[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 117 (Tuesday, June 17, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34508-34557]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-12623]


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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

28 CFR Part 36

[CRT Docket No. 106; AG Order No. 2968-2008]
RIN 1190-AA44


Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public 
Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities

AGENCY: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Justice (Department) is issuing this notice 
of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in order to: Adopt enforceable 
accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 
1990 (ADA) that are ``consistent with the minimum guidelines and 
requirements issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers 
Compliance Board'' (Access Board); and perform periodic reviews of any 
rule judged to have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities, and a regulatory assessment of the costs and 
benefits of any significant regulatory action as required by the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
    In this NPRM, the Department proposes to adopt Parts I and III of 
the Americans With Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act 
Accessibility Guidelines (2004 ADAAG), which were published by the 
Architectural and Transportation Barriers and Compliance Board (Access 
Board) on July 23, 2004. Prior to its adoption by the Department, the 
2004 ADAAG is effective only as guidance to the Department; it has no 
legal effect on the public until the Department issues a final rule 
adopting

[[Page 34509]]

the revised ADA Standards (proposed standards).
    Concurrently with the publication of this NPRM, the Department is 
publishing an NPRM to amend its title II regulation, which covers state 
and local government entities, in order to adopt the 2004 ADAAG as its 
proposed standards for title II entities, to make amendments to the 
title II regulation for consistency with title III, and to make 
amendments that reflect the collective experience of 16 years of 
enforcement of the ADA.

DATES: All comments must be received by August 18, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Submit electronic comments and other data to http://
www.regulations.gov. Address written comments concerning this NPRM to: 
ADA NPRM, P.O. Box 2846, Fairfax, VA 22031-0846. Overnight deliveries 
should be sent to the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, 
U.S. Department of Justice, located at 1425 New York Avenue, NW., Suite 
4039, Washington, DC 20005. All comments will be made available for 
public viewing online at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janet L. Blizard, Deputy Chief, 
Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of 
Justice, at (202) 307-0663 (voice or TTY). This is not a toll-free 
number. Information may also be obtained from the Department's toll-
free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 
(TTY).
    This rule is also available in an accessible format on the ADA Home 
Page at http://www.ada.gov. You may obtain copies of this rule in large 
print or on computer disk by calling the ADA Information Line listed 
above.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Submission and Posting of Public Comments

    You may submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. 
When submitting comments electronically, you must include CRT Docket 
No. 106 in the subject box, and you must include your full name and 
address.
    Please note that all comments received are considered part of the 
public record and made available for public inspection online at http:/
/www.regulations.gov. Such information includes personal identifying 
information (such as your name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by 
the commenter.
    If you want to submit personal identifying information (such as 
your name, address, etc.) as part of your comment, but do not want it 
to be posted online, you must include the phrase ``PERSONAL IDENTIFYING 
INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also 
locate all the personal identifying information you do not want posted 
online in the first paragraph of your comment and identify information 
you want redacted.
    If you want to submit confidential business information as part of 
your comment but do not want it posted online, you must include the 
phrase ``CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph of 
your comment. You must also prominently identify confidential business 
information to be redacted within the comment. If a comment has so much 
confidential business information that it cannot be effectively 
redacted, all or part of that comment may not be posted on http://
www.regulations.gov.
    Personal identifying information identified and located as set 
forth above will be placed in the agency's public docket file, but not 
posted online. Confidential business information identified and located 
as set forth above will not be placed in the public docket file. If you 
wish to inspect the agency's public docket file in person by 
appointment, please see the ``FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT'' 
paragraph.

Overview

    Throughout this NPRM, the current, legally enforceable ADA 
Standards will be referred to as the ``1991 Standards,'' 28 CFR part 
36, App. A, 56 FR 35544 (July 26, 1991), modified in part at 59 FR 2674 
(Jan. 18, 1994). The Access Board's 2004 revised guidelines will be 
referred to as the ``2004 ADAAG,'' 69 FR 44084 (July 23, 2004), as 
amended (editorial changes only) at 70 FR 45283 (Aug. 5, 2005). The 
revisions now proposed in the NPRM, based on the 2004 ADAAG, are 
referred to in the preamble as the ``proposed standards.''
    In performing the required, periodic review of its existing 
regulation, the Department has reviewed the title III regulation 
section by section, and, as a result, proposes several clarifications 
and amendments in this NPRM. The Department's initial, formal benefit-
cost analysis can be found at Appendix B. See E.O. 12866, 58 FR 51735 
(Sept. 30, 1993), amended by E.O. 13258, 67 FR 9385 (Feb. 26, 2002), 
and E.O. 13422, 72 FR 2703 (Jan. 18, 2007); 5 U.S.C. 601, 603, and 
610(a); and OMB Circular A-4, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/
a004/a-4.pdf. The NPRM was submitted to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, for review 
and approval prior to publication in the Federal Register. It has also 
been reviewed by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy 
pursuant to Executive Order 13272, 67 FR 53461 (Aug. 13, 2002).

Purpose

    On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the 
Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., a 
comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis 
of disability. At the beginning of his administration, President George 
W. Bush underscored the nation's commitment to ensuring the rights of 
over fifty million individuals with disabilities nationwide by 
announcing the New Freedom Initiative (available at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom). The Access Board's publication 
of the 2004 ADAAG is the culmination of a long-term effort to 
facilitate ADA compliance and enforcement by eliminating, to the extent 
possible, inconsistencies among federal accessibility requirements and 
between federal accessibility requirements and state and local building 
codes. In support of this effort, the Department is announcing its 
intention to adopt standards consistent with Parts I and III of the 
2004 ADAAG as the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. To facilitate 
this process, the Department is seeking public comment on the issues 
discussed in this notice.

The ADA and Department of Justice Regulations

    The ADA broadly protects the rights of individuals with 
disabilities in employment, access to state and local government 
services, places of public accommodation, transportation, and other 
important areas of American life and, in addition, requires newly 
designed and constructed or altered state and local government 
facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be 
readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. 42 
U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Under the ADA, the Department is responsible for 
issuing regulations to implement title II and title III of the Act, 
except to the extent that transportation providers subject to title II 
or title III are regulated by the Department of Transportation. Id. at 
12134.
    The Department also is proposing amendments to its title II 
regulation, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability 
in state and local government services, concurrently with the 
publication of this NPRM, in this issue of the Federal Register.

[[Page 34510]]

    Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in 
the activities of places of public accommodation (businesses that are 
generally open to the public and that fall into one of twelve 
categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, 
schools, day care facilities, recreational facilities, and doctors' 
offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public 
accommodation--as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, 
nonresidential facilities like factories, warehouses, or office 
buildings)--to comply with the ADA Standards. 42 U.S.C. 12181-89.
    On July 26, 1991, the Department issued its final rules 
implementing title II and title III, which are codified at 28 CFR part 
35 (title II) and part 36 (title III). Appendix A of the title III 
regulation, at 28 CFR part 36, contains the 1991 Standards, which were 
based upon the version of ADAAG published by the Access Board on the 
same date. Under the Department's regulation implementing title III, 
places of public accommodation and commercial facilities are currently 
required to comply with the 1991 Standards with respect to newly 
constructed or altered facilities.

Relationship to Other Laws

    The Department of Justice regulation implementing title III, 28 CFR 
36.103, provides:

    (a) Rule of interpretation. Except as otherwise provided in this 
part, this part shall not be construed to apply a lesser standard 
than the standards applied under title V of the Rehabilitation Act 
of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 791 et seq., or the regulations issued by federal 
agencies pursuant to that title.
    (b) Section 504. This part does not affect the obligations of a 
recipient of federal financial assistance to comply with the 
requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 
U.S.C. 794, and regulations issued by federal agencies implementing 
section 504.
    (c) Other laws. This part does not invalidate or limit the 
remedies, rights, and procedures of any other federal, state, or 
local laws (including state common law) that provide greater or 
equal protection for the rights of individuals with disabilities or 
individuals associated with them.

    Nothing in this proposed rule will alter this relationship. The 
Department recognizes that public accommodations subject to title III 
of the ADA may also be subject to title I of the ADA, which prohibits 
discrimination on the basis of disability in employment; section 504, 
which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the 
programs and activities of recipients of federal financial assistance; 
and other federal statutes such as the Air Carrier Access Act, 49 
U.S.C. 41705, and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq. 
Compliance with the Department's ADA regulations does not necessarily 
ensure compliance with other federal statutes.
    Public accommodations that are subject both to the Department's 
regulations and to regulations published by other federal agencies must 
ensure that they comply with the requirements of both regulations. If 
there is a direct conflict between the regulations, the regulation that 
provides greater accessibility will prevail. When different statutes 
apply to entities that routinely interact, each entity must follow the 
regulation that specifically applies to it. For example, a quick 
service restaurant in an airport is a public accommodation subject to 
title III. It regularly serves the passengers of air carriers subject 
to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The restaurant is subject to the 
title III requirements, not to the ACAA requirements. Conversely, the 
airline is required to comply with the ACAA, not with the ADA.

The Roles of the Access Board and the Department of Justice

    The Access Board was established by section 502 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 29 U.S.C. 792. The Board consists of 
thirteen public members appointed by the President, of whom the 
majority must be individuals with disabilities, and the heads of twelve 
federal departments and agencies specified by statute, including the 
heads of the Department of Justice and the Department of 
Transportation. Originally, the Access Board was established to develop 
and maintain accessibility guidelines for federally funded facilities 
under the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA). 42 U.S.C. 4151 et 
seq. The passage of the ADA expanded the Access Board's 
responsibilities. The ADA requires the Access Board to ``issue minimum 
guidelines that shall supplement the existing Minimum Guidelines and 
Requirements for Accessible Design for purposes of subchapters II and 
III of this chapter * * * to ensure that buildings, facilities, rail 
passenger cars, and vehicles are accessible, in terms of architecture 
and design, transportation, and communication, to individuals with 
disabilities.'' 42 U.S.C. 12204. The ADA requires the Department to 
issue regulations that include enforceable accessibility standards 
applicable to facilities subject to title II or title III that are 
consistent with the minimum guidelines issued by the Access Board. Id. 
at 12134, 12186.
    The Department was extensively involved in the development of the 
2004 ADAAG. As a federal member of the Access Board, the Attorney 
General's representative voted to approve the revised guidelines. 
Although the enforceable standards issued by the Department under title 
II and title III must be consistent with the minimum guidelines 
published by the Access Board, it is the sole responsibility of the 
Attorney General to promulgate standards and to interpret and enforce 
those standards.
    The ADA also requires the Department to develop regulations with 
respect to existing facilities subject to title II (Subtitle A) and 
title III. How and to what extent the Access Board's guidelines are 
used with respect to the barrier removal requirement applicable to 
existing facilities under title III of the ADA and to the provision of 
program accessibility under title II of the ADA are solely within the 
discretion of the Department.

