July 27, 2010

President Obama

"To advance opportunity and prosperity for all of our people, to constantly expand the meaning of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, to move America forward - That's what we did with the ADA.  That is what we do today.  And that's what we're going to do tomorrow - together.

President Barack Obama


At a ceremony on the south lawn of the White House celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Barack Obama announced the release of updated regulations and standards by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other administrative initiatives to promote equality for people with disabilities.

"Today, the Department of Justice is publishing two new rules prohibiting disability-based discrimination," the President noted, "and beginning 18 months from now, all new buildings must be constructed in a way that's compliant with the new 2010 standards for the design of doors and windows and elevators and bathrooms -- buildings like stores and restaurants and schools and stadiums and hospitals and hotels and theaters."

The DOJ regulations update ADA standards governing the construction and alteration of facilities covered by the ADA, including places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.  The new standards are based on revised minimum guidelines previously established by the Access Board that include supplements for certain types of facilities and sites not addressed before. "For the very first time, these rules will cover recreational facilities like amusement parks and marinas and gyms and golf facilities and swimming pools, and municipal facilities like courtrooms and prisons," Obama stated.

DOJ's regulations allow covered entities the choice of following either the updated standards or the original standards during the first 18 months.  After this period of time, use of the 2010 standards will become mandatory.  In setting the effective dates, DOJ sought to allow sufficient time for transitioning to the updated standards so as not to disrupt design and construction projects already underway.   DOJ's new rules also revise or supplement other sections of its ADA regulations, including those covering existing facilities, service animals, policies and programs, maintenance of accessible features, auxiliary aids and services, and effective communication.  The new rules and additional information are available on DOJ's ADA website.

Other Administration Initiatives

President Obama also noted other initiatives to advance the ADA and equal opportunity for people with disabilities, including:

  • Additional DOJ notices to improve access to websites, movie theaters, 911 emergency services, and equipment and furniture
  • A new executive order, which President Obama signed at the ADA celebration, to establish the Federal government as a model employer of individuals with disabilities
  • Expansion of broadband internet access for people with disabilities
  • Creation of three new disability offices at the State Department, the Department of Transportation, and Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • The U.S. signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and pursuing its ratification by Congress
  • Efforts to improve independent living by launching the "Year of Community Living" and enforcement of the Olmstead decision which declared involuntary institutional isolation unlawful
  • And initiatives to improve access to affordable housing, community supports, and health care.

A transcript of the President's remarks and a video of the White House celebration are available on the White House website.