As part of the administration’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Barack Obama announced today the publication of two final rules that will amend the Department of Justice’s regulations implementing Title II and Title III of the ADA. These two rules will be published concurrently in the Federal Register. Among the changes that will affect both rules are:
Adoption of the Revised Design Standards - New accessible design standards are established for a variety of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, amusement rides, recreational boating facilities, exercise machines and equipment, miniature golf courses and fishing piers; as well as for such public facilities as courthouses, jails and prisons. Element by Element Safe Harbor - The department is mitigating the cost of design changes by adopting a “safe harbor” under which existing building elements that already comply with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. Ticketing - The department has added provisions that provide guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating, the sale of season tickets, the secondary ticket market, the hold and release of accessible seating to persons other than those who need accessible seating, ticket pricing, prevention of the fraudulent purchase of accessible seating and the ability to purchase multiple tickets when buying accessible seating. Service Animals - The regulations define “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for benefit of an individual with a disability. Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices - The amended rules provide a two-tiered approach under which wheelchairs and scooters must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. Timeshares - The Title III regulation also makes clear that timeshare and condominium properties that operate like hotels are subject to title III, providing guidance about the factors that must be present for a facility that is not an inn, motel, or hotel to qualify as a place of lodging. Reservations at places of lodging - The Title III regulation includes provisions for reservations made by places of lodging, including requirements for procedures that will allow individuals with disabilities to make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as other guests.Also published today in the Federal Register were four new ADA proposals addressing the accessibility of websites, the provision of captioning and video description in movies shown in theaters, accessible equipment and furniture, and the ability of 9-1-1 centers to take text and video calls from individuals with disabilities. The proposals, which were announced by Attorney General Eric Holder on July 23, 2010, are in the form of advance notices of proposed rulemaking, or ANPRMs, which provide information on these ADA issues and ask questions seeking comments and information from the public.