The Revised Guidelines (2004 ADAAG)

    Part I of the 2004 ADAAG provides scoping requirements for 
facilities subject to the ADA; scoping is a term used in the 2004 ADAAG 
to describe requirements (set out in Parts I and II) that prescribe 
what elements and spaces--and, in some cases, how many--must comply 
with the technical specifications. Part II provides scoping (which is 
defined in the preamble of title 2) requirements for facilities subject 
to the ABA (i.e., facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with 
federal funds). Part III provides uniform technical specifications for 
facilities subject to either statute. This revised format is designed 
to eliminate unintended conflicts between the two federal accessibility 
standards and to minimize conflicts between the federal regulations and 
the model codes that form the basis of many state and local building 
codes.
    The 2004 ADAAG is the culmination of a ten-year effort to improve 
ADA compliance and enforcement. In 1994, the Access Board began the 
process of updating the original ADAAG by establishing an advisory 
committee composed of members of the design and construction industry, 
the building code community, state and local government entities, and 
people with disabilities. In 1999, based largely on the report and 
recommendations of the advisory committee,\1\ the Access Board issued a 
proposed rule to update and revise its ADA and ABA Accessibility 
Guidelines.

[[Page 34511]]

See 64 FR 62248 (Nov. 16, 1999). In response to its proposed rule, the 
Access Board received more than 2,500 comments from individuals with 
disabilities, affected industries, state and local governments, and 
others. The Access Board provided further opportunity for participation 
by holding public hearings throughout the nation. The Access Board 
worked vigorously from the beginning to harmonize the ADA and ABA 
Accessibility Guidelines with industry standards and model codes. The 
Access Board released an interim draft of its guidelines to the public 
on April 2, 2002, 67 FR 15509, in order to provide an opportunity for 
entities with model codes to consider amendments that would promote 
further harmonization. By the date of its final publication on July 23, 
2004, 69 FR 44084, the 2004 ADAAG had been the subject of extraordinary 
public participation and review.
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    \1\ After a two-year process of collaboration with the access 
Board, the Advisory Committee issued its Recommendations for a New 
ADAAG in September 1996, available at http://www.access-board.gov/
pubs.htm.
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    In addition, the Access Board amended the ADAAG four times since 
1998. In 1998, it added specific guidelines on state and local 
government facilities, 63 FR 2000 (Jan. 13, 1998), and building 
elements designed for use by children, 63 FR 2060 (Jan. 13, 1998). 
Subsequently, the Access Board added specific guidelines on play areas, 
65 FR 62498 (Oct. 18, 2000), and on recreational facilities 67 FR 56352 
(Sept. 3, 2002).
    These amendments to the ADAAG have not previously been adopted by 
the Department as ADA Standards. Through this NPRM, the Department is 
announcing its intention to publish a proposed rule that will adopt 
revised ADA Standards consistent with the 2004 ADAAG, including all of 
the amendments to the ADAAG since 1998.

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    The Department published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
(ANPRM) on September 30, 2004, 69 FR 58768, for two reasons: (1) To 
begin the process of adopting the Access Board's 2004 ADAAG by 
soliciting public input on issues relating to the potential application 
of the Access Board's revisions once the Department adopts them as 
revised standards; and (2) to request background information that would 
assist the Department in preparing a regulatory analysis under the 
guidance provided in OMB Circular A-4, available at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a004/a-4.pdf, Sections D (Analytical 
Approaches) and E (Identifying and Measuring Benefits and Costs). While 
underscoring that the Department, as a member of the Access Board, had 
already reviewed comments provided to the Access Board during its 
development of the 2004 ADAAG, the Department specifically requested 
public comment on the potential application of the 2004 ADAAG to 
existing facilities. The extent to which the 2004 ADAAG is used with 
respect to the barrier removal requirement applicable to existing 
facilities under title III (like the program access requirement in 
title II) is solely within the discretion of the Department. The ANPRM 
dealt with the Department's responsibilities under both title II and 
title III.
    Public response to the ANPRM was extraordinary. The Department 
extended the comment deadline by four months at the public's request. 
70 FR 2992 (Jan. 19, 2005). By the end of the extended comment period, 
the Department had received more than 900 comments covering a broad 
range of issues. Most of the comments responded to questions 
specifically posed by the Department, including issues involving the 
application of the 2004 ADAAG once the Department adopts it and cost 
information to assist the Department in its regulatory assessment. The 
public provided information on how to assess the cost of elements in 
small facilities, office buildings, hotels and motels, assembly areas, 
hospitals and long-term care facilities, residential units, 
recreational facilities, and play areas. Comments addressed the 
effective date of the proposed standards, the triggering event by which 
the effective date is measured in new construction, and variations on a 
safe harbor that would excuse elements built in compliance with the 
1991 Standards from compliance with the proposed standards. Comments 
responded to questions regarding elements scoped for the ``first time'' 
in the 2004 ADAAG, including detention and correctional facilities, 
recreational facilities, and play areas, as well as proposed additions 
to the Department's regulation for items such as free-standing 
equipment. Comments also dealt with specific requirements in the 2004 
ADAAG.
    Many commenters requested clarification of or changes to the 
Department's title III regulation. Commenters observed that now, more 
than seventeen years after enactment of the ADA, as facilities are 
becoming physically accessible to individuals with disabilities, the 
Department needs to focus on second generation issues that ensure that 
individuals with disabilities can actually gain access to and use the 
accessible elements. So, for example, commenters asked the Department 
to focus on such issues as ticketing in assembly areas and reservations 
for hotel rooms, rental cars, and boat slips. The public asked about 
captioning and the division of responsibility between the Department 
and the Access Board for fixed and non-fixed (or free-standing) 
equipment. Finally, commenters asked for clarification on some issues 
in the existing regulations, such as title III's requirements regarding 
service animals.
    All of the issues raised in the public comments are addressed, in 
turn, in this NPRM or in the NPRM for title II. Issues involving title 
II of the ADA, such as the exhaustion of administrative remedies under 
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. 1997e et seq., are 
addressed in the Department's NPRM for title II, in this issue of the 
Federal Register, published concurrently with this NPRM.

Background (SBREFA, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Executive Order) 
Reviews

    The Department must provide two types of assessments as part of its 
NPRM: an analysis of the costs and benefits of adopting the 2004 ADAAG 
as its proposed standards, and a periodic review of its existing 
regulations to consider their impact on small entities, including small 
businesses, small nonprofit organizations, and small governmental 
jurisdictions. E.O. 12866, 58 FR 51735 (Sept. 30, 1993), as amended by 
E.O. 13258, 67 FR 9385 (Feb. 26, 2002) and E.O. 13422, 72 FR 2763 (Jan. 
18, 2007); Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601, 603, as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (SBREFA), 5 U.S.C. 610(a); OMB Circular A-4, http://
www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a004/a-4.pdf; and E.O. 13272, 67 FR 
53461 (Aug. 13, 2002).
    The Department leaves open the possibility that, as a result of the 
receipt of comments on an issue raised by the 2004 ADAAG, or if the 
Department's Regulatory Impact Analysis reveals that the costs of 
making a particular feature or facility accessible are disproportionate 
to the benefits to persons with disabilities, the Attorney General, as 
a member of the Access Board, may return the issue to the Access Board 
for further consideration of the particular feature or facility. In 
such a case, the Department would delay adoption of the accessibility 
requirement for the particular feature or facility in question in its 
final rule and await Access Board action before moving to consider any 
final action.

[[Page 34512]]

