United States Justice Department's New ADA Rules In Effect as of March 15, 2011

Revised Regulations of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) | Title II (Public Entities) Fact Sheet

Revised regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect March 15, 2011.  The revised rules are the department's first major revision of its guidance on accessibility in 20 years.

The regulations apply to the activities of more than 80,000 units of state and local government and more than seven million places of public accommodation, including stores, restaurants, shopping malls, libraries, museums, sporting arenas, movie theaters, doctors  and dentists offices, hotels, jails and prisons, polling places, and emergency preparedness shelters.

A full explanation of all newly adopted changes are available on the ADA web site. external link; opens  in a new window

For more information about the ADA, call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY), or access the Justice Department's ADA web site.external link; opens  in a new window You may also contact the Cornell University Northeast ADA Center at 1-800-949-4232 or their web site. external link; opens in a new window

Title II (Public Entities) Fact Sheet

Several individuals have asked The Division of Library Development for interpretation and opinions on how the 2010 Revision of ADA Regulations will effect libraries in New York State.  After consulting the Cornell Northeast ADA Center external link; opens  in a new window, we would like to bring to your attention the Title II (State and Local Public Entities) ADA Fact Sheet.external link; opens  in a new window This fact sheet highlights all changes from the 2010 Revision of ADA Regulations pertinent to public entities, including libraries.

Adoption of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

The Department has adopted revised ADA design standards that include the relevant chapters of the Access Board´s 2004 ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines as modified by specific provisions of this rule. To minimize compliance burdens on entities subject to more than one legal standard, these design standards have been harmonized with the Federal standards implementing the Architectural Barriers Act and with the private sector model codes that are adopted by most States.

Effective Date

The rule became effective on March 15, 2011. On March 15, 2012, compliance with the 2010 Standards will be required for new construction and alterations. In the period between September 15, 2010, and March 15, 2012, covered entities may choose between the 1991 Standards, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), and the 2010 Standards. Covered entities that should have complied with the 1991 Standards or the UFAS during any new construction or alteration of facilities or elements, but have not done so by March 15, 2012, must comply with the 2010 Standards.

Element by Element Safe Harbor

The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards or the UFAS would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. Similar safe harbors were adopted for elements associated with the "path of travel" to an altered area.


The rule provides guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating, the sale of season tickets, the hold and release of accessible seating to persons other that those who need accessible seating, ticket pricing, prevention of the fraudulent purchase of accessible seating, and the ability to purchase multiple tickets when buying accessible seating. It requires a venue operator to accommodate an individual with a disability who acquired inaccessible seating on the secondary ticket market only when there is unsold accessible seating for that event.

Service Animals

The rule defines "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals. The final rule also clarifies that individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals that are trained to perform a specific task are protected by the ADA. The rule permits the use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to certain limitations. To allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would not be appropriate, the final rule does not include miniature horses in the definition of "service animal."

Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices

The rule adopts a two-tiered approach to mobility devices, drawing distinctions between wheelchairs and "other power-driven mobility devices." "Other power-driven mobility devices" include a range of devices not designed for individuals with mobility impairments, such as the Segway® PT, but which are often used by individuals with disabilities as their mobility device of choice. Wheelchairs (and other devices designed for use by people with mobility impairments) must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. "Other power-driven mobility devices" must be permitted to be used unless the covered entity can demonstrate that such use would fundamentally alter its programs, services, or activities, create a direct threat, or create a safety hazard. The rule also lists factors to consider in making this determination. This approach accommodates both the legitimate business interests in the safe operation of a facility and the growing use of the Segway® PT as a mobility device by returning veterans and others who are using the Segway® PT as their mobility aid of choice.

Effective Communication

The rule includes video remote interpreting (VRI) services as a kind of auxiliary aid that may be used to provide effective communication. VRI is an interpreting service that uses video conference technology over dedicated lines or wireless technology offering a high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection that delivers high-quality video images. To ensure that VRI is effective, the Department has established performance standards for VRI and requires training for users of the technology and other involved individuals so that they may quickly and efficiently set up and operate the VRI system.

Residential Housing Offered for Sale to Individual Owners

Residential housing programs provided by title II entities are covered by the ADA. For the first time, however, the final rule establishes design requirements for residential dwelling units built by or on behalf of public entities with the intent that the finished units will be sold to individual owners. These design requirements are set forth in the 2010 Standards.

Detention and Correctional Facilities

The final rule clarifies the requirements that apply to correctional facilities. It requires three percent of newly constructed or altered cells to be accessible.

For more information

Copies of this rule, the 2010 Standards, and this fact sheet are available in an accessible electronic format on the Justice Department's ADA web site.external link; opens  in a new window For additional information or to order copies of any documents, call the ADA Information Line (800)514-0301 (voice) or (800)514-0383 (TTY) or the Cornell Northeast ADA Center (800) 949-4232 (voice/TTY)

Last Updated: September 21, 2017 -- asm