The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 20th Anniversary Celebration Spawns Regulatory Activity

Long awaited revisions to the Standards for Accessible Design may be published by the U.S. Department of Justice, around the ADA’s 20th anniversary date this July 26th. When published, these final rules will include both design issues related to e.g.: accessible seating in entertainment venues/stadiums, arenas, raceways, etc.; recreational facilities and policies relating to: e.g.: changes in the definition of service animals.

One anticipated high water mark: publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for the Passenger Vessel Accessibility Guidelines has been delayed past late summer 2010. These guidelines, to supplement the Access Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles, will apply to ferries, excursion boats, cruise ships and other passenger vessels.

Hearing held: Access Board Proposes Amendments to ADA requirements for self-service machines: Changes under Board consideration include requiring at each location: re: ATM, self-service fare vending, collection or adjustment machines – and self-service machines used for ticketing, check-in or check-out, seat selection, boarding passes, or ordering food in restaurants – that at least one of each type of machine provided shall be accessible. Self-service drive up only machines would be exempted from these proposed changes.

The draft text is available on the Board’s website (http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm). Comments should be received by June 21, 2010. (For further details see Weitzman/Schleifer article below.)

Under the recently passed health care reform bill, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Act), in addition to making significant changes in the health insurance area, the Act also mandates expanded accessibility to diagnostic medical equipment for people with disabilities. The Access Board, which has the responsibility to promulgate related standards within the next two years, will review equipment such as examination tables and chairs, weight scales, x-ray machines and other radiological and mammography equipment in consultation with the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. These standards will require independent entry to, use of, and exit from, equipment “to the maximum extent possible in physician’s offices, clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, and other medical settings. The newly established Medical Diagnostic Equipment Federal Ad Hoc Committee held their first meeting in closed session on May 11, 2010. A public information meeting on medical diagnostic equipment accessibility is scheduled to be held on July 27, 2010.

  • In order to capture related categories for data collection, the federal government has amended the Uniform Categories and Collection Requirements under the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq). Those amendments include identifying locations where individuals with disabilities have access to primary, acute and long-term care; the number of providers with accessible facilities and equipment (including medical diagnostic equipment) to meet needs and the number of employees of health care providers “trained in disability awareness and patient care of individuals with disabilities.” Id.

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued to begin the process of updating standards for electronic and information technology. Since the Access Board issued the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Accessibility Guidelines and the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which includes Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments, technology has undergone rapid change. In an effort to both capture those changes, and to harmonize, to the extent possible, those changes with similar global efforts, the Board has decided to update and revise both the guidelines and the standards. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/report/index.htm for a detailed report on these proposed revisions. The draft text is available on the Board’s website (http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm). Comments should be received by June 21, 2010. (For further details see Weitzman/Schleifer article below.)