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Memorandum

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Subject: INFORMATION: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines and Detectable Warnings

From:
// Original signed by //
Dwight A. Horne
Director, Office of Program Administration

To:
Resource Center Managers
Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Program Engineers

Date: July 30, 2004

Reply to: HIPA-20


The US Access Board, the federal agency responsible for developing accessibility guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), published the ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines (ADA/ABA-AG) on July 23, 2004. The Access Board is charged with developing minimum guidelines to assist the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Justice (DOJ) in establishing design standards. Although the publication of these guidelines marks the completion of the Access Board's responsibilities, these guidelines will not become ADA standards until the Departments of Justice and Transportation go through standard notice-and-comment rulemaking to adopt the new guidelines into the standards they maintain under the ADA, a process which is expected to take one to two years. In the interim, agencies must continue to use current ADA standards -- including those for detectable warnings at curb ramps and blended transitions -- when building new and altering pedestrian facilities. Therefore, there have been no changes to the existing requirements (since July 26, 2001) that detectable warnings must be applied to curb ramps in new construction and alterations.

As part of updating the guidelines, the Access Board is also developing more specific guidelines for public rights-of-way. On June 17, 2002 the Board released a draft of these guidelines for public comment in advance of publishing a proposed rule. Included are provisions for sidewalks, curb ramps, street crossings and related pedestrian facilities that are not addressed in the newly published ADA/ABA-AG. Both FHWA and the Access Board encourage use of the June 17, 2002 draft's scoping and technical provisions for detectable warnings as an equivalent facilitation to the current requirements in the 1991 (current) ADAAG.

USDOT is an implementing agency for the title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and for section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; the FHWA is the USDOT agency responsible for overseeing Title II and 504 compliance for pedestrian access in public rights-of-ways. USDOT is evaluating the ADA/ABA-AG and considering possible changes to USDOT section 504 regulations to reflect current detectable warning requirements until such time as the new public rights-of-way guidelines can be issued. The FHWA MUTCD staff are also pursuing inclusion of detectable warnings in Chapter 3 Markings. NCHRP and FHWA research is also underway to improve truncated dome maintenance and contrast. For more information and resources on detectable warnings, consult the Board's website at www.access-board.gov/adaag/dws/update.htm.

Updated: 02/10/2014
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