    Regulatory Impact Analysis. An initial regulatory impact analysis 
of the costs and benefits of a proposed rule is required by Executive 
Order 12866 (as amended by Executive Order 13258 and Executive Order 
13422). A full benefit-cost analysis is required of any regulatory 
action that is deemed to be significant--that is, a regulation that 
will have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy. See 
OMB Circular A-4; Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601, 
603, as amended by SBREFA, 5 U.S.C. 610(a).
    Early in the rulemaking process, the Department concluded that the 
economic impact of its adoption of the 2004 ADAAG as proposed standards 
for title II and title III was likely to exceed the threshold for 
significant regulatory actions of $100 million. The Department has 
completed its initial regulatory impact analysis measuring the 
incremental benefits and costs of the proposed standards; the initial 
regulatory impact analysis is addressed at length with responses to 
public comments from the ANPRM, in Appendix B.
    The public may notice differences between the Department's 
regulatory impact analysis and the Access Board's regulatory assessment 
of the 2004 ADAAG. The differences in framework and approach result 
from the differing postures and responsibilities of the Department and 
the Access Board. First, the breadth of the proposed changes assessed 
in Appendix A of this NPRM is greater than in the Access Board's 
assessments related to the 2004 ADAAG. Unlike the Access Board, the 
Department must examine the effect of the proposed standards not only 
on newly constructed or altered facilities, but also on existing 
facilities. Second, whereas the Access Board issued separate rules for 
many of the differences between the 1991 Standards and the 2004 ADAAG 
(e.g., play areas and recreational facilities), the Department is 
proposing to adopt several years of revisions in a single rulemaking.
    According to the Department's initial Regulatory Impact Analysis 
(``RIA''), it is estimated that the incremental cost of the proposed 
requirements for each of the following eight existing elements will 
exceed monetized benefits by more than $100 million when using the 1991 
Standards as the comparative baseline: Side reach; water closet 
clearances in single-user toilet rooms with in-swinging doors; stairs; 
elevators; location of accessible routes to stages; accessible attorney 
areas and witness stands; assistive listening systems; and accessible 
teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters at golf courses. 
However, this baseline figure does not take into account the fact that, 
since 1991, various model codes and consensus standards--such as the 
model International Building Codes (``IBC'') published by the 
International Codes Council and the consensus accessibility standards 
developed by the American National Standards Institute (``ANSI'')--have 
been adopted by a majority of states (in whole or in part) and that 
these codes have provisions mirroring the substance of the Department's 
proposed regulations. Indeed, such regulatory overlap is intentional 
since harmonization among federal accessibility standards, state and 
local building codes, and model codes, is one of the goals of the 
Department's rulemaking efforts.
    Even though the 1991 Standards are an appropriate baseline to 
compare the new requirements against, since they represent the current 
set of uniform federal regulations governing accessibility, in practice 
it is likely that many public and private facilities across the country 
are already being built or altered in compliance with the Department's 
proposed standards with respect to these elements. Because the model 
codes are voluntary, public entities often modify or carve out 
particular standards when adopting them into their laws, and even when 
the standards are the same, local officials often interpret them 
differently. The mere fact that a state or local government has adopted 
a version of the IBC does not necessarily mean that the facilities 
within that jurisdiction are legally subject to its accessibility 
provisions. Because of these complications, and the inherent difficulty 
of determining which baseline is the most appropriate for each 
provision, the RIA accompanying this rulemaking compares the costs and 
benefits of the proposed requirements to several alternative baselines, 
which reflect various versions of existing building codes. In addition, 
since the Department is soliciting comment on these eight particular 
provisions with high net costs, the Department believes it is useful to 
further discuss the potential impact of alternative baselines on these 
particular provisions.
    For example, the Department's proposed standards for existing 
stairs and elevators have identical counterparts in one or more IBC 
versions (2000, 2003, or 2006). Please note, however, that the IBC 2006 
version bases a number of its provisions on guidelines in the 2004 
ADAAG. These IBC versions, in turn, have been adopted collectively by 
forty-six (46) states and the District of Columbia on a statewide 
basis. In the four (4) remaining states (Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, 
and Mississippi), while IBC adoption is left to the discretion of local 
jurisdictions, the vast majority of these local jurisdictions have 
elected to adopt IBC as their local code. Thus, given that nearly all 
jurisdictions in the country currently enforce a version of the IBC as 
their building code, and to the extent that the IBC building codes may 
be settled in this area and would not be further modified to be 
consistent if they differ from the final version of these regulations, 
the incremental costs and benefits attributable to the Department's 
proposed regulations governing alterations to existing stairs and 
elevators may be less significant than the RIA suggests over the life 
of the regulation.
    In a similar vein, consideration of an alternate IBC/ANSI baseline 
would also likely lower the incremental costs and benefits for five 
other proposed standards (side reach; water closet clearances in 
single-user toilet rooms with in-swinging doors; location of accessible 
routes to stages; accessible attorney areas and witness stands; and 
assistive listening systems), albeit to a lesser extent. Each of these 
proposed standards has a counterpart in either Chapter 11 of one or 
more versions of the IBC, ANSI A117.1, or a functionally equivalent 
state accessibility code. While IBC Chapter 11 and ANSI A117.1 have yet 
not been as widely adopted as some other IBC chapters, the RIA 
nonetheless still estimates that between 15% and 35% of facilities 
nationwide are already covered by IBC/A117.1 provisions that mirror 
these five proposed standards. It is thus expected that the incremental 
costs and benefits for these proposed standards may also be lower than 
the costs and benefits relative to the 1991 Standards baseline.
    Question 1: The Department believes it would be useful to solicit 
input from the public to inform us on the anticipated costs or benefits 
for certain requirements. The Department therefore invites comment as 
to what the actual costs and benefits would be for these eight existing 
elements, in particular as applied to alterations, in compliance with 
the proposed regulations (side reach, water closet clearances in 
single-user toilet rooms with in-swinging doors, stairs, elevators, 
location of accessible routes to stages, accessible attorney areas and 
witness stands, assistive listening systems, and accessible teeing 
grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters at golf courses), as well 
as additional practical benefits from these

[[Page 34513]]

requirements, which are often difficult to adequately monetize.
    The Department does not have statutory authority to modify the 2004 
ADAAG; instead, the ADA requires the Attorney General to issue 
regulations implementing the ADA that are ``consistent with'' the ADA 
Accessibility Guidelines issued by the Access Board. See 42 U.S.C. 
12134(c), 12186(c). As noted above in other parts of this preamble, the 
Department leaves open the possibility of seeking further consideration 
by the Access Board of particular issues based on disproportionate 
costs compared to benefits and public comments. The Access Board did 
not have the benefit of our RIA or public comment on our RIA as it 
pertains to the 2004 ADAAG.
    Question 2: The Department would welcome comment on whether any of 
the proposed standards for these eight areas (side reach, water closet 
clearances in single-user toilet rooms with in-swinging doors, stairs, 
elevators, location of accessible routes to stages, accessible attorney 
areas and witness stands, assistive listening systems, and accessible 
teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters at golf courses) 
should be raised with the Access Board for further consideration, in 
particular as applied to alterations.
    Stages. The proposed requirement to provide direct access to stages 
represents an effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities are 
able to participate in programs in an integrated setting. Under the 
current 1991 Standards, a compliant accessible route connecting seating 
locations to performing areas is permitted to go outside the assembly 
area and make use of an indirect interior accessible route to access 
the stage area. As a result, even when other audience members are able 
to access a stage directly via stairs in order to participate in 
ceremonies, skits, or other interactive on-stage events, persons with 
mobility disabilities may be required to use an inconvenient indirect 
entrance to the stage. As graduates or award recipients, they may be 
required to part company with their peers, to make their way to the 
stage alone, and to make a conspicuous entrance. To address this 
situation, the proposed requirement mandates that, when a direct 
circulation path (for audience members) connects the seating area to a 
stage, the accessible route to the stage must also be direct.
    The Department has generally determined that the overall costs for 
this requirement are relatively high in the alterations context, due to 
the expense of having to provide a lift or ramp to access the stage 
area directly, regardless of which baseline is used for the analysis. 
The Department, however, has had difficulty in estimating the real 
costs of this requirement because of a lack of information about 
whether colleges, elementary and secondary schools, and entertainment 
venues now routinely provide such access when they are altering 
existing auditoriums or how frequently such alterations occur. Also, 
the Department currently lacks sufficient data or other sources with 
which to quantify the benefits that accrue to students and other 
persons with disabilities who, as a result of direct access to stages, 
would be able to participate fully and equally in graduation exercises 
and other events.
    Question 3: The Department would welcome information from operators 
of auditoriums on the likelihood that their auditoriums will be altered 
in the next fifteen years, and, if so, whether such alterations are 
likely to include accessible and direct access to stages. In addition, 
the Department would like specific information on whether, because of 
local law or policy, auditorium operators are already providing a 
direct accessible route to their stages. (The Department is also 
interested in whether having to provide a direct access to the stage 
would encourage operators of auditoriums to postpone or cancel the 
alteration of their facilities.) The Department also seeks information 
on possible means of quantifying the benefits that accrue to persons 
with disabilities from this proposed requirement or on its importance 
to them. To the extent that such information cannot be quantified, the 
Department welcomes examples of personal or anecdotal experience that 
illustrate the value of this requirement.
    The Department's RIA also estimates significant costs, regardless 
of the baseline used, for the proposed requirement that court 
facilities must provide an accessible route to a witness stand or 
attorney area and clear floor space to accommodate a wheelchair. These 
costs arise both in the new construction and alteration contexts. If 
the witness stand is raised, then either a ramp or lift must be 
provided to ensure access to the witness stand. While the RIA 
quantifies the benefits for this proposed requirement (as it does for 
all of the proposed requirements) primarily in terms of time savings, 
the Department fully appreciates that such a methodology does not 
capture the intangible benefits that accrue when persons with mobility 
disabilities are able to participate in the court process as 
conveniently as any other witness or party. Without access to the 
witness stand, for example, a wheelchair user, or a witness who uses 
other mobility devices such as a walker or crutches, may have to sit at 
floor level. If the witness with a mobility disability testifies from a 
floor level position, the witness could be placed at a disadvantage in 
communicating with the judge and jury who may no longer be able to see 
the witness as easily, or, potentially at all. This may create a 
reciprocal difficulty for the judge and jurors who lose the sightline 
normally provided by the raised witness stand that enables them to see 
and hear the witness in order to evaluate his or her demeanor and 
credibility--difficulty that redounds to the detriment of litigants 
themselves and ultimately our system of justice.
    Question 4: The Department welcomes comment on how to measure or 
quantify the intangible benefits that would accrue from accessible 
witness stands. We particularly invite anecdotal accounts of the 
courtroom experiences of individuals with disabilities who have 
encountered inaccessible witness stands, as well as the experiences of 
state and local governments in making witness stands accessible, either 
in the new construction or alteration context.
    Under the 1991 Standards, Assistive Listening Systems (``ALS'') are 
required in courtrooms and in other settings where audible 
communication is integral to the use of the space and audio 
amplification systems are provided for the general audience. However, 
these Standards do not set forth technical specifications for such 
systems. Since 1991, advancements in ALS and the advent of digital 
technologies have made these systems more amenable to uniform technical 
specifications. In keeping with these technological advancements, the 
revised requirements create a technical standard that, among other 
things, ensures that a certain percentage of required ALS have hearing-
aid compatible receivers. Requiring hearing-aid compatible ALS enables 
persons who are hard of hearing to hear a speech, a play, a movie, or 
to follow the content of a trial. Without an effective ALS, people with 
hearing loss are effectively excluded from participation because they 
are unable to hear or understand the audible portion of the 
presentation.
    From an economic perspective, the cost of a single hearing-aid 
compliant ALS is not high--about $500 more than a non-compliant 
system--and compliant equipment is readily available on the retail 
market. As estimated in the RIA, the high overall costs for the revised 
technical requirements for ALS are instead driven by the assumption 
that entities with large assembly areas (such

