The United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, also known as the “Access Board” in Washington, D.C., develops and maintains the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, or ADAAG, which has been adopted by the Departments of Justice and Transportation as the design standards for new construction and alteration under the Americans with Disabilities Act. These standards are applicable in all 50 states and serve as the minimum required access standard. Individual states, as well as municipalities, have to use standards that meet this minimum standard, but can enforce a standard that is much stricter.

Public transportation providers which receive funds from the Federal Transportation Administration must comply with ADAAG design standards. Other state and local governments covered by title II may choose either ADAAG or the original Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. For consistency, we recommend all entities use the ADAAG standards.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Transit Administration specify which facilities and vehicles must be accessible. The Access Board provides technical assistance on the guidelines themselves, that is, the design features which must be incorporated in such new or altered facilities or vehicles.

The ADAAG guidelines have been in place since July, 1990. There have been no changes to the actual standards since that time, but there have been additional sections added as supplements. Sections 11-16 are the supplemental sections added for additional information, but not yet adopted by the Department of Justice as the “required” standard. That does not, however, mean they can’t be used for the types of facilities they address. A downloadable copy of the current ADAAG standards can be obtained at the Access Board web site.

The Access Board has completed work on an entire new federal standard that was published in 2010. Once this standard is adopted by the Department of Justice, this will become the new enforceable minimum federal standard and will be required to be used as the minimum in all 50 states. Until that adoption takes place, these standards can be referred to for clarity but existing ADAAG standards prevail. Full adoption of these new standards is expected to take place sometime in 2006 or early 2007.