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Over 2,500 Comments Received on Proposed ADA-ABA Guidelines June 2, 2000

More than 2,500 comments were received on the Board’s proposal to update its accessibility guidelines for facilities issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). This proposal was published last November and made available for public comment for 120 days. The Board later extended the comment deadline an additional two months to May 15, 2000. The proposal would update the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), which cover the construction and alterations of facilities in the private and public sectors covered by the ADA. It also would revise guidelines under the ABA, which applies to facilities in the Federal sector and others designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds.

Pie Chart:  Individuals 74%, trade/ manufacturers 9%, disability groups 6%, design/ code professionals 5%, governments 3%, other 2%, businesses 1%The v ast majority of comments (74%) were submitted by individuals, primarily persons with disabilities. Most of these comments addressed reach range requirements for people of short stature, access for people with multiple chemical sensitivities, movie theater captioning for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and access to certain elements, such as ATMs, for people with vision impairments. Comments were also submitted by trade associations and manufacturers, disability groups, design and codes professionals, governments, building owners and operators, and others. Some of the most common topics included alarms, handrails, assembly areas, van spaces and ATMs.

Comments received after the deadline were entered into the docket as the Board has a policy of considering late comments to the extent possible. The docket is available for inspection at the Board offices during regular business hours. Included in the docket are comments received at public hearings on the proposal the Board held in Los Angeles in January and in the Washington, D.C. area in March. About 140 persons provided testimony at these hearings.

Now that the comment period has closed, the Board is reviewing and analyzing the comments and will deliberate on changes to the proposed guidelines based on the comments. After completing and approving a final document, the Board will submit it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance. Once cleared by OMB, the final guidelines will be published in the Federal Register. The updated requirements must then be adopted by other Federal agencies responsible for the actual enforcement standards that are based on the Board’s guidelines. The Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation maintain standards for facilities under the ADA. Four agencies maintain standards for federally-funded construction under the ABA: the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the General Services Administration, and the U.S. Postal Service.