[[Page 34514]]

as universities, stadiums, and auditoriums) will be required to 
purchase a relatively large number of compliant systems. On the other 
hand, the overall scoping for ALS has been reduced in the Department's 
proposed requirement, thus mitigating the cost to covered entities. The 
proposed revision to the technical requirement merely specifies that 
(25% or at least 2) of the required ALS receivers must be hearing-aid 
compatible. The RIA estimates that a significant part of the cost of 
this requirement will come from the replacement of individual ALS 
receivers and system maintenance.
    Question 5: The Department seeks information from arena and 
assembly area administrators on their experiences in managing ALS. In 
order to evaluate the accuracy of the assumptions in the RIA relating 
to ALS costs, the Department welcomes particular information on the 
life expectancy of ALS equipment and the cost of ongoing maintenance.
    The Department's proposed requirements mandate an accessible 
(pedestrian) route that connects all accessible elements within the 
boundary of the golf course and facility, including teeing grounds, 
putting greens, and weather shelters. Requiring access to necessary 
features of a golf course ensures that persons with mobility 
disabilities may fully and equally participate in a recreational 
activity.
    From an economic perspective, the Department's RIA assumes that 
virtually every tee and putting green on an existing course will need 
to be regraded in order to provide compliant accessible (pedestrian) 
routes to these features. However, the Department's proposal also 
excuses compliance with the requirement for an accessible (pedestrian) 
route so long as a ``golf car passage'' (i.e., the path typically used 
by golf cars) is otherwise provided to the teeing ground, putting 
green, or other accessible element on a course. Because it is likely 
that most public and private golf courses in the United States already 
provide golf passages to most or all holes, the actual costs of this 
requirement for owners and operators of existing golf courses should be 
reduced with little to no practical loss in accessibility.
    Question 6: The Department seeks information from the owners and 
operators of golf courses, both public and private, on the extent to 
which their courses already have golf car passages to teeing grounds, 
putting greens, and weather shelters, and, if so, whether they intend 
to avail themselves of the proposed exception.
    Analysis of impact on small entities. The second type of analysis 
that the Department has undertaken is a review of its existing 
regulations for title II and title III in order to consider the impact 
of those regulations on small entities. The review requires agencies to 
consider five factors: (1) The continued need for the rule; (2) the 
nature of complaints or comments received concerning the rule from the 
public; (3) the complexity of the rule; (4) the extent to which the 
rule overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other federal rules, and, 
to the extent feasible, with state and local governmental rules; and 
(5) the length of time since the rule has been evaluated or the degree 
to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed 
in the area affected by the rule. 5 U.S.C. 610(b). Based on these 
factors, the agency should determine whether to continue the rule 
without change, or to amend or rescind the rule to minimize any 
significant economic impact of the rule on a substantial number of 
small entities. Id. at 610(a).
    In performing this review, the Department has gone through its 
regulation section by section, and, as a result, proposes several 
clarifications and amendments in this NPRM. Amendments to its title II 
regulation are proposed in the NPRM for title II published concurrently 
with this rule. The proposals reflect the Department's analysis and 
review of complaints or comments from the public as well as changes in 
technology. Many of the proposals aim to clarify and simplify the 
obligations of covered entities. As discussed in greater detail above, 
a significant goal in the development of the 2004 ADAAG was to 
eliminate duplication or overlap in federal accessibility guidelines as 
well as to harmonize the federal guidelines with model codes. The 
Department has also worked to create harmony where appropriate between 
the requirements of titles II and III. Finally, while the regulation is 
required by statute and there is a continued need for it as a whole, 
the Department proposes several modifications that are intended to 
reduce its effects on small entities.

Organization of This NPRM

    The subsequent sections of this NPRM deal with the Department's 
response to comments and its proposals for changes to its current 
regulation that derive from the required, periodic review that it 
performed. The proposed standards and the Department's response to 
comments regarding the 2004 ADAAG are contained in Appendix A to the 
NPRM. Appendix B to the NPRM contains the Department's initial, formal 
benefit-cost analysis.
    The section of the NPRM entitled, ``General Issues,'' briefly 
introduces topics that are noteworthy because they are new to the title 
III regulation or have been the subject of attention or comment. The 
topics introduced in the general issues section include: safe harbor 
and other proposed limitations on barrier removal, service animals, 
equipment, wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices, 
auxiliary aids and services (including captioning and video 
interpreting services), and certification of state and local building 
codes.
    Following the ``General Issues'' section, there is a section 
entitled, ``Section-By-Section Analysis and Response to Comments.'' 
This section provides a detailed discussion of the proposed changes to 
the title III regulation. The section-by-section analysis follows the 
order of the current regulation, except that regulatory sections that 
remain unchanged are not indicated. The discussion within each section 
explains the proposals and the reasoning behind them, as well as the 
Department's response to related public comments. Subject areas that 
deal with more than one section of the regulation include references to 
the related sections, where appropriate.
    Both the ``General Issues'' section and the ``Section-By-Section 
Analysis'' include specific questions to which the Department requests 
public response. These questions are numbered and italicized so that 
they are easier for readers to locate and reference. The Department 
emphasizes, however, that the public may comment on any aspect of this 
NPRM and is not required to respond solely to questions specifically 
posed by the Department.
    The Department's proposed changes to the actual regulatory text of 
title III, that follow the section-by-section analysis are entitled, 
``Part 36: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public 
Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities.''

General Issues

    This section briefly introduces topics that are noteworthy because 
they are new to the title III regulation or have been the subject of 
considerable attention or comment. Each topic is discussed subsequently 
in the section-by-section analysis.
    Safe harbor and other proposed limitations on barrier removal. One 
of the most important issues that the Department must address is the 
effect that supplemental or changed ADA Standards will have on the 
continuing

[[Page 34515]]

obligation of public accommodations to remove architectural, 
transportation, and communication barriers in existing facilities to 
the extent that it is readily achievable to do so. This issue was not 
addressed in the 2004 ADAAG because it was outside the scope of the 
Access Board's authority under the ADA. Responsibility for implementing 
title III's requirement that public accommodations eliminate existing 
architectural barriers where it is readily achievable to do so rests 
solely with the Department.
    The Department's current regulation implementing title III of the 
ADA establishes the requirements for barrier removal by public 
accommodations. 28 CFR 36.304. Under this requirement, the Department 
uses the 1991 Standards as a guide to identify what constitutes an 
architectural barrier, as well as the specifications that covered 
entities must follow in making architectural changes to the extent that 
it is readily achievable. 28 CFR part 36, App. B. Once adopted, 
therefore, the 2004 ADAAG will present a new reference point for title 
III's requirement to remove architectural barriers in existing places 
of public accommodation. The Department is concerned that the 
incremental changes in the 2004 ADAAG may place unnecessary cost 
burdens on businesses that have already removed barriers by complying 
with the 1991 Standards in their existing facilities.
    The Department seeks to strike an appropriate balance between 
ensuring that people with disabilities are provided access to buildings 
and facilities and potential financial burdens on existing places of 
public accommodation under their continuing obligation for barrier 
removal. Such a balance would not impose unnecessary financial burdens 
on existing places of public accommodation.
    The Department's ANPRM raised several options that might reduce 
such financial burdens. One approach, described in the ANPRM as Option 
I, is to establish a safe harbor with regard to elements in existing 
facilities that comply with the scoping and technical provisions in the 
1991 Standards. Specifically, the Department would deem that public 
accommodations have met their obligation for barrier removal with 
respect to any element in an existing facility if that element complies 
with the scoping and technical requirements in the 1991 Standards. 
Another possible approach--Option II in the ANPRM--is to reduce the 
scoping requirements for some of the supplemental or changed 
requirements as they apply to existing facilities (e.g., play areas and 
recreational facilities). Option III in the ANPRM proposed the 
exemption of certain elements in the proposed standards; under this 
option, the Department would determine that certain supplemental 
requirements are inappropriate for barrier removal. After reviewing the 
public comments on the ANPRM, the Department has decided to propose a 
combination of Options I and II. The specific proposals are addressed 
in the discussion of barrier removal in the section-by-section analysis 
of Sec.  36.304 below.
    The Department is not proposing to adopt Option III. Instead, in 
keeping with its obligations under the SBREFA to consider regulatory 
alternatives, the Department is seeking public comment on an 
alternative suggested by advocates for small business. Under this 
alternative, the Department would revamp its approach to barrier 
removal that is readily achievable as applied to ``qualified small 
business'' entities, which are defined in Sec.  36.104.
    Small business advocates argued for clearer guidance on when 
barrier removal is, and is not, readily achievable. According to the 
small business advocacy groups, the Department's current approach to 
readily achievable barrier removal disproportionately affects small 
businesses for the following reasons: (1) Small businesses are more 
likely to operate in older buildings and facilities; (2) the 1991 
Standards are too numerous and technical for most small business owners 
to understand and then to square with the ADA requirements with state 
and local building or accessibility codes; and (3) small businesses are 
particularly vulnerable to title III litigation and are often compelled 
to settle because they cannot afford the litigation costs involved in 
proving whether an action is readily achievable. Advocates for small 
business endorsed many of the proposals in the ANPRM, such as the safe 
harbor and reduced scoping for some elements.
    The proposed standards will go a long way toward meeting the 
concern of small businesses with regard to harmonizing federal and 
state requirements; the Access Board harmonized the 2004 ADAAG with the 
model codes that form the basis of most state and local accessibility 
codes. Still, the Department is proposing that a qualified small 
business is presumed to have done what is readily achievable in a given 
year if, in the prior tax year, it spent a fixed percentage of its 
revenues on readily achievable barrier removal. The Department believes 
that the efficacy of any such proposal will turn on two determinations: 
(1) The definition of a qualified small business, and (2) the formula 
for calculating what percentage of revenues should be sufficient to 
satisfy the readily achievable presumption. The Department discusses 
its proposal for safe harbor and reduced scoping requirements in the 
section-by-section analysis of Sec.  36.304.
    The Department invites comment on whether public accommodations 
that operate existing facilities with play or recreation areas should 
be exempted from compliance with certain requirements in the 2004 
ADAAG. Existing facilities would continue to be subject to 
accessibility requirements in existing law, but not specifically to the 
requirements in: (1) The Access Board's supplemental guidelines on play 
areas, 65 FR 62498 (Oct. 18, 2000); and (2) the Access Board's 
supplemental guidelines on recreation facilities, 67 FR 56352 (Sept. 3, 
2002). Under that scenario, the 2004 ADAAG would apply only to new play 
areas and recreation facilities, and would not govern the accessibility 
of existing facilities as legal requirements. Public accommodations 
that operate existing facilities with play or recreation areas, 
pursuant to the ADA's requirements to provide equal opportunity for 
individuals with disabilities, may still have the obligation to provide 
an accessible route to the playground, some accessible equipment, and 
an accessible surface for the play area or recreation facility.
    Question 7: Should the Department exempt owners and operators of 
public accommodations from specific compliance with the supplemental 
requirements for play areas and recreation facilities, and instead 
continue to determine accessibility in these facilities on a case-by-
case basis under existing law? Please provide information on the effect 
of such a proposal on people with disabilities and places of public 
accommodation.
    Service animals. The Department wishes to clarify the obligations 
of public accommodations to accommodate individuals with disabilities 
who use service animals. The Department continues to receive a large 
number of complaints from individuals with service animals. It appears 
that many covered entities are confused regarding their obligations 
under the ADA with regard to individuals with disabilities who use 
service animals. At the same time, some individuals with impairments--
who would not be covered as individuals with disabilities--are claiming 
that their animals are legitimate service animals, whether fraudulently 
or sincerely (albeit mistakenly), to gain access to hotels,

