The General Services Administration (GSA) has adopted new accessibility standards for federally funded facilities based on updated guidelines the Board issued in 2004. The adopted standards will apply to a wide range of new or altered buildings under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which ensures access to facilities designed, built, altered or leased with Federal money. They will take effect in 6 six months and will replace the existing standards, known as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).
The design and construction of new facilities, altered areas of existing facilities, and leased facilities will be subject to the standards, which contain updated provisions that improve accessibility while facilitating compliance. The new standards will apply to construction and alterations that commence after May 8, 2006, and to leases entered into after this date. Compliance with the UFAS standard will be permitted for construction and alterations that begin before this date and for projects whose design is substantially complete by this date. Further details are provided in a notice issued by GSA (see section 102-76.60, which is located on page 62 of the PDF version).
GSA’s ABA standards apply to all federally funded facilities, except residential, postal, and military facilities, which are covered by standards maintained by other Federal agencies. Last May, the U.S. Postal Service similarly updated its standards which govern post offices and other postal facilities. The departments of Housing and Defense will follow suit and complete the implementation of new standards under the ABA.
The Board’s updated guidelines, which are driving this replacement, also will serve to update the standards used to enforce the ADA. The ADA covers non-Federal facilities, including places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities. ADA standards are maintained by the Department of Justice and, in the case of transit facilities, the Department of Transportation. The Board updated its ABA and ADA guidelines jointly and reconciled differences between them so that a more uniform level of access is specified under both laws. This enhanced uniformity will be realized once all ADA and ABA standards are updated and in effect.
Further information on the update of ABA or ABA standard is availalble on this site.