On October 30, 2006, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) adopted new standards for transportation facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Based on updated guidelines issued by the Board in 2004, the standards will apply to bus stops and stations, rail stations, and airports built or altered after November 29, 2006, as indicated in a notice published by DOT in the Federal Register. The standards may also apply to certain key rail stations and intercity rail stations but otherwise do not apply to existing facilities except in the case of alterations.
The new standards contain updated provisions that improve accessibility while facilitating compliance. For example, the standards clarify and enhance access to fare vending machines and bus stops, and include revised specifications for tactile warnings along boarding platform drop-offs that will accommodate a wider range of available products. These and other changes, including a revised format and numbering system, derive from the Board’s overhaul of its ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The notice adopting the new standards is available on DOT's website. As revised, DOT's ADA regulations reference the updated ADA guidelines (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.
Other facilities covered by the ADA, including places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities, are subject to standards maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ intends to adopt similar standards for these facilities but has not released a timetable for this action.
The Board’s guidelines are also being used to update standards under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) which applies to federally funded facilities. Several agencies are responsible for the ABA standards, including the General Services Administration and the U.S. Postal Service which previously adopted new standards that apply to most types of federal facilities and to postal facilities. ABA standards covering housing and military facilities will be updated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Defense. Once all agencies have issued new standards under the ABA or ADA, a consistent level of accessibility will be specified for the full range of facilities covered under both laws.
Further information on the status of these efforts is posted on the Board’s website.
ADA and ABA Standards Currently in Effect
ADA Facilities/ Agency
▪ Transportation/ DOT: New standards take effect Nov. 26, 2006
▪ Other Types of Facilities/ DOJ: Existing standards still apply
ABA Facilities/ Agency
▪ Federally Funded (other than postal, military, or residential)/ GSA: New standards took effect May 8, 2006 (February 6, 2007 for leased facilities)
▪ Postal/ USPS: New standards took effect October 1, 2005
▪ Military/ DOD: Existing standards still apply
▪ Residential/ HUD: Existing standards still apply