[[Page 34516]]

restaurants, and other places of public accommodation. Another trend is 
the use of wild, exotic, or unusual species, many of which are 
untrained, as service animals. The Department is proposing amendments 
to its regulation on service animals in the hope of mitigating the 
apparent confusion.
    Minimal protection. In the Department's ADA Business Brief on 
Service Animals, which was published in 2002, the Department 
interpreted the minimal protection language within the context of a 
seizure (i.e., alerting and protecting a person who is having a 
seizure). Although the Department received comments urging it to 
eliminate the minimal protection language, the Department continues to 
believe that it should retain the ``providing minimal protection'' 
language and interpret the language to exclude so-called ``attack 
dogs'' that pose a direct threat to others.
    Guidance on permissible service animals. In the original regulation 
implementing title III, ``service animal'' was defined as ``any guide 
dog, signal dog, or other animal,'' and the Department believed, at the 
time, that leaving the species selection up to the discretion of the 
person with a disability was the best course of action. Due to the 
proliferation of animals used by individuals, including wild animals, 
the Department believes that this area needs some parameters. 
Therefore, the Department is proposing to eliminate certain species 
from coverage even if the other elements of the definition are 
satisfied.
    Comfort animals vs. psychiatric service animals. Under the 
Department's present regulatory language, some individuals and entities 
have assumed that the requirement that service animals must be 
individually trained to do work or perform tasks excluded all 
individuals with mental disabilities from having service animals. 
Others have assumed that any person with a psychiatric condition whose 
pet provided comfort to them was covered by the ADA. The Department 
believes that psychiatric service animals that are trained to do work 
or perform a task (e.g., reminding its owner to take medicine) for 
individuals whose disability is covered by the ADA are protected by the 
Department's present regulatory approach.
    Psychiatric service animals can be trained to perform a variety of 
tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of 
psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Tasks performed by 
psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take 
medicine; providing safety checks, or room searches, or turning on 
lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; interrupting 
self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders; and 
keeping disoriented individuals from danger.
    The Department is proposing new regulatory text in Sec.  36.104 to 
formalize its position on emotional support/comfort animals, which is 
that ``[a]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, 
comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote 
emotional well-being are not service animals.'' The Department wishes 
to state, however, that the exclusion of emotional support animals from 
ADA coverage does not mean that individuals with psychiatric, 
cognitive, or mental disabilities cannot use service animals. The 
Department proposes specific regulatory text in Sec.  36.104 to make 
this clear: ``The term service animal includes individually trained 
animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals 
with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental 
disabilities.'' This language simply clarifies the Department's 
longstanding position and is not a new position.
    The Department's rule is based on the assumption that the title II 
and title III regulations govern a wider range of public settings than 
the settings that allow for emotional support animals. The Department 
recognizes, however, that there are situations not governed exclusively 
by the title II and title III regulations, particularly in the context 
of residential settings and employment, where there may be compelling 
reasons to permit the use of animals whose presence provides emotional 
support to a person with a disability. Accordingly, other federal 
agency regulations governing those situations may appropriately provide 
for increased access for animals other than service animals.
    Modification in policies, practices, or procedures. The preamble to 
Sec.  36.302 of the current title III regulation states that the 
regulatory language was intended to provide the ``broadest feasible 
access'' to individuals with service animals while acknowledging that, 
in rare circumstances, accommodating service animals may not be 
required if it would result in a fundamental alteration of the nature 
of the goods or services the public accommodation provides or the safe 
operation of the public accommodation. 56 FR 35544, 35565 (July 26, 
1991). In order to clarify this provision, the Department is 
incorporating into the proposed regulation guidance that it has 
provided previously through technical assistance.
    Proposed training standards. The Department has always required 
that service animals be individually trained to do work or perform 
tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, but has never 
imposed any type of formal training requirements or certification 
process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this 
position, the Department does not believe such a modification would 
serve the array of individuals with disabilities who use service 
animals.
    Detailed regulatory text changes and the Department's response to 
public comments on these issues and others are discussed below in the 
definition section, Sec.  36.104, and the section on modifications in 
policies, practices, and procedures, Sec.  36.302(c).
    Equipment and furniture. In question seven of the ANPRM, the 
Department asked for comment on whether regulatory guidance is needed 
with respect to the acquisition and use of free-standing equipment or 
furnishings used by covered entities to provide services, and asked for 
specific examples of the circumstances in which such equipment should 
be addressed. The ANPRM explained that free-standing equipment was 
already addressed in the regulation in several different contexts, but 
because covered entities continue to raise questions about their 
obligations to provide accessible free-standing equipment, the 
Department was considering adding specific language on equipment. The 
Department received comments both in favor and against new guidance on 
accessible equipment and furniture, but has decided not to add any 
specific regulation governing equipment at this time.
    Many businesses were opposed to additional requirements for free-
standing equipment, although they favored a move toward clarity and 
specificity. Some businesses were concerned that they lack control of 
the design or manufacturing of such equipment.
    Most organizations and individuals representing individuals with 
disabilities were in favor of adding or clarifying requirements for 
accessible equipment. Disability organizations pointed out that from 
the user's perspective, it is not relevant whether the equipment (e.g., 
ATMs, vending machines) is free-standing or fixed, because the 
equipment must be accessible in order for individuals with disabilities 
to use it.
    A specific point of concern to several commenters was inaccessible 
aisles

[[Page 34517]]

between movable display racks in stores. The Department's current 
regulation addresses this issue under barrier removal, requiring that 
stores rearrange display racks when readily achievable but adding the 
following exception to Sec.  36.304(f): ``The rearrangement of 
temporary or movable structures, such as furniture, equipment, and 
display racks is not readily achievable to the extent that it results 
in a significant loss of selling or serving space.'' If the 
rearrangement of display racks is not readily achievable, stores still 
have an obligation to provide alternatives to barrier removal, such as 
retrieving merchandise from inaccessible shelves or racks. 28 CFR 
36.305(b)(2).
    When the title III regulation was initially proposed in 1991, it 
contained a provision concerning accessible equipment, which required 
that newly purchased furniture or equipment that was made available for 
use at a place of public accommodation be accessible, unless complying 
with this requirement would fundamentally alter the goods, services, 
facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered, or would 
not be readily achievable. See 56 FR 7452, 7470-71 (Feb. 22, 1991). In 
the final title III regulation promulgated in 1991, the Department 
decided not to include this provision, explaining in the preamble to 
the regulation that ``its requirements are more properly addressed 
under other sections, and . . . there are currently no appropriate 
accessibility standards addressing many types of furniture and 
equipment.'' 56 FR 35544, 35572 (July 26, 1991).
    Equipment has been covered under the Department's ADA regulation, 
including under the provision requiring modifications in policies, 
practices, and procedures and the provision requiring barrier removal, 
even though there is no provision specifically addressing equipment. 
See 28 CFR 36.302, 36.304. If a person with a disability does not have 
full and equal access to a covered entity's services because of the 
lack of accessible equipment, the entity must provide that equipment, 
unless doing so would be a fundamental alteration or would not be 
readily achievable.
    The Department has decided to continue with this approach, and not 
to add any specific regulatory guidance addressing equipment at this 
time. It intends to analyze the economic impact of future regulations 
governing specific types of free-standing equipment. The 2004 ADAAG 
includes revised requirements for some types of fixed equipment that 
are specifically addressed in the 1991 Standards, such as ATMs and 
vending machines, as well as detailed requirements for fixed equipment 
that is not addressed by name in the current Standards, such as 
depositories, change machines, and fuel dispensers. Because the 2004 
ADAAG provides detailed requirements for many types of fixed equipment, 
covered entities may apply those requirements to analogous free-
standing equipment to ensure that they are accessible, and to avoid 
potential liability for discrimination. The Department also believes 
that when federal guidance for accessibility exists for equipment 
required to be accessible to individuals who are blind or have low 
vision, entities should consult such guidance (e.g., federal standards 
implementing section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 36 CFR part 1194, 
or the guidelines that specify communication accessibility for ATMs and 
fare card machines in the 2004 ADAAG, 36 CFR part 1191, App. D). With 
regard to the specific issue of display racks in stores, the Department 
does not propose to change the approach in the current regulation. The 
tension between access for individuals with disabilities and loss of 
selling space caused by the arrangement of the racks within the store 
is the same whether the store is newly constructed or an existing 
facility. The existing approach appropriately balances the needs of 
businesses and individuals with disabilities.
    Accessible golf cars. Question six of the ANPRM asked whether golf 
courses should be required to make at least one, and possibly two, 
specialized golf cars available for the use of individuals with 
disabilities with no greater advance notice than that required of other 
golfers. The ANPRM also asked about the safety of such cars and their 
potential for damaging golf course greens. Accessible golf cars are 
designed for use by individuals with mobility disabilities and are 
operated using hand controls. An individual with a disability can hit a 
golf ball while remaining in the seat of an accessible golf car. Some 
accessible golf cars have a swivel, elevated seat that allows the 
golfer to play from a semi-standing position. Accessible golf cars can 
be used by individuals without disabilities as well. The Department 
received many comments on the subject of accessible golf cars 
(approximately one quarter of all comments received), the majority of 
which favored a requirement for accessible golf cars. However, the 
Department has decided not to add a regulation specifically addressing 
accessible golf cars at this time.
    Comments in support of requiring courses to provide accessible golf 
cars came from individuals both with and without disabilities. These 
commenters generally supported having one, two, or multiple cars per 
course. A number of comments stressed the social aspect of golf, 
generally, and its specific importance in many business transactions. 
Most commenters believed that no advance notice should be required to 
reserve an accessible golf car. Some golf course owners argued that a 
requirement for advance reservation of an accessible golf car might 
allow them to develop pooling arrangements with other courses.
    In response to the Department's questions regarding the safety of 
accessible golf cars, most commenters stated that the accessible cars 
are safe, do not damage the greens, and speed up the pace of play. Some 
commenters expressed concern about the safety of accessible golf cars, 
arguing either that the cars should pass the American National 
Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for traditional golf cars,\2\ or 
that accessible cars should not be required until there are applicable 
safety standards. Comments from golf courses with experience in 
providing accessible golf cars were generally positive in terms of the 
cars' safety and the impact on maintenance of the greens and the 
course.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ ANSI Z130.1-1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As the Department requested, the public also addressed the issue of 
whether a golf course that does not provide standard golf cars should 
offer accessible cars. One commenter explained that the courses that do 
not provide golf cars are often shorter length courses, such as 
``executive'' or nine-hole courses, and that individuals with 
disabilities who are learning to play golf, or who might not have the 
stamina to play eighteen holes, would be more likely to use these 
courses. Thus, accessible golf cars should be available at these 
courses. This commenter pointed out that one executive course that had 
no traditional--but two accessible--cars made money on the single-user 
cars because individuals with and without disabilities wanted to use 
them.
    The Department also received comments opposing a requirement to 
provide accessible golf cars from some golf course owners, 
associations, and individuals. Those opposing such a requirement argued 
that there was little demand for accessible golf cars, or that the 
problem could be solved by putting ``medical flags'' on traditional 
golf cars. Such flags might identify cars that were permitted to have 
wider use of the course. Other commenters stated that accessible golf 
cars were too expensive

