Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504)
The primary purpose of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) program is to ensure that pedestrians with disabilities have opportunity to use the transportation system in an accessible and safe manner. As part of FHWA's regulatory responsibility under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504), the FHWA ensures that recipients of Federal aid and State and local entities that are responsible for roadways and pedestrian facilities do not discriminate on the basis of disability in any highway transportation program, activity, service or benefit they provide to the general public; and to ensure that people with disabilities have equitable opportunities to use the public rights-of-way system.
Laws and regulations require accessible planning, design, and construction to integrate people with disabilities into mainstream society. Further, these laws require that the actions of government highway entities do not discriminate in their programs and activities against persons with disabilities.
Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Public Law 93-112) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federally assisted programs. Section 504 requirements for USDOT administrations are covered under 49 CFR Part 27 (USDOT), Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Financial Assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990, Public Law 101-336) is a broader civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.
The ADA addresses State and local government services, activities and policy making under the Department of Justice's ADA Title II implementing regulations. The ADA, under Title II, Subpart A, covers public rights-of-way. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has rulemaking authority and enforcement responsibility for Title II, while USDOT is legally obligated to implement compliance procedures relating to transportation, including those for highways, streets, and traffic management. The FHWA Office of Civil Rights oversees the DOT requirements in these areas.
Section 504 responsibilities not detailed specifically in Title II of the ADA are: Rest areas on Interstate highways must be accessible; and pedestrian overpasses, underpasses, and ramps constructed with Federal financial assistance must be accessible.
Key FHWA Stewardship/Oversight Responsibilities
- Ensure that FHWA recipients and subrecipients are informed of their responsibilities to provide accessibility in their programs, activities, and facilities (i.e., public rights-of-way).
Ensure that recipients and subrecipients are applying appropriate accessibility standards to all transportation facilities.
- Ensure that all complaints filed under Section 504 or the ADA are processed in accordance with established complaint procedures.
Contacts/phone numbers/email addresses
Director, External Civil Rights Programs
Office of Civil Rights
Design Program Manager
Office of Infrastructure
Civil Rights Policy and Regulations Specialist
The Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC 126)
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act Implementing Regulation (28 CFR 35)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794, et seq).
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Implementing Regulation 49 CFR 27
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
Public Rights-Of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG)
Public Rights-of-Way (PROWAG) Notice of Proposed Rule Making, July 26, 2011
Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)
- FHWA's Oversight Role in Accessibility, September 12, 2006
- Announcement of USDOT Accessibility Regulations: 49 CFR Part 37—Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities: Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 209 / Monday, October 30, 2006 / Rules and Regulations / Page 63263. HTML / PDF
- Notice of availability of the Access Board's November 2005 Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines(PROWAG) Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory, January 23, 2006
- FHWA/FTA Memorandum (September 25, 2000)
FHWA Program Administration Policy on Pedestrians and Accessible Design
- Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access
FHWA's two-part report on pedestrian and trail accessibility.
- Part 1, Review of Existing Guidelines and Practices, lays out the history and the practices of applying accessibility concepts to sidewalks and pedestrian trails. (Out of print, available online only)
- Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide, provides recommendations on how to design sidewalks, street crossings, intersections, shared use paths, and recreational pedestrian trails. See also Transmittal Memorandum, Detectable Warnings Memorandum (July 2004), Detectable Warnings Memorandum (May 2002), and Errata Sheet.
- Detectable Warnings Memorandum (July 30, 2004)
Detectable Warnings Memorandum (May 6, 2002)
FHWA and the US Access Board encourage the use of the latest recommended design for truncated domes.
- Accessible Pedestrian Signals
- Synthesis and Guide to Best Practices Website – this website provides overall information on installation criteria and design considerations.
- Synthesis and Guide to Best Practices Article – this article provides the latest recommended technical specifications for installing accessible pedestrian signals.
- Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations(US Access Board – July 2007
- ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments (US Department of Justice – 2007)
- FHWA memo – Clarification of FHWA's Oversight Role in Accessibility, September 12, 2006
- AASHTO Guide for Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities
- Architectural Barriers Act (ABA - originated 1968)
- Civil Rights Restoration Act (1987)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990), as Amended
- US Department of Justice's 2010 Title II ADA Regulation (2010): 28 CFR Part 35
U.S. Department of Justice's ADA website
U.S. Access Board
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Civil Rights
The Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC)