DOJ Issues Final Rule Revising ADA Regulations
August 3, 2010

Attorney general Eric Holder has signed final regulations revising the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The revised regulations will amend the DOJ's Title II regulation, which applies to public entities, and the Title III regulation, which applies to public accommodations. Appendix A to each regulation includes a section by section analysis of the rule and responses to public comments on the proposed rule. Appendix B to the Title III regulation discusses major changes in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and responds to public comments received on the proposed rules.

A number of the changes relate directly to building entrances, which can include windows and glass doors. For example, according to the Appendix B a new requirement of the 2010 Standards says if operable windows are provided for building users, then at least one window in an accessible space must be equipped with controls that comply with section 309, which deals with operable parts.

The appendix notes that "Commenters generally supported this provision but some commenters asked whether the maximum five-pounds of force requirement of section 309 applies to the window latch itself or only to the force required to open the window. Section 309 applies to all controls and operating mechanisms, so the latch must comply with the requirement to operate with no more than five pounds of force."

With regard to entrances, the 1991 Standards required at least 50 percent of public entrances be accessible. The 1991 Standards also require the number of accessible public entrances to be equivalent to the number of exits required by applicable building and fire codes. Section 206.4.1 of the 2010 Standards requires at least 60 percent of public entrances to be accessible. The DOJ says under these revisions, where two public entrances are planned in a newly constructed facility, both entrances must be accessible.

According to the DOJ, all final rules will take effect six months after the date on which they are published in the Federal Register. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design is permitted after that date, but not required until 18 months after the date of publication.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.