[[Page 34518]]

or were specialized equipment that individuals with disabilities should 
purchase for themselves.
    Like some individuals with disabilities, some commenters who 
opposed a requirement for accessible golf cars also expressed concern 
about the lack of safety standards. There were also concerns that 
repair costs for greens or for accessible golf cars would be more 
significant than with traditional golf cars. One commenter suggested 
that courses exceeding certain slope and degree standards be exempted 
from having single-user cars. Others argued that, in practice, the 
safety issue and the issue of damage to courses are negligible.
    The Department has decided not to add a regulation specifically 
addressing accessible golf cars at this time. As with free-standing 
equipment, the Department believes that the existing regulation is 
adequate to address this issue. The Department may gain additional 
guidance in the future from the experience of the Department of 
Defense, which is planning to provide two accessible golf cars at each 
of the 174 golf courses that the Department of Defense operates, except 
those at which it would be unsafe to operate such golf cars because of 
the terrain of the course. See U.S. Department of Defense, Report to 
Congress: Access of Disabled Persons to Morale, Recreation, and Welfare 
(MRW) Facilities and Activities (Sept. 25, 2007).
    Wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices. Since the 
passage of the ADA, choices of mobility aids available to individuals 
with disabilities have vastly increased. In addition to devices such as 
wheelchairs and mobility scooters, individuals with disabilities may 
use devices that are not designed primarily for use by individuals with 
disabilities, such as electronic personal assistive mobility devices 
(EPAMDs). (The only available model known to the Department is the 
Segway[supreg].) The Department has received complaints and become 
aware of situations where individuals with mobility disabilities have 
utilized riding lawn mowers, golf cars, large wheelchairs with rubber 
tracks, gasoline-powered, two-wheeled scooters, and other devices for 
locomotion in pedestrian areas. These new or adapted mobility aids 
benefit individuals with disabilities, but also present new challenges 
for public accommodations and commercial facilities.
    EPAMDs illustrate some of the challenges posed by new mobility 
devices. The basic Segway[supreg] model is a two-wheeled, 
gyroscopically stabilized, battery-powered personal transportation 
device. The user stands on a platform suspended three inches off the 
ground by wheels on each side, grasps a T-shaped handle, and steers the 
device similarly to a bicycle. The EPAMD can travel up to 12\1/2\ miles 
per hour, compared to the average pedestrian walking speed of 3 to 4 
miles per hour and the approximate maximum speed for power-operated 
wheelchairs of 6 miles per hour. In a study of trail and other 
nonmotorized transportation users including EPAMDs, the Federal Highway 
Administration (FHWA) found that the eye height of people using EPAMDs 
ranged from 68\1/4\ inches to 79\1/2\ inches. See Federal Highway 
Administration, Characteristics of Emerging Road and Trail Users and 
Their Safety (Oct. 2004), available at http://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/
pubs/04103. Thus, EPAMDs can operate at much greater speeds than 
wheelchairs, and the average user is much taller than most wheelchair 
users.
    EPAMDs have been the subject of debate among users, pedestrians, 
disability advocates, state and local governments, businesses, and 
bicyclists. The fact that the device is not designed primarily for use 
by or marketed primarily to individuals with disabilities, nor used 
primarily by persons with disabilities, complicates the question of 
whether individuals with disabilities should be allowed to operate them 
in areas and facilities where other powered devices are not allowed. 
Those who question the use of EPAMDs in pedestrian areas argue that the 
speed, size, and operating features of the devices make them too 
dangerous to operate alongside pedestrians and wheelchair users. 
Although the question of their safety has not been resolved, many 
states have passed legislation addressing EPAMD operation on sidewalks, 
bicycle paths, and roads. In addition, some states, such as Iowa and 
Oregon, have minimum age requirements, or mandatory helmet laws. New 
Jersey requires helmets for all EPAMD users, while Hawaii and 
Pennsylvania require helmets for users under a certain age.
    While there may be legitimate safety issues for EPAMD users and 
bystanders, EPAMDs and other non-traditional mobility devices can 
deliver real benefits to individuals with disabilities. For example, 
individuals with severe respiratory conditions who can walk limited 
distances and individuals with multiple sclerosis have reported 
benefitting significantly from EPAMDs. Such individuals often find that 
EPAMDs are more comfortable and easier to use than more traditional 
mobility devices and assist with balance, circulation, and digestion in 
ways that wheelchairs do not. See Rachel Metz, Disabled Embrace Segway, 
New York Times, Oct. 14, 2004.
    The Department has received questions and complaints from 
individuals with disabilities and covered entities about which mobility 
aids must be accommodated and under what circumstances. While some 
individuals with disabilities support the use of unique mobility 
devices, other individuals with disabilities are concerned about their 
personal safety when others are using such devices. There is also 
concern about the impact of such mobility devices on facilities, such 
as the weight of the device on fragile floor surfaces.
    The Department intends to address these issues and proposes to 
adopt a policy that sets the parameters for when these devices must be 
accommodated. Toward that end, the Department proposes new definitions 
of the terms ``wheelchair''--which includes manually and power-driven 
wheelchairs and mobility scooters--and ``other power-driven mobility 
device'' and accompanying regulatory text. The proposed definitions are 
discussed in the section-by-section analysis of Sec.  36.104, and the 
proposed regulatory text is discussed in the section-by-section 
analysis of Sec.  36.311.
    Much of the debate surrounding mobility aids has centered on 
appropriate definitions for the terms ``wheelchair'' and ``other power-
driven mobility devices.'' The Department has not defined the term 
``manually powered mobility aids.'' Instead, the proposed rule provides 
a list including wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, braces, or 
similar devices. The inclusion of the term ``similar devices'' 
indicates that the list is not intended to be exhaustive. The 
Department would like input as to whether addressing ``manually powered 
mobility aids'' in this manner (i.e., via examples of such devices) is 
appropriate. The Department also would like information as to whether 
there are any other non-powered or manually powered mobility aids that 
should be added to the list and an explanation of the reasons they 
should be included. If an actual definition is preferred, the 
Department would welcome input with regard to the language that might 
be used to define ``manually powered mobility aids,'' and an 
explanation of the reasons this language would better serve the public.
    Auxiliary aids and services: captioning and video interpreting 
services. Section 36.303 of the title III regulation requires a public

[[Page 34519]]

accommodation to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no 
individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated, 
or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the 
absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation 
can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the 
nature of the goods, services, facilities, advantages, or 
accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden. 
Implicit in this duty to provide auxiliary aids and services is the 
underlying obligation of a public accommodation to communicate 
effectively with its customers, clients, patients, or participants who 
have disabilities affecting hearing, vision, or speech, and their 
companions.
    The Department has investigated hundreds of complaints alleging 
that public accommodations have failed to provide effective 
communication, many of which have resulted in settlement agreements and 
consent decrees. During the course of its investigations, the 
Department has determined that public accommodations sometimes 
misunderstand the scope of their obligations under the statute and the 
regulation. Moreover, the number of individuals with hearing loss 
continues to grow in this country as a large segment of the population 
ages and as people live longer.
    The Department is proposing several changes to Sec.  36.303 to 
update the regulatory language in response to numerous technological 
advances and breakthroughs in the area of auxiliary aids and services 
since the regulation was promulgated sixteen years ago. The most 
significant changes are in the language regarding video interpreting 
services and the provision of effective communication for companions. 
In addition, the Department is discussing in its preamble to Sec.  
36.303 options for adding captioning and narrative description that may 
eventually result in proposed textual changes. The specific amendments 
are described below in Sec.  36.303 of the section-by-section analysis.
    Certification. The current title III regulation provides that state 
or local governments may apply to the Department for certification that 
state laws or local building codes comply with or exceed the minimum 
accessibility requirements of the ADA. The current submission 
requirements and certification process, however, have proved onerous 
for state and local governments and for the Department. Many have urged 
the Department to streamline the certification process and make it less 
cumbersome for state and local jurisdictions.
    In keeping with the Department's efforts to clarify legal 
obligations under the ADA and harmonize requirements with other federal 
laws and model codes, the proposed rule includes amendments to subpart 
F (Sec. Sec.  36.601-36.608) to streamline the certification process. 
The proposed changes are intended to provide more flexibility in the 
certification process and shorten the overall time involved. The 
Department believes that the adoption of the 2004 ADAAG will help 
achieve these goals because it has been further harmonized with model 
codes. The specific changes to subpart F are described below in the 
section-by-section analysis.

Section-By-Section Analysis and Response to Comments

    This section provides a detailed description of the Department's 
proposed changes to the title III regulation, the reasoning behind the 
proposals, and responses to public comments received on the topic. The 
section-by-section analysis follows the order of the title III 
regulation itself, except that if the Department is not proposing a 
change to a regulation section, the unchanged section is not mentioned.

