these agencies in updating their ADA or ABA standards.
The Board is available to provide technical assistance (and training) on its guidelines as well as the standards used to enforce the ADA and ABA maintained by other agencies.
phone: (800) 872-2253 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY), weekdays 10 - 5:30 EST (Wed. 10 - 2)
fax: (202) 272-0081