A Federal Register notice dated May 23 permits recipients of HUD federal financial assistance to use alternative accessibility standards in order to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity.
HUD’s current Section 504 regulation requires programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance to be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Section 504 regulations consider any design, construction, or alteration of buildings and facilities conforming to the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) to be in compliance with Section 504 statutory requirements.
Many programs or activities subject to Section 504 regulation and UFAS are also subject to Title II or Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II applies to public entities and Title III applies to certain private entities. ADA Title II and Title III require compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 ADA Standards).
When both Section 504 and ADA accessibility standards apply, recipients have had to determine on a section-by-section basis which provided greater accessibility.
UFAS are based on minimum accessibility guidelines developed by the United States Access Board (Access Board) for purposes of compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). In 2004, the Access Board updated minimum accessibility guidelines for both the ADA and the ABA, including updated accessibility provisions in UFAS. In March 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice, which has overall Section 504 coordination responsibilities, advised all federal agencies that they may use the 2010 ADA Standards as an alternative to UFAS until an agency updates its regulation implementing the provisions of Section 504.
The May 23 Federal Register notice now allows, but does not require, HUD recipients to use the 2010 ADA Standards as alternatives to UFAS until HUD revises its Section 504 regulation to formally adopt an updated accessibility standard. However, the notice identifies certain provisions in the 2010 ADA Standards that cannot be used because they provide less accessibility than is currently required by UFAS and/or HUD’s Section 504 regulation.
The May 23 Federal Register notice is at: http://1.usa.gov/1kxCMww