Subpart A--General

Section 36.104 Definitions

``1991 Standards'' and ``2004 ADAAG''
    The Department is proposing to add to the proposed regulation 
definitions of both the ``1991 Standards'' and the ``2004 ADAAG.'' The 
term ``1991 Standards'' refers to the currently enforceable ADA 
Standards for Accessible Design, codified at 28 CFR part 36, App. A. 
The term ``2004 ADAAG'' refers to Parts I and III of the Americans with 
Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility 
Guidelines, which were issued by the Architectural and Transportation 
Barriers Compliance Board on July 23, 2004, at 69 FR 44084 (to be 
codified at 36 CFR 1191), and which the Department is proposing to 
adopt in this NPRM. These terms are included in the definitions section 
for ease of reference.
``Existing Facility''
    Under the ADA, a facility is initially classified as one of three 
types: (1) An existing facility; (2) an altered facility; or (3) a 
newly designed and constructed facility. In the current regulation, 
title III defines new construction at Sec.  36.401(a) and alterations 
at Sec.  36.402. In contrast, the term ``existing facility'' is not 
defined, although it is used in the statute and the regulations for 
titles II and III. 42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv); 28 CFR 35.150.
    The Department's enforcement of the ADA is premised on a broad 
understanding of ``existing facility.'' The classifications of 
facilities under the ADA regulation are not static. Rather, a building 
that was newly designed and constructed at one time--and therefore 
subject to the accessibility standards in effect at the time--becomes 
an ``existing facility'' after it is completed. At some point in its 
life, it may also be considered ``altered'' and then again become 
``existing.''
    The added definition of ``existing facility'' in the proposed 
regulation clarifies that the term means exactly what it says: A 
facility in existence on any given date is an existing facility under 
the ADA. If a facility exists, it is an existing facility whether it 
was built in 1989, 1999, or 2009.
``Other Power-Driven Mobility Device''
    The proposed regulation defines the term ``other power-driven 
mobility device'' as ``any of a large range of devices powered by 
batteries, fuel, or other engines--whether or not designed solely for 
use by individuals with mobility impairments--that are used by 
individuals with mobility impairments for the purpose of locomotion, 
including golf carts, bicycles, electronic personal assistance mobility 
devices (EPAMDs) (e.g., Segway[supreg]), or any mobility aid designed 
to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes.'' The definition 
is designed to be broad and inclusive because the Department recognizes 
the diverse needs and preferences of individuals with disabilities and 
does not wish to impede individual choice except when necessary. Power-
driven mobility devices are included in this category. Mobility aids 
that are designed for areas or conditions without defined pedestrian 
areas, such as off-road bike paths, roads (except where allowed by law 
or where a sidewalk is not provided), freeways, or natural surfaces 
such as beaches where there is not a defined circulation route for 
pedestrians, are also included in this category.
    Question 8: Please comment on the proposed definition of other 
power-driven mobility devices. Is the definition overly inclusive of 
power-driven mobility devices that may be used by individuals with 
disabilities?
    The Department's proposed regulatory text on accommodating 
wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices is discussed below 
in Sec.  36.311 of the section-by-section analysis.

[[Page 34520]]

``Place of Lodging''
    The Department proposes to add a definition of ``place of lodging'' 
that will be used in proposed Sec.  36.406(c) to address the coverage 
of rental accommodations in time-shares, condominium hotels, and mixed-
use and corporate hotels. The proposed definition specifies that a 
place of lodging is a facility that provides guestrooms for sleeping 
for stays that are primarily short-term in nature (generally two weeks 
or less), where the occupant does not have the right or intent to 
return to a specific room or unit after the conclusion of his or her 
stay, and which operates under conditions and with amenities similar to 
a hotel, motel, or inn, such as an on-site proprietor and reservations 
desk. The factors to be followed in determining the conditions and 
amenities of a hotel include rooms available on a walk-up basis, linen 
service, and accepting reservations for a room type without 
guaranteeing a particular unit or room until check-in, without a prior 
lease or security deposit. It is the Department's intention that 
facilities that do not meet this definition would not be covered by the 
proposed Sec.  36.406(c).
``Qualified Interpreter''
    The Department proposes to add to the definition of qualified 
interpreter to clarify that the term includes, but is not limited to, 
sign language interpreters, oral interpreters, and cued speech 
interpreters.
    Not all interpreters are qualified for all situations. For example, 
a qualified interpreter who uses American Sign Language (ASL) is not 
necessarily qualified to interpret orally. Also, someone with just a 
rudimentary familiarity with sign language or finger spelling is not a 
qualified sign language interpreter. Likewise, a qualified sign 
language interpreter would not include someone who is fluent in sign 
language but unable to translate spoken communication into ASL or to 
translate signed communication into spoken words.
    The revised definition includes examples of different types of 
interpreters. An oral interpreter has special skill and training to 
mouth a speaker's words silently for individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing, many of whom were raised orally and taught to read lips or 
were diagnosed with hearing loss later in life and do not know sign 
language. An individual who is deaf or hard of hearing may need an oral 
interpreter if the speaker's voice is unclear, there is a quick-paced 
exchange of communication (e.g., in a meeting), or when the speaker 
does not directly face the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing. A 
cued speech interpreter functions in the same manner as an oral 
interpreter except that he or she also uses a hand code or cue to 
represent each speech sound.
``Qualified Reader''
    The current title III regulation identifies a qualified reader as 
an auxiliary aid, but it does not define the term. See 28 CFR 
36.303(b)(2). Based upon the Department's investigation of complaints 
alleging that some entities have provided ineffective readers, the 
Department proposes to define ``qualified reader'' similarly to 
``qualified interpreter'' to ensure that entities select qualified 
individuals to read an examination or other written information in an 
effective, accurate, and impartial manner. Failing to provide a 
qualified reader to a person with a disability may constitute a 
violation of the requirement to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and 
services.
``Qualified Small Business''
    A qualified small business is a business entity defined as a small 
business concern under the regulations promulgated by the Small 
Business Administration (SBA) pursuant to the Small Business Act. See 
15 U.S.C. 632; 13 CFR part 121. Under section 3(a)(2)(C) of the Small 
Business Act, federal departments and agencies are prohibited from 
prescribing a size standard for categorizing a business concern as a 
small business unless they have been specifically authorized to do so 
or have proposed a size standard in compliance with the criteria set 
forth in the SBA regulations, have provided an opportunity for public 
notice and comment on the proposed standard, and have received approval 
from the Administrator of the SBA to use the standard. See id. Federal 
agencies or departments promulgating regulations relating to small 
businesses usually use SBA size criteria. If they decide otherwise, 
they must be prepared to justify how they arrived at a different 
standard and why the SBA's regulations do not satisfy the agency's 
program requirements. See 13 CFR 121.903.
    The ADA does not define ``small business'' or specifically 
authorize the Department to prescribe size standards. The Department 
believes that the size standards SBA has developed are appropriate for 
determining which businesses subject to the ADA should be subject to 
the proposed safe harbor provisions. Therefore, the Department proposes 
to adopt the SBA's size standards to define small businesses under the 
ADA.
    The SBA's small business size standards define the maximum size 
that a concern, together with all of its affiliates, may be if it is to 
be eligible for federal small business programs or to be considered a 
small business for the purpose of other federal agency programs. 
Concerns primarily engaged in the same kind of economic activity are 
classified in the same industry regardless of their types of ownership 
(such as sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation). 
Approximately 1200 industries are described in detail in the North 
American Industry Classification System--United States, 2007. For most 
places of public accommodation, the SBA has established a size standard 
based on average annual receipts. The majority of places of public 
accommodation will be classified as small businesses if their average 
annual receipts are less than $6.5 million. However, some will qualify 
with higher annual receipts. The SBA's small business size standards 
should be familiar to most small businesses. Current standards, which 
can only be changed after notice and comment rulemaking, are available 
at http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics07/naics07fr3.htm.
``Service Animal''
    The Department is proposing to amend the definition of ``service 
animal'' in Sec.  36.104 of the current regulation, which is defined 
as, ``any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained 
to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a 
disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with 
impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to 
intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, 
pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.'' Proposed Sec.  
36.104 would:
    1. Remove ``guide'' or ``signal'' as descriptions of types of 
service dogs and add ``other common domestic'' animal to the 
Department's current definition;
    2. Remove ``individuals with impaired vision'' and replace it with 
``individuals who are blind or have low vision'';
    3. Change ``individuals with hearing impairments'' to ``individuals 
who are deaf or hard of hearing'';
    4. Replace the term ``intruders'' with the phrase ``the presence of 
people'' in the section on alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of 
hearing;
    5. Add the following to the list of work and task examples: 
Assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving

[[Page 34521]]

