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About the Architectural Barriers Act and Other Disability Rights Laws

Accessibility ... It's the Law
Steps at entrances, a lack of accessible parking or restrooms, and signs without tactile characters make facilities unusable by people with disabilities. If you are unable to access a facility due to these or other barriers, the Access Board can help. The Board enforces accessibility requirements for facilities that are federally funded under a law known as the Architectural Barriers Act. Should your concerns pertain to other types of facilities or to issues unrelated to building design, the Board can direct you to the right resource.

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
The ABA requires access to facilities designed, built or altered with Federal dollars or leased by Federal agencies. The law covers a wide range of facilities, including post offices, social security offices, prisons, and national parks. It also applies to non-government facilities that have received Federal funding, such as certain schools, public housing, and mass transit systems. Passed in 1968, the ABA stands as the first measure by Congress to ensure access to the built environment. Facilities that predate the law generally are not covered, but alterations or leases undertaken after the law took effect can trigger coverage.Board office building (photo)

The Access Board
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency that was created to enforce the ABA. The Board also maintains accessibility guidelines upon which the design requirements of the ABA are based. Over the years, the Board's mission has expanded beyond the Federal sector and facility design. As a result, the Board has become a leading source of information on accessible design. Under several different laws passed after the ABA, the Board maintains design criteria for facilities in the private and public sectors, transportation vehicles, telecommunications, and electronic and information technology. However, these requirements are enforced by other agencies.


occupied wheelchair space in plan view that is 36 inches wide and is located in an alcove 24 or more inches deepWhat Makes a Facility Accessible?
Ramps at entrances and curbs, designated parking spaces, phones equipped with volume controls, and tactile signs are some of the features that make a building accessible to people with disabilities. Design standards covering these and other elements are used to ensure accessibility under the ABA. These standards indicate where access is required and provide detailed specifications for ramps, elevators,  restrooms, drinking fountains, fire alarms, signs, and other accessible building elements. Facilities covered by the ABA must meet these standards.

Enforcing the ABA
The Board enforces the ABA through the investigation of complaints it receives concerning particular facilities. The first step of an investigation is to determine whether the facility is covered by the law. Where a facility is covered by the ABA, the next step is to verify whether the facility meets the applicable accessibility standards. If it does not, then the Board will work with the responsible entities to develop a plan to bring the facility into compliance. Cases are closed only after the necessary correction action is completed.

Filing a Complaint
Filing an ABA complaint with the Board is simple to do. All the Board needs is the name and address of the facility and a brief description of the barriers to accessibility.  Additional information about the facility, such as when it was built or known sources of Federal funding, is helpful but not necessary. Personal information, including one's name, is optional and, where provided, is kept confidential. Complaints can be submitted by mail, fax, e-mail, or through an on-line form on the Board's website. You
can use the form on the next page to file a complaint.

Mail:    Compliance and Enforcement Section
             1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
              Washington, DC 20004-1111
Fax:     (202) 272-0081
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web:    www.access-board.gov

ABA Complaint Form
To file a complaint under the ABA about a facility, complete this form and send it to the Access Board.



Contact Information (optional)
If provided, this information is kept confidential.
Your Name: _________________________
Address:     ___________________________________________
City/State:  ________________________   Zip:  ____________
Phone:  ____________________

Facility Information
Facility: _________________________
Address:  ____________________________________________
City/State:  ________________________   Zip:  ____________
Phone:  ____________________

Description of barrier(s) to accessibility:

_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________


You can include photos or sketches of the barriers.

If known, the following can help our investigation:

Facility Owner/ Manager: _______________________________
Address:  ____________________________________________
City/State:  ________________________   Zip:  ____________
Phone:  ____________________


Federal agencies that occupy or manage the facility: ________
_____________________________________________________

Federal funds that may have been used to design, build, alter, or lease
the facility:
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

Date(s) facility was built or altered:
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________



Other Disability Rights Laws

There are a number of other Federal laws that protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These laws cover access to facilities in the private and public sectors, government programs and services, housing, transportation, employment, telecommunications, and voting. Provided here is a quick guide to these laws and contacts for further information.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government services, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications. Unlike the ABA, the ADA's coverage is not tied to the presence of Federal funding. For more information, contact a regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTACs) or the appropriate Federal agency.

Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center
www.adata.org
(800) 949-4232 (voice/ TTY)

Employment
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
www.eeoc.gov
(800) 669-4000 (voice) (800) 669-6820 (TTY)

Government Services & Public Accommodations
Department of Justice
www.ada.gov
(800) 514-0301 (voice) (800) 514-0383 (TTY)

Transportation
Federal Transit Administration
www.fta.dot.gov
(888) 446-4511 (voice/ relay)

ADA Accessibility Guidelines
Access Board
www.access-board.gov
(800) 872-2253 (voice) (800) 993-2822 (TTY)

Telecommunication Relay Services
Federal Communication Commission
www.fcc.gov
(888) 225-5322 (voice) (888) 835-5322 (TTY)

The Rehabilitation Act
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensures access to programs and activities that are federally funded. It also protects the rights of Federal employees with disabilities.  Federal agencies are responsible for enforcing requirements as they apply to their own programs, services, and employment practices. The law also requires electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies to be accessible according to standards issued by the Access Board.

Employment
Contact the responsible Federal agency's Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Programs and Activities
Each Federal agency is responsible for ensuring that the programs and activities it funds meet the access requirements of section 504 of the law. To find a Federal agency's section 504 contact, call the Access Board or visit our website at: www.access-board.gov/enforcement/504.htm.

Electronic & Information Technology
General Services Administration
www.section508.gov

Electronic & Information Technology Standards
Access Board
www.access-board.gov
(800) 872-2253 (voice) (800) 993-2822 (TTY)

The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, as well as race, color, gender, and religion. It covers housing in the public and private sectors and bans discrimination in any aspect of selling or renting housing. Under the law, new multifamily housing must be able to be adapted for accessibility according to established guidelines. The law also requires reasonable exceptions to housing policies and operations so that people with disabilities are afforded equal housing opportunities.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
www.hud.gov
(800) 669-9777 (voice) (800) 927-9275 (TTY)

The Telecommunications Act
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible according to guidelines developed by the Access Board. It covers a broad range of products, including telephones, cellular phones, pagers, and fax machines. The Federal Communications Commission enforces requirements of the law.

Federal Communications Commission
www.fcc.gov
(888) 225-5322 (voice) (888) 835-5322 (TTY)

Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines
Access Board
www.access-board.gov
(800) 872-2253 (voice) (800) 993-2822 (TTY)

The Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 prohibits discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities in air travel. The law applies to both domestic and foreign air carriers. Regulations issued by the Department of Transportation under the Act cover a range of issues, including boarding assistance and access features in newly built aircraft.

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Department of Transportation
www.dot.gov/airconsumer
(866) 266-1368 (voice) (866) 754-4368 (TTY)

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act
The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act requires access to polling places used in Federal elections. The law also requires States to make available registration and voting aids, such as instructions in large type.

Voting Section, Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
www.usdoj.gov/crt
(800) 253-3931 (voice/TTY)