The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) are design requirements developed under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for facilities designed, built, or altered with Federal funds. UFAS contains requirements for new construction and alterations, including scoping provisions, which indicate what has to be accessible, and technical provisions, which specify how access is achieved. The Access Board develops and maintains the guidelines upon which UFAS is based. In 1984, UFAS became the enforceable standard under the ABA upon its adoption by four standard-setting agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the General Services Administration, and the U.S. Postal Service.
Under the ABA, UFAS applies to Federally-funded design, construction, or alterations. Currently, UFAS also may be used by state or local government entities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in new construction or alterations. Regulations issued by the Department of Justice under the ADA allow state or local government entities a choice between UFAS or the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), which were issued for the private sector.
Like most federal regulations, UFAS and the Boards guidelines its based on were developed under a rulemaking process that invites public comment through publication in the Federal Register. Note that any changes or updates the Board makes to its guidelines do not become enforceable until they are adopted by the standard-setting agencies.
Enforcement of UFAS depends on the law it is used under. Under the ABA, the Federal entities have an obligation to follow UFAS as facilities are designed, constructed, or altered with Federal funds. The Board is responsible for enforcing the ABA and does so through the investigation of complaints. [link to enforcement] State and local governments currently can choose to use UFAS under the ADA,. Because the ADA is civil rights law, enforcement of its design requirements are not overseen by a local building code official. Enforcement of these requirements, and other provisions of the law, are enforced through private suit or by certain Federal agencies when discrimination is alleged.
UFAS has not changed substantively since it was issued in 1984. A 1988 reprint, which the Board makes available, is basically the same as the original.
The Board has revised the guidelines upon which UFAS is based. One goal of this update is to make these guidelines and those issued under the ADA more consistent. As a result, this update will be proposed jointly with a new ADAAG.