Major changes to the ADA

A variety of new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, affecting everything from service animals to accessible design standards, went into effect March 15.

The regulations require, for the first time, accessibility standards for swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs and other recreational facilities, according to an article in Disability Scoop. The standards were modified to be consistent with the “federal standards implementing the Architectural Barriers Act and with the private sector model codes that are adopted by most States.”

Under the new regulations, government-run facilities and private businesses will now only be required to accommodate service animals for people with disabilities if the service animal is a dog or, in some situations, miniature horses. Previously, there was no restriction on the type of service animal.

There are no restrictions on the type of service animal in situations where the animal is required for employment, or in homes or on airlines.

The ADA also distinguishes between service animals, those trained to perform a specific function, and animals that provide merely emotional support. The training requirement remains for accommodations in government-run facilities and private businesses.

New distinctions are also made between accessibility standards for wheelchairs, which must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use, and other “power-driven mobility devices,” which can be limited in some situations where the setting must be fundamentally altered or there is a direct threat or hazard. Regulations providing guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating also went into effect.