To ensure compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), as of March 15, 2012, all newly constructed or altered public facilities must comply with the requirements of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design adopted in July 2010 by the U.S. Department of Justice. The new regulations include design standards that entities covered by Title II or III are subject to when undertaking new construction or alterations. While the new rules went into effect on March 15, 2011, the Department gave Title II and III covered entities an additional year before the new design standards were required.
Local governments are covered by Title II of the ADA. Title II prohibits refusing to allow a person with a disability to participate in a local government service, program, or activity simply because the person has a disability. What do these new rules mean for public entities? All newly constructed or altered facilities or facilities undergoing architectural changes to achieve program accessibility must comply with the new standards linked above. If elements in existing facilities already comply with corresponding elements in the 1991 Standards or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) previously in effect, and those facilities are not being altered, then entities are not required to make changes to those elements to bring them into compliance with the 2010 Standards.
Other changes to Title II which took effect on March 15, 2011 and which affect local governments include: new ticketing requirements for events at covered facilities, service animal definitions, auxiliary aid requirements, and additional requirements for allowing power-driven mobility devices used by disabled individuals. More information on these changes can be found here.