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As federal agencies work to update standards for accessibility to facilities, the U.S. Access Board has posted guidance to help building owners and managers navigate the temporary mix of old and new standards.
Guidelines previously issued by the Access Board are driving updates to design standards used to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The standards will be brought up to date, and they will be made more uniform under both the ADA — which covers facilities in the private sector and the state and local government sector — and the ABA, which applies primarily to federal facilities.
Several different federal agencies are involved in this work, and final action on some standards is pending. As a result, original versions of the standards remain in effect for some ADA or ABA facilities, while updated versions are in place for others.
To help users navigate this situation, the Access Board has posted additional guidance on its Web site as to which standards to follow according to facility type. This information explains the scope and status of each of the standards and provides direct links to the version in effect, including newly posted editions of updated ADA and ABA standards adopted by enforcing agencies.
This Web page also provides information on the status of pending standards, including those the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) intends to adopt under the ADA.
DOJ’s standards apply to all facilities covered by the ADA except transportation facilities, which are subject to standards from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Last June, the DOJ published for public comment a notice to adopt new standards, which it is finalizing.
The final notice will specify an effective date for the new standards. Until that date, DOJ’s original ADA standards remain in effect. Updated standards adopted by DOT are in effect for transportation facilities covered by the ADA, including bus stops and stations, rail stations, and airports.
ABA standards apply to federally funded facilities. Most ABA facilities are subject to standards maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA has issued updated standards, as has the U.S. Postal Service, which maintains standards for facilities under its jurisdiction.