Thursday, March 17, 2011

ADA Guidelines Revised for the First Time Since 1990

For the first time in 20 years the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has been revised, big news.

What is ADA? 

The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 was made into law to assist in regulating and providing guidelines to make public buildings accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA regulations are basically guidelines of turn radius' for wheelchairs, wheelchair ramp configurations, where to hang handrails etc.

The specific nature of the 1990 ADA regulations have not changed in the 2010 revisions as stated in  -2010Section 35.151 (a). Section 35.151(a), which provided that those facilities that are constructed or altered by, on behalf of, or for the use of a public entity shall be designed, constructed, or altered to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, is unchanged in the final rule, but has been redesignated as Sec. 35.151(a)(1). ADA Guidelines

Do ADA guidelines apply to residential structures? 

No, nor should ADA guidelines apply to residential structures.

ADA is a good yardstick for residential structures but ADA guidelines are based on average the population. When designing a bathroom/kitchen etc. for an individual it is important the design is based on the individual's needs/height/reach etc.

Residential structures SHOULD ALWAYS be tailored to the needs of the individuals utilizing the structures. For instance, the ADA guidelines for mounting a handrail is based on the average population heights, if a handrail is being mounted for a small woman the handrail needs to be mounted at her waist level which would be much lower then the waist level of the general population.

So what are the changes in 2010 ADA Guidelines? 

 The big ADA changes are as follow:
  • New ADA regulations will include first-ever accessibility requirements for swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs and other recreational facilities.
  • Only trained dogs will be eligible for use as service animals. While service dogs can provide a wide range of assistance for people with mental or physical disabilities, they must help with issues directly related to the person’s disability and offer more than “emotional support” under the new rules. 
  • Standards for the use of wheelchairs versus other mobility devices like Segways and provide guidance on selling tickets for accessible seating at entertainment venues and reserving hotel rooms. 
When do the new ADA 2010 rules take effect?

The regulations take effect Tuesday, March 15 but some businesses get some leeway. Only buildings constructed or altered after March 15, 2012 will have to comply with the new accessibility requirements.

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