There were new ADA regulations recently released. You can check these out at www.disability.gov website.
What are some of the key changes in the revised regulations?
Among other substantive changes, the amended regulations adopt the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which implement new accessibility guidelines for government facilities and commercial places of public accommodation. In addition, the amended regulations address numerous accessibility issues, including selling and issuing tickets to individuals with disabilities; accommodating service animals, wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices; providing auxiliary communication aids; and making reservations in places of lodging.
Adoption of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
The DOJ characterized these new guidelines as “more than incremental” compared with the previously applicable standards, which were issued in 1991. The heightened standards are technical in nature and include, for example: wheelchair access points (e.g., wheelchair spaces and companion seats may not be located on or obstructed by temporary platforms or other movable structures); reach ranges; single-user toilet rooms; assembly areas; location of accessible routes; entrances from parking structures; and location of guest rooms in lodging facilities.
2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design > http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm
Wheelchairs and Other Mobility Devices
The regulations adopt a two-tiered approach to mobility devices, distinguishing between wheelchairs and “other power-driven mobility devices,” which include a range of devices not specifically designed for individuals with mobility impairments (e.g., Segways). Wheelchairs and other devices designed for use by people with mobility impairments must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. “Other power-driven mobility devices” must be permitted unless such use would fundamentally alter the entity’s programs, services or activities, create a direct threat, or create a safety hazard.
The regulations define a “service animal” as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other animals and dogs that are not trained to assist with a disability or who merely provide emotional support are excluded from this definition.
Although not included in the definition of service animals, the regulations permit the use of trained miniature horses as an alternative to dogs, where appropriate and in accordance with the assessment factors outlined in the revised regulations.
Reservations for Places of Lodging
Places of lodging must: (1) allow individuals with disabilities to make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as other guests; and (2) identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms. Furthermore, places of lodging must ensure that reserved accessible guest rooms are actually available for those guests with disabilities upon their arrival.
The new regulation includes guidance on how to provide effective communication for persons with disabilities. For example, the regulation allows for use of video remote interpreting services as an auxiliary aid, if the entity complies with specified performance standards.
The regulations provide guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating, the sale of season tickets, the hold and release of accessible seating to non-disabled individuals, ticket pricing, prevention of the fraudulent purchase of accessible seating, and the ability to purchase multiple tickets when buying accessible seating.
“Safe Harbor” Provision
The final rule includes a “safe harbor” provision protecting facilities built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards for Accessible Design. Those facilities are not required to comply with the 2010 Standards until future alterations or renovations impact issues addressed by the 2010 Standards. Notably, however, the safe harbor provision does not apply to those portions of existing facilities that are subject to new accessibility requirements not covered by the 1991 Standards; rather, those features must be modified to the extent readily achievable to comply with the 2010 Standards.