Under this rulemaking, guidelines are to be developed to cover access to sidewalks and streets, including crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. The Board’s aim in developing these guidelines is to ensure that access for persons with disabilities is provided wherever a pedestrian way is newly built or altered, and that the same degree of convenience, connection, and safety afforded the public generally is available to pedestrians with disabilities. The guidelines are being developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which covers access to a wide range of facilities in the public and private sectors, and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which requires access to certain federally funded facilities.
Current Status:On July 26, 2011, the Board issued proposed guidelines for public comment for 120 days (until November 23, 2011). This proposal incorporates public feedback received on two earlier drafts of the guidelines released in 2002 and 2005.
Whats Next: The Board will finalize the guidelines based on public comments on the proposed rule.
Background: Local jurisdictions, and other entities covered by the ADA or ABA, must ensure that the facilities they build or alter are accessible to people with disabilities. The Board’s ADA and ABA accessibility guidelines specify the minimum level of accessibility in new construction and alteration projects and serve as the basis for enforceable standards maintained by other agencies. Currently, the Board’s guidelines focus mainly on facilities on sites. While they address certain features common to public sidewalks, such as curb ramps, further guidance is necessary to address conditions unique to public rights-of-way. Various constraints posed by space limitations at sidewalks, roadway design practices, slope, and terrain raise valid questions on how and to what extent access can be achieved. Access for blind pedestrians at street crossings and wheelchair access to on-street parking are typical of the issues for which additional guidance is needed.
The Board previously proposed guidelines for public rights-of-way in 1992 and 1994. Based on the comments received, the Board determined that it should further coordinate with the transportation industry and State and local governments before continuing its rulemaking. Consequently, the Board undertook an outreach and training program on accessible public rights-of-way. Under this program, the Board developed various materials on accessible public rights-of-way.
In resuming its rulemaking effort, the Board chartered an advisory committee in 1999 to develop recommendations on guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way. The Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee was composed of 33 members representing disability organizations, public works departments, transportation and traffic engineering groups, design professionals and civil engineers, government agencies, and standards-setting bodies. The committee’s recommendations are contained in a report, "Building a True Community," which was submitted to the Board in January 2001. The report comprehensively covers the various components of public streets and sidewalks and provides criteria for sidewalks, street fixtures and furnishings, street crossings, vehicular ways, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. An ad hoc group of Board members proceeded to review the committee’s report in depth and to craft a set of draft guidelines based on the committee’s recommendations. Since the draft guidelines depart from the advisory committee’s report in several areas, the Board is making an advance copy available for comment by the public, including industry groups, State and local governments, and advisory committee members.
On June 17, 2002, the Board released draft guidelines that were available for public comment and foloowed up with a revised draft that was also released for public comment.