Justice Department Adopts the 2010 Standards for Accessibility

Justice Department Adopts the 2010 Standards for Accessibility

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From Access Currents - "On September 15, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published updates to its ADA regulations and adopted new design standards based on guidelines previously issued by the Access Board.  DOJ revised both its title II regulations for state and local governments and its title III regulations for places of public accommodation and commercial facilities in the private sector.  The revised regulations include new provisions covering the sale of tickets for accessible seating in assembly areas, service animals, powered devices used as alternatives to standard wheelchairs, use of video remote interpreting to provide effective communication, reservation policies governing accessible accommodations in places of lodging, dwelling units made available for sale by government entities, and detention and correctional systems.  The updated regulations take effect in six months.

DOJ’s regulations implement updated ADA standards for new construction and alterations.  Compliance with the 2010 standards will be mandatory in 18 months (beginning March 15, 2012) based on completion of the permit process or, if no permit is required, the start of construction.  Immediate use of the new standards is allowed as an alternative to the original 1991 standards.  The 2010 standards are closely based on the Board’s ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines, but DOJ’s regulations include additional design requirements that supplement provisions in the standards concerning:

  • location and dispersion of wheelchair spaces in assembly areas (221) 
  • dispersion of accessible patient bedrooms by medical specialty (223)
  • places of lodging with multiple buildings on a site (224)
  • housing at places of education (224, 233)
  • dwelling units made available for sale by state and local governments (233)
  • access to beds and roll-in showers in social service center establishments (233)
  • accessible cells in new and altered detention and correctional facilities (232)

DOJ’s regulations provide instructions on use of the standards in new construction, alterations, and existing facilities.  In general, the regulations stipulate that facilities that were built, altered, or retrofitted in compliance with the original standards do not have to be modified to meet the 2010 standards.  However, this “safe harbor” clause does not extend to residential facilities or to certain recreational facilities or elements newly covered in the 2010 standards, as detailed in sections of the DOJ regulations covering removal of barriers in existing places of public accommodation and program access by state and local government entities."

  • The new technical standards are quite similar to ANSI A117.1-2003 referenced in the International Building Code. This is because the government worked with the International Code Council (who develops the IBC) to have it be much more consistent in content and numbering than the old ADAAG.
  • There is an 18 month “grace period” during which either standard may be used, except for the specific new scoping areas.  A coomon one that may affect a lot of facilities is Swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.