The U.S. Department of Justice is updating the regulations under Title II (Public Sector) and Title III (Public Accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act by adopting new Final Regulations and a pair of Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRMs).

The new Final Regulations are to become effective six months from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks. Compliance is required for new construction and alterations and barrier removal 18 months after publication. Comments on the ANPRMs must be submitted no later than January 24, 2011.

For assistance in compliance with the new rules or in submitting comments on the ANPRMs, please feel free to contact Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group and Real Estate Department.

The Title III changes include revisions to DOJ’s regulations related to accessibility requirements in design and construction of new or renovated public establishments and facilities. Entities that own, develop, build, or manage commercial facilities or facilities of public accommodation will be interested in these changes.

The revisions adopt standards for accessible design that are consistent with the proposed ADA-ABA Accessibility Guidelines, which were published by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) in July 2004. The DOJ has used the Access Board standards as guidelines; now, they will be mandatory.

Before the effective date of compliance with the new 2010 Standards, existing facilities not in compliance with the 1991 Standards must be modified to the extent readily achievable to comply with either the 1991 Standards or the 2010 Standards. On or after the compliance date, such facilities that do not fall under the safe harbor must be modified, to the extent readily achievable, to comply with the 2010 Standards.

To learn more about the accessible design provisions of the final regulations, click here.

Beyond issues of accessible design, the new regulations also address a variety of accessibility issues, such as selling and issuing tickets to individuals with disabilities; standards for when accommodation of service animals must be provided; a new two-tiered approach to wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices; the provision of auxiliary aids or services to assist in communication with disabled persons, depending upon the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; the option to use, in appropriate situations, video remote interpreting (VRI) services in order to communicate with patrons with disabilities; and rules governing the making of reservations in places of lodging, as well as extension of certain Title III rules to timeshares and condominium hotels.

To read about the provisions addressing accessibility issues beyond design compliance, click here.

In the ANPRMs, the DOJ seeks public comment on whether it should adopt regulations for certain categories of equipment and furnishings and Web sites. The equipment and furnishings topics will be of interest to various industries, including the health care, recreation, hospitality, and higher education industries, insofar as they encompass medical equipment and furniture, such as exam tables, scales, and hospital beds and gurneys; exercise equipment and furniture in such facilities as health clubs and recreation centers; accessible golf cars; beds in guest rooms and sleeping rooms, including college dorms and hotel rooms; beds in nursing homes and other care facilities; and electronic and information technology.

To learn more about the provisions addressing certain categories of equipment and furnishings and Web sites, click here