What the new ADA regulations mean to you this Spring!

Mar 22, 2011
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As the weather becomes warmer we spend more time outdoors. If there is a park near you, some of the new ADA regulations may be noticeable. If the new regulations aren’t being followed, you may want to call or email the Park District to find out when they are going to be able to meet the new accessibility rules.

For one thing, you should find that parks and recreation establishments are responding to the first time ever accessibility requirements for swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs and other recreational facilities.

For example: in fitness centers at least one of each type of exercise equipment must be accessible. There must be a forward or a parallel approach to exercise machines. All fitness rooms in which programs are offered to the public must be fully accessible. Large pools must have two ways that people can enter the water: 1) a sloped entry or 2) a pool lift. Smaller pools must have one or the other of these accessible entry methods. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other limited area of entry pools need only one means of access: lift, sloped entry, or transfer system. Hot tubs and wading pools need only one accessible entry method.

“New fishing areas must have an Accessible Route for entry. Significantly wide standards have been written for gangways to fishing piers because the body of water fluctuates in height hourly.  However it is stated that at least 25% of railings, guards, or handrails shall be a maximum 34” above the deck or ground, and the lip on the edge of the deck or walkway must be standard.”

What’s more, going forward, only trained dogs will be eligible for use as service animals. While service dogs can provide a wide range of assistance for people with mental or physical disabilities, they must help with issues directly related to the person’s disability and offer more than “emotional support” under the new rules.

What the new guidelines say is:

…People who are blind or have low vision use dogs to guide and assist them with orientation. Many individuals who are deaf use dogs to alert them to sounds. People with mobility disabilities often use dogs to pull their wheelchairs or retrieve items. People with epilepsy may use a dog to warn them of an imminent seizure, and individuals with psychiatric disabilities may use a dog to remind them to take medication. Service members returning from war with new disabilities are increasingly using service animals to assist them with activities of daily living as they reenter civilian life. Under the ADA, comfort, therapy, or emotional support animals do not meet the definition of a service animal.”

The changes also set standards for the use of wheelchairs versus other mobility devices like Segways, electric golf carts and other new ways of getting around.

The regulations say:

Advances in technology have given rise to new power-driven devices that are not necessarily designed for people with disabilities, but are being used by some people with disabilities for mobility. The term other power-driven mobility devices is used in the revised ADA regulations to refer to any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines, whether or not they are designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion. Such devices include Segways®, golf cars, and other devices designed to operate in non-pedestrian areas. Public accommodations must allow individuals who use these devices to enter their premises unless the business can demonstrate that the particular type of device cannot be accommodated because of legitimate safety requirements. Such safety requirements must be based on actual risks, not on speculation or stereotypes about a particular class of devices or how they will be operated by individuals using them.”

If you are traveling or going to public events you will notice that the new regulations should also make it easier for you to purchase tickets for accessible seating at entertainment venues and more convenient to reserve and check into hotel rooms.

The Justice Department has a Technical Assistance team to assist with understanding and implementing these guidelines. They can be reached at the following contact numbers:

http://www.ada.gov/taprog.htm 800 – 514 – 0301 (voice) 800 – 514 – 0383 (TTY)

You can get a free electronic download of the ADA changes for stores, hotels, etc. at the following address: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm#whoiscovered

You can download the booklet on recreation facilities at:


Author: Tanya

  • http://twitter.com/lizhenry Liz Henry

    The park changes are interesting. I’m wondering what’s new about doctors and dentists’ offices!