Project Fact Sheet

ADA Resources

Last updated: June 30, 2013


We know that keeping up with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be a difficult job. Who has the time to follow all of these?

  • Regulations
  • Design Standards
  • Final Guidelines and Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
  • Federal court decisions
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreements
  • DOJ guidance memos
  • Smart practices from parks and recreation agencies, cities, counties, states, businesses, nonprofits, and federal agencies
  • New products that make access to recreation easier
  • Success stories from parks and recreation agencies, cities, counties, states, businesses, nonprofits, and federal agencies
  • Recreation inclusion process guidance
  • Interpretive guidance from RAC to RAC clients
  • Training opportunities for RAC clients and others, and
  • Funding sources for access and inclusion compliance

It is our plan to help you keep current here by making this website your one-stop shopping for these access and inclusion resources. The links below will take you to federal government sites, businesses, local governments, and nonprofits. Enjoy!

US Access Board
This is the home for the US Access Board. The Access Board is the small federal agency charged with the development of accessibility guidelines, which eventually become a Standard when adopted by DOJ or other federal departments. Guests can read up on guidelines, proposed standards, and register for informative webinars. Visitors may also file a complaint under the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act (the ABA is applicable to federally funded sites), order publications, or just further their knowledge of ADA or ABA.
The Access Board provides excellent technical assistance as well. Call 202/272-0080.
US Department of Justice (DOJ) ADA Office
This is the home of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division ADA Compliance Unit. Like the US Access Board website, visitors can further read standards and guidelines. The DOJ website offers more technical assistance in regards to the standards — more "how to" links — and information than the Access Board website.
US DOJ ADA Helpline
This is a direct link to the ADA helpline. The page provides times and phone numbers for people looking for answers to general or specific ADA questions.
The DOJ technical assistance can be reached at 202/514-0301.
US DOJ Technical Assistance Guides
This is a direct link to free technical assistance guides published by the Department of Justice. Help ranges from event ticket sales to managing small towns.
US DOJ Rights for Service Members with Disabilities
This is a comprehensive guidebook detailing the rights of service members with disabilities. It describes what rights service men and women are entitled to, and what to do if they believe those rights are being infringed. The guidebook covers everything from accommodations at the workplace to program access in the community.
2010 Standards for Accessible Design
Published by US DOJ, the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design improve upon the 1991 standards in many ways. The most obvious of these is the addition of recreation elements such as playgrounds, pools, athletic fields, fitness equipment, and more. But the 2010 standards also incorporate user feedback and makes changes to the 1991 standards and the 2004 final guidelines.
1991 Standards for Accessible Design
The original, groundbreaking 1991 Guidelines for Accessible Design reflected the efforts in many state access codes and guidelines, taking the best of allfor a uniform federal Standard. The idea behind the 1991 guidelines was twofold 1) people who live in states without accessrequirements have the same rights as those people who live in states with access requirements and 2) the minimum requirements should apply universally.
US DOJ Title II subtitle A
Title II requires nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of state and local government services. It governs the work of the 89,004 units of state and local government. As the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design apply to built-in elements such as buildings, play structures, signage, etc., title II applies to policy, program, and the intangible factors of state and local government.
It addresses everything from how city council meetings are conducted, to how county budgets allocate resources, to how parks and recreation departments advertise online and in publications, to how summer recreation programs provide support for learners with disabilities, and to how senior centers include persons with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The first title II regulation was published July 26, 1991 and became effective January 26, 1992. The current regulation was published September 14, 2010 and became effective March 15, 2011.
Title III requires nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and commercial facilities. It applies to the more than 7,000,000 businesses and nonprofits. As the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design apply to built-in elements such as buildings, play structures, signage, etc., title III addresses policy, services, and other intangibles.
US DOJ Project Civic Access Settlement Agreements
Project Civic Access (PCA) is one of the ways in which enforcement of the ADA occurs. A tool of the US DOJ, PCA settlement agreements cover the country from California to Maine and even Puerto Rico.
PCA settlements range from individual buildings to state capitalsto large counties to small villages. A visit from PCA assures that a municipal capital plan, replacement schedule resource allocation, personnel, programs, and policies, are all in strict compliance with title II requirements.
In the Settlement Agreements, communities are generally given a period of time to attain compliance. A Settlement Agreement trend that began in 2011 requires entities to complete an access audit of all existing sites, a task already required by section 35.105 of title II.
