The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities and is modeled after earlier landmark laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and gender. To ensure that buildings and facilities are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, the ADA establishes accessibility requirements for State and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities. Under the ADA, the Access Board has developed and continues to maintain design guidelines for accessible buildings and facilities known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). ADAAG covers a wide variety of facilities and establishes minimum requirements for new construction and alterations.

The Board maintains a similar responsibility for accessibility guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The ABA requires access to certain facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds. Like ADAAG, the Board’s ABA accessibility guidelines apply to new construction and alterations.

The Board plans to undertake rulemaking to supplement its ADA and ABA accessibility guidelines, which primarily cover facilities on sites, by adding new provisions specific to public rights-of-way. The Board’s aim is to ensure that access for persons with disabilities is provided wherever a pedestrian way is newly built or altered, and that the same degree of convenience, connection, and safety afforded the public generally is available to pedestrians with disabilities. The guidelines would not require alterations to existing public rights-of-way, but would apply where a pedestrian route or facility is altered as part of a planned project to improve existing public rights-of-way.