medicine or the telephone, providing physical support to assist with 
balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and 
assisting individuals, including those with cognitive disabilities, 
with navigation;
    6. Add that ``service animal'' includes individually trained 
animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals 
with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, or mental 
disabilities;
    7. Add that ``service animal'' does not include wild animals 
(including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, 
farm animals (including horses, miniature horses, ponies, pigs, and 
goats), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents; and
    8. Add that animals whose sole function is to provide emotional 
support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or 
promote emotional well-being are not ``service animals.''
    The Department is proposing these changes in response to concerns 
expressed by commenters who responded to the Department's ANPRM. Issues 
raised by the commenters include:
    ``Minimal protection.'' There were many comments by service dog 
users urging the Department to remove from the definition ``providing 
minimal protection.'' The commenters set forth the following reasons: 
(1) The current phrase can be interpreted to allow ``protection dogs'' 
that are trained to be aggressive and to provide protection to be 
covered under the ADA, so long as they are paired with a person with a 
disability; and (2) since some view the minimal protection language to 
mean that a dog's very presence can act as a crime deterrent, the 
language allows any untrained pet dog to provide this minimal 
protection by its mere presence. These interpretations were not 
contemplated by the ADA or the title III regulation.
    In the Department's ADA Business Brief on Service Animals, which 
was published in 2002, the Department interpreted the minimal 
protection language within the context of a seizure (i.e., alerting and 
protecting a person who is having a seizure). Despite the Department's 
best efforts, the minimal protection language appears to have been 
misinterpreted. Nonetheless, the Department continues to believe that 
it should retain the ``providing minimal protection'' language and 
interpret the language to exclude so-called ``attack dogs'' that pose a 
direct threat to others.
    Question 9: Should the Department clarify the phrase ``providing 
minimal protection'' in the definition or remove it?
    ``Alerting to intruders.'' Some commenters argued that the phrase 
``alerting to intruders'' in the current text has been misinterpreted 
by some people to apply to a special line of protection dogs that are 
trained to be aggressive. People have asserted, incorrectly, that use 
of such animals is protected under the ADA. The Department reiterates 
that public accommodations are not required to admit any animal that 
poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The Department 
has proposed removing ``intruders'' and replacing it with ``the 
presence of people.''
    ``Task'' emphasis. Many commenters followed the lead of an umbrella 
service dog organization in suggesting that ``performing tasks'' should 
form the basis of the service animal definition, that ``do work'' 
should be eliminated from the definition, and that ``physical'' should 
be added to describe tasks. Tasks by their nature are physical, so the 
Department does not believe that such a change is warranted. In 
contrast, the phrase ``do work'' is slightly broader than ``perform 
tasks,'' and adds meaning to the definition. For example, a psychiatric 
service dog can help some individuals with dissociative identity 
disorder to remain grounded in time or place. As one service dog user 
stated, in some cases ``critical forms of assistance can't be construed 
as physical tasks,'' noting that the manifestations of ``brain-based 
disabilities,'' such as psychiatric disorders and autism, are as varied 
as their physical counterparts. One commenter stated that the current 
definition works for everyone (i.e., those with physical and mental 
disabilities) and urged the Department to keep it. The Department has 
evaluated this issue and believes that the crux of the current 
definition (individual training to do work or perform tasks) is 
inclusive of the varied services provided by working animals on behalf 
of individuals with all types of disabilities and proposes that this 
portion of the definition remain the same.
    Define ``task.'' One commenter suggested defining the term 
``task,'' presumably so that there would be a better understanding of 
what type of service performed by an animal would qualify for coverage. 
The Department feels that the common definition of task is sufficiently 
clear and that it is not necessary to add to the definitions section. 
However, the Department has proposed additional examples of work or 
tasks to help illustrate this requirement in the definition.
    Define ``animal'' or what qualifies certain species as ``service 
animals.'' When the regulations were promulgated in the early 1990s, 
the Department did not define the parameters of acceptable animal 
species, and few anticipated the variety of animals that would be used 
in the future, ranging from pigs and miniature horses to snakes and 
iguanas. One commenter suggested defining ``animal'' (in the context of 
service animals) or the parameters of species to reduce the confusion 
over whether a particular service animal is covered. One service dog 
organization commented that other species would be acceptable if those 
animals could meet the behavioral standards of trained service dogs. 
Other commenters asserted that there are certain animals (e.g., 
reptiles) that cannot be trained to do work or perform tasks, so these 
animals would not be covered. The Department has followed closely this 
particular issue (i.e., how many unusual animals are now claimed as 
service animals) and believes that this aspect of the regulation needs 
clarification.
    To establish a practical and reasonable species parameter, the 
Department proposes to narrow the definition of acceptable animal 
species to ``dog or other common domestic animal'' by excluding the 
following animals: Reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including horses, 
miniature horses, ponies, pigs, or goats), ferrets, amphibians, and 
rodents. Many commenters asserted that limiting the number of allowable 
species would help stop erosion of the public's trust, which results in 
reduced access for many individuals with disabilities, despite the fact 
that they use trained service animals that adhere to high behavioral 
standards. The Department is compelled to take into account practical 
considerations of certain animals and contemplate their suitability in 
a variety of public contexts, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and 
performing arts venues.
    In addition, the Department believes that it is necessary to 
eliminate from coverage all wild animals, whether born or bred in 
captivity or the wild. Some animals, such as nonhuman primates, pose a 
direct threat to safety based on behavior that can be aggressive and 
violent without notice or provocation. The American Veterinary Medical 
Association (AVMA) issued a position statement against the use of 
monkeys as service animals, stating, ``[t]he AVMA does not support the 
use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal 
welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury and zoonotic (animal 
to human disease transmission)

[[Page 34522]]

risks.'' See AVMA position statement, Nonhuman Primates as Assistance 
Animals (2005), available at http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/
nonhuman_primates.asp. The potential for nonhuman primates to transmit 
dangerous diseases to humans has been documented in scientific 
journals.
    Although unusual species make up a very small percentage of service 
animals as a collective group, their use has engendered broad public 
debate and, therefore, the Department seeks comment on this issue.
    Question 10: Should the Department eliminate certain species from 
the definition of ``service animal''? If so, please provide comment on 
the Department's use of the phrase ``common domestic animal'' and on 
its choice of which types of animals to exclude.
    Question 11: Should the Department impose a size or weight 
limitation for common domestic animals, even if the animal satisfies 
the ``common domestic animal'' prong of the proposed definition?
    Comfort animals. It is important to address the concept of comfort 
animals or emotional support animals, which have become increasingly 
popular, primarily with individuals with mental or psychiatric 
impairments, many of which do not rise to the level of disability. 
Comfort animals are also used by individuals without any type of 
impairment who claim the need for such animals in order to bring their 
pets into places of public accommodation.
    The difference between an emotional support animal and a legitimate 
psychiatric service animal is the service that is provided (i.e., the 
actual work or task performed by the service animal). Another critical 
factor rests on the severity of the individual's impairment. For 
example, only individuals with conditions that substantially limit them 
in a major life activity currently qualify for coverage under the ADA, 
and only those individuals will qualify to use a service animal. See 42 
U.S.C. 12102(2) (defining disability); 28 CFR 36.104 (same). Major life 
activities include functions such as caring for oneself, performing 
manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, 
and working. Many Americans have some type of physical or mental 
impairment (e.g., arthritis, anxiety, back pain, imperfect vision, 
etc.), but establishing a physical or mental disability also requires 
there to be a substantial limitation of a major life activity. 
Traditionally, service dogs worked as guides for individuals who were 
blind or had low vision. Since the original regulations were 
promulgated, service animals have been trained to assist individuals 
with many different types of disabilities. In some cases, individuals 
with minor impairments who are not individuals with disabilities under 
the Act have mistakenly concluded that any type of impairment qualified 
them for the ADA's protection of the right of individuals with 
disabilities to use service animals.
    Change ``service animal'' to ``assistance animal.'' Some commenters 
asserted that ``assistance animal'' is a term of art and should replace 
``service animal.'' While some agencies, like the Department of Housing 
and Urban Development (HUD), use the term ``assistance animal,'' that 
term is used to denote a broader category of animals than is covered by 
the ADA. The Department believes that changing the term used under the 
ADA would create confusion, particularly in view of the broader 
parameters for coverage under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) cf., HUD 
Handbook No. 4350.3 Rev-1, Chg-2, Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized 
Multifamily Housing Programs (June 2007), available at http://
www.hudclips.org. Moreover, the Department's proposal to change the 
definition of ``service animal'' under the ADA is not intended to 
affect the rights of people with disabilities who use assistance 
animals in their homes under the FHA. In addition, the Department 
wishes to use the term ``psychiatric service animal'' to describe a 
service animal that does work or performs a task for the benefit of an 
individual with a psychiatric disability. This contrasts with 
``emotional support'' animals that are covered under the Air Carrier 
Access Act, 49 U.S.C. 41705 et seq., and its implementing regulations. 
14 CFR 382.7 et seq.; see also 68 FR 24874, 24877 (May 9, 2003) 
(discussing accommodation of service animals and emotional support 
animals on air transportation), and that qualify as ``assistance 
animals'' under the FHA, but do not qualify as ``service animals'' 
under the ADA.
''Video Interpreting Services'' (VIS)
    The Department has added a definition of ``video interpreting 
services (VIS),'' a technology composed of a video phone, video 
monitors, cameras, a high-speed Internet connection, and an 
interpreter. The video phone provides video transmission to a video 
monitor that permits the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to 
view and sign to a video interpreter (i.e., a live interpreter in 
another location), who can see and sign to the individual through a 
camera located on or near the monitor, while others can communicate by 
speaking. The video monitor can display a split screen of two live 
images, with the interpreter in one image and the individual who is 
deaf or hard of hearing in the other image.
    VIS can provide immediate, effective access to interpreting 
services seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day by allowing people 
in different locations to engage in live, face-to-face communications. 
Moreover, VIS is particularly helpful where qualified interpreters are 
not readily available (e.g., for quick response to emergency hospital 
visits, in areas with an insufficient number of qualified interpreters 
to meet demand, and in rural areas where distances and an interpreter's 
travel time present obstacles).
    Along with the addition of the definition of VIS, other amendments 
to the communications section are discussed below in Sec.  36.303.
``Wheelchair''
    The Department proposes the following definition of ``wheelchair'' 
in Sec.  36.104: ``Wheelchair means a device designed solely for use by 
an individual with a mobility impairment for the primary purpose of 
locomotion in typical indoor and outdoor pedestrian areas. A wheelchair 
may be manually operated or power-driven.''
    The proposed definition of ``wheelchair'' is informed by several 
existing definitions of ``wheelchair.'' Section 507 of the ADA defines 
wheelchair in the context of whether to allow wheelchairs in federal 
wilderness areas: ``the term 'wheelchair' means a device designed 
solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion, that is 
suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area.'' 42 U.S.C. 12207(c)(2). 
The Department believes that while this definition is appropriate in 
the limited context of federal wilderness areas, it is not specific 
enough to provide clear guidance in the array of settings covered by 
title III.
    The other existing federal definition of wheelchair that the 
Department reviewed is in the Department of Transportation regulation 
implementing the transportation provisions under title II and title III 
of the ADA. The Department of Transportation's definition of wheelchair 
is ``a mobility aid belonging to any class of three- or four-wheeled 
devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with 
mobility disabilities, whether operated manually or powered.'' 49 CFR 
37.3. The Department has adopted much of the language from this 
definition.

[[Page 34523]]

Under the proposed definition, wheelchairs include manually operated 
and power-driven wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Mobility devices 
such as golf cars, bicycles, and electronic personal assistance 
mobility devices (EPAMDs) are inherently excluded from the proposed 
definition. Typically, the devices covered under the proposed 
definition are single-user, have three to four wheels, and are 
appropriate for both indoor and outdoor pedestrian areas. However, it 
could include a variety of types of wheelchairs and mobility scooters 
with individualized or unique features or models with different numbers 
of wheels. ``Typical indoor and outdoor pedestrian areas'' refer to 
locations and surfaces used by and intended for pedestrians, including 
sidewalks, paved paths, floors of buildings, elevators, and other 
circulation routes, but would not include such areas as off-road bike 
paths, roads (except where allowed by law or where a sidewalk is not 
provided), freeways, or natural surfaces such as beaches where there is 
not a defined circulation route for pedestrians.
    The Department does not propose to define specific dimensions that 
qualify a device as a wheelchair. The Department of Transportation's 
definition includes a subpart defining ``common wheelchair'' to provide 
guidance for public transit authorities on which devices must be 
transported. A ``common wheelchair'' is a wheelchair that ``does not 
exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches 
above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when 
occupied.'' 49 CFR 37.3. The narrower definition of ``common 
wheelchair'' was developed with reference to the requirements for lifts 
to establish parameters for the size and weight a lift can safely 
accommodate. See 49 CFR part 37, App. D (2002). The Department does not 
believe it is necessary to adopt stringent size and weight requirements 
for wheelchairs.
    The Department requests public input on the proposed definition for 
``wheelchair.''
    Question 12: As explained above, the definition of ``wheelchair'' 
is intended to be tailored so that it includes many