The Chicago Community Trust "An ADA Compliance Guide for Nonprofits"
US DOJ Guidance for Small Businesses
There is a ton of grey in the title III regulation. This guidance memo helps small businesses understand and comply with the ADA. It strips away much of the legalese found in the standards and regulations, and is intended only as advice.It also offers many helpful tips that aren't included in the standards, but help business employees maintain accessibility.
US DOJ Guidance for Small Towns and Villages Recognizing that smaller communities have fewer staff and less resources, this guidance memo helps small towns and villages understand and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It strips much of the legalese found in the standards and regulations, and is intended only as an assisting tool. It also offers many helpful tips that aren't included in the standards, but are required of staff to maintain accessibility.
US DOJ Guidance Regarding Common Title II Issues
With more than 89,000 units of state and local government, DOJ has identified several common issues. This guidance memo highlights the issue and solutions.
US DOJ Guidance Regarding Swimming Facilities
In early 2012 privately owned swimming facility operators, such as hotels, questioned the application of the 2010 Standards to pools. This caused DOJ to delay the effective date for existing pools, and in the process, DOJ developed an excellent guide for swimming facilities. The guides for title II and title III entities are attached.
US DOJ Guidance Regarding Online Communication
The Section 508 Standard governs accessible internet communication. Title II requires all local government communication to be accessible. DOJ developed this guide to assist entities in making the ever-growing online communication elements accessible to all.
US DOE Guidance Regarding Sports as a Civil Right for School Students
The US Department of Education, on January 25, 2013, issued a guidance memo to schools across the US. Following earlier findings by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), DOE declares participation in interscholastic sport by students with disabilities a civil right, and notes a belief that students today do not enjoy that right.
At RAC we believe this guidance will create many new opportunities to enjoy the social, athletic, and health benefits of interscholastic activity. Quoting from the guidance:
"In response to the GAO's recommendation, this guidance provides an overview of the obligations of public elementary and secondary schools under Section 504 and the Department's Section 504 regulations, cautions against making decisions based on presumptions and stereotypes, details the specific Section 504 regulations that require students with disabilities to have an equal opportunity for participation in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, and discusses the provision of separate or different athletic opportunities. The specific details of the illustrative examples offered in this guidance are focused on the elementary and secondary school context. Nonetheless, students with disabilities at the postsecondary level must also be provided an equal opportunity to participate in athletics, including intercollegiate, club, and intramural athletics.
The DOE guidance memo relies on the authority of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds.
US DOJ General Questions and Answers ADA Q&A
The US DOJ has compiled a question-and-answer document for common ADA topics. Short and to the point, you may find it helpful.
US Access Board Guidelines in Development
There are still many design guidelines in development. Many of those affect recreation environments. While not yet a final and enforceable standard, we urge entities to know these not-yet-final guidelines, implement them as a smart practice, and follow and comment as these develop. Some federal rulemaking occurs quickly, but the general trend in recreation rulemaking has been a slow pace.
For the progress on shared use paths including the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, see
For the progress on public-rights-of-way including the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this subject, see
For the DRAFT final guideline for federally owned and operated outdoor developed areas such as beaches, campsites, picnic areas, trails, trailheads, viewing areas, and outdoor constructed features, see
Our firm is not a federal or state agency. We do not have enforcement authority, or the authority to draft guidelines or standards. However, seeing the many access successes by local governments, and using our own extensive experience, we would add three guidance memos for your reference. Each was distributed earlier to our clients.
Park Benches
There is little required today by the 2010 Standards and title II for a park bench. However, we believe many smart practices exist, including some outlined in the US Access Board DRAFT final guideline for outdoor developed recreation areas. Read our memo on park benches.
Swimming Facilities
A great ruckus was raised in early 2012 by privately owned swimming facilities regarding the application of the 2010 Standards new requirements for swimming facilities. As a result the application of those requirements to existing swimming facilities was postponed to January 31, 2013. We are well past that, and our guidance memo offers some clarification regarding swimming facilities in general. Read our memo about swimming facilities.
Rescuing Service Animals in the Water
Illinois statutes require licensed pool operators to permit service animals in the swimming facility water if the work of the service animal is directly related to the needs of the person with a disability. This is consistent with the requirements for service animals in both title II and title III.
We believe this common-sense notion will spread to other states. As a result, at some point, it will be necessary to rescue a service animal in a swimming facility. In consultation with water safety experts and animal rescue experts, we drafted a memo to guide in this process. Read our memo about service animals.