The United States government has made some changes to Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that will take effect on March 15th of 2012.
The changes to the ADA began taking effect on March 15th of 2011. Entities covered by Titles II and III remain subject to the requirements of the 1991 regulations of course. The new revised rules; however, set out a number of different compliance dates which entities covered by the ADA are required to comply with the new or revised provisions.
Titles II and III do not have an effect on any local or state laws that provide protections for people with disabilities at a level that is greater than or equal to the level provided through the ADA. An entity's compliance with local or state laws that are less stringent; however, does not constitute compliance with the ADA. March 15th of 2011 was the effective date for the revised versions of Titles II and III regulations which include in part requirements for some different things which include:
After March 15th of 2011 a sports arena; for example, must tell a person with a disability and their companions about the features of accessible seating at the arena. If the arena provides seating maps or brochures to the public in general, it must also provide similar information showing accessible seating to people with disabilities.
New Changes for 2012
March 15th of 2012 finds changes to the ADA regarding compliance date provisions governing hotel reservation policies taking effect. On or after this date; for example, the reservations staff of a hotel or a third party will be required to identify the accessibility features of guest rooms such as door widths or the availability of roll-in showers. The reservations staff will also be required to identify additional hotel amenities in enough detail that a person with a disability can make an independent assessment of whether or not the hotel meets their accessibility needs.
March 15th of this year is also the compliance date for using the 2010 Standards for new construction, barrier removal, alterations, and program accessibility. Under some circumstances, the revised regulations allow the use of these Standards prior to this compliance date; however, entities are not required to comply with the Standards until March 15th of this year.
New Construction, Alterations, and Titles II and III of the ADA
Entities under Titles II and III that choose to undertake new construction or alterations between September 15th of 2010 and March 15th of 2012 can choose either the 1991 Standards or the 2010 Standards. Entities under Title II can also choose to pursue the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) during this time period if they wish. Such an entity must use the Standard for every element in its entire facility. An example of this is an entity may not use both the 1991 Standards for accessible routes as well as the 2010 Standards for accessible seating; it would violate the ADA.
Every newly constructed or altered facility has to comply with all of the requirements of the 2010 Standards after March 15th of 2012. It is important to note that if elements in existing facilities are already in compliance with corresponding element of the 1991 Standards and are not being altered, they are not required to make any changes to those elements in order to bring them into compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards.
Program Accessibility and Title II of the ADA
State and local governments are public entities and between September 15th of 2010 and March 15th of 2012 they have the option of choosing to follow the 1991 ADA Standards, the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards in relation to any architectural changes they make to provision of program access. It is important to note that both state and local governments may not use the elevator exception in the 1991 Standards.
Public entities have to comply with one of the Standards - the 1991 Standards, the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards within a single building. Take; for example, a county that has never pursued any measures to make its community center's programs accessible for people with disabilities. Let's say that in April of 2011, the county starts to make architectural changes in order to meet its program accessibility obligation at its community center. The county has a choice - it can pursue the 1991 ADA Standards, the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards. However - the county has to use the Standard it chooses, only one, for every architectural change it makes in the community center. The county cannot use the 1991 Standards for the entrance to the community center, and the use the 2010 Standards for the restrooms.
New Changes for 2012 Involving 2010 Standards
Public entities have to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards on or after March 15th of 2012 when they make architectural changes with the goal of achieving program accessibility, as well as for all new construction and alterations. On or after this date, every public entity has the consider supplemental requirements such as play areas, swimming pools, and fishing piers in the 2010 Standards, assessing their compliance with program accessibility.
It is important to note that if elements in facilities that are already in existence comply with corresponding elements in the 1991 Standards, or the UFAS, and the facilities will not be altered, Title II entities are not required to make changes to those particular elements to bring them into compliance with the 2010 Standards.
Readily Achievable Barrier Removal and Title III of the ADA
Businesses that serve the public and do not comply with the requirements for the elements in the 1991 ADA Standards may, between September 15th, 2010 and March 15th, 2012 modify elements to the extent readily achievable using the 1991 Standards or the 2010 Standards. Businesses can only use one of these Standards when removing barriers in their entire facility. A business cannot; for example, choose the 1991 Standards for accessible routes, and then pursue the 2010 Standards for its restrooms.
Facilities that do not comply with the 1991 Standard's requirements for the readily achievable barrier removal and Title III of the ADA on or after March 15th of 2012 must be modified using the 2010 Standards. Take; for example, a restaurant that has never pursued readily achievable barrier removal. Such a restaurant must pursue the 2010 Standards on or after March 15th of this year in relation to any readily achievable barrier removal.
March 15th of 2012 is also the compliance date for the 2010 Standards which include revisions to the 1991 Standards. It is the date for supplemental requirements for which there are not scoping requirements or technical requirements in the 1991 Standards, such as marinas, play areas, golf facilities, or swimming pools. Public accommodations are required to comply with the 2010 Standards' supplemental requirements in existing facilities to the extent readily achievable on or after this date.
Accessibility is Good for Business and Services
In the United States of America there are more than 54 million People with Disabilities who comprise greater than 18% of the population. All of these Americans with Disabilities are potential customers for every type of business in the nation. People with Disabilities as a group have $175 billion in discretionary spending power according to the U.S. Department of Labor; a figure demonstrating twice the spending power of American teenagers and 18 times the spending power of, 'tweens.'
Making a facility, business, or other building accessible attracts not only people who experience forms of disabilities, but our family members and friends as well. Like non-disabled persons, we visit restaurants, stores, movie theaters and many other places of business accompanied with our family members and friends. Making a business, facility, or other building accessible to us expands the potential market exponentially!
The market related to People with Disabilities is growing very rapidly. By the year 2030, more than 71.5 million Baby Boomers will have reached age 65. They will demand services, products, as well as environments that meet their age-related physical and mental changes. Businesses, facilities, and other buildings that are accessible, meeting the 2010 ADA Standards, are ones that will attract this massive population.
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