The New ADA Accessibility Guideline Standards

December 8, 2010

I recently returned from the annual Expo of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) held in Orlando. One of the important issues discussed in several class seminars was the new Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).  While the amusement industry strives to put smiles on people’s faces and to appeal to the broadest spectrum of the population as possible, safety of all guests is a prominent concern to the industry.  Operators are constantly striving to have a good working knowledge of the A.D.A. requirements and how they impact operations.  Such knowledge becomes extremely complex when you look at the wide variety of goods and services offered at an amusement facility or traveling show.  The facility or show not only provides amusement rides, but it also provides water attractions, go-karts, miniature golf, indoor theaters, restaurants, games, shopping, camping facilities and restrooms.  Each of these areas has its own nuances and requirements under the ADAAGs.

On September 15th of this year, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice promulgated a final rule amending its ADA Title III regulation, which covers nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and in commercial facilities.  The final rule can be found on Westlaw at 75 FR 56164. For earlier versions of the rule, you can use the Regulation Identification Number (RIN), 1190-AA46, as your search term in the FR database.  (A very common research question is, ‘I have the notice of proposed rule making, has the agency adopted the final rule?’ Most agencies, but not all, use RINs.  If you’ve got one, run it as your search term to find related proposed, amended and final rules.)

The final rule adopts the 2004 ADAAG and makes them operable six (6) months after publication or on March 15, 2011; while the 2010 Standards (ADAAG) will become enforceable eighteen (18) months after publication or March 15, 2012.  With the promulgation of 2010 Standards, amusement operators will be looking at ways to better accommodate hearing-impaired and sight-impaired guests.  Keep your eyes open for future discussions on this topic.

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