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Appendix F--Summary of Accessibility Legislation, Standards, and Guidelines

Some Laws Governing Accessibility in the United States

Laws for Federal Agencies

A 1968 law--the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)--requires that facilities built, bought, rented, or leased by or on behalf of a Federal agency must be accessible. A 1973 law--Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act--requires provision of equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to participate in all Federal or federally funded programs and activities. A 1990 law--the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)--does not apply to Federal agency programs and facilities, except for Title V Section 507, which pertains to federally designated wilderness areas.

The 1994 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation--7 CFR 15b and 15e--is the USDA's implementation of Section 504. It specifies requirements for ensuring the accessibility of programs and activities conducted by or for USDA agencies. Other agencies have similar specific requirements. More information is available at:

Laws for the Private Sector and State and Local Governments

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in public accommodations, businesses open to the public, and commercial transportation in the private sector and in State and local government. This law includes requirements for accessible programs, new construction, renovation, transportation, and telecommunications, as well as reasonable accommodation for employment. The ADA is modeled on the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Information about the ADA is available at

Guidelines and Standards Resulting From These Laws

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (also known as the U.S. Access Board or Access Board) is responsible for establishing and maintaining guidelines to ensure that new or altered buildings and facilities covered by the ABA and ADA are accessible to people with disabilities. On July 23, 2004, the Access Board updated the ABA and ADA guidelines to make them more consistent and easier to understand.

The ADA guidelines are the basis for standards adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The ABA guidelines are the basis for enforceable standards issued by four standard-setting Federal agencies--the Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The USDA, including the Forest Service, follows standards set by the GSA.

On November 8, 2005, the GSA adopted portions of the ABA guidelines as the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABAAS). For construction or alteration of federally-owned facilities addressed by the ABAAS, compliance depends on the date construction or alteration began.

If construction or alteration began after May 8, 2006, compliance with the ABAAS is required. If construction or alteration began on or before May 8, 2006, compliance with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) is required.

Information about the ADA and ABA guidelines is available at

Other Relevant Guidelines

The Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG) provide guidance for campsites, tent pads and platforms, viewing overlooks, outdoor showers, picnic tables, fire rings and grills, and toilets as well as other facilities in the National Forest System. The Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG) provide the specific information needed to maximize accessibility, while protecting the resource on newly constructed or altered pathways or trails that are designed for pedestrian or hiker use. The FSORAG and FSTAG provide guidance for maximizing accessibility while recognizing and protecting the unique characteristics of the natural setting and the resources. Information about the FSORAG and FSTAG is available at

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Updated: 4/14/2014
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