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DOJ Submits Notice Adopting New ADA Standards
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted a notice to update its standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for administration review and clearance. If approved within the customary timeframe, the department could publish the notice for public comment in April.
The DOJ is expected to update its ADA standards according to revised guidelines issued by the U.S. Access Board. These standards apply to the construction and alteration of all facilities covered by the ADA except transportation facilities, which are subject to standards previously updated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Besides updating the standards, the DOJ notice is likely to address other topics covered by its regulations. A public comment period, expected to be 60 days in duration, will follow publication.
The DOJ must issue a final notice to complete action, which will include an effective date for the updated standards. Until that date, the existing standards remain in effect for all facilities, other than transportation facilities.
Current DOJ regulations require private-sector facilities to meet the original ADA standards, which have changed little since their publication in 1991. State and local government facilities must comply with either these standards or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).
Updated standards are in effect or pending for federal facilities that are covered not by the ADA but by the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). Most federal facilities, including postal facilities, are subject to updated standards adopted by the General Services Administration and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Military facilities and federally funded housing remain subject to the existing standards — UFAS — until the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development adopt updated versions. Once these agencies and DOJ implement the new standards, a consistent level of access will be specified for all facilities covered by the ADA or the ABA.
Standards for ADA facilities:
• Transportation: Updated DOT standards
• State and local government, except transportation: Original ADA standards or UFAS
• Places of public accommodation and commercial facilities: Original ADA standards.
Standards for ABA, or federal, facilities:
• Military and housing: UFAS
• Postal: Updated USPS standards
• All other federal facilities: Updated GSA standards.
Additional information, including links to all relevant regulations and standards, is available at www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/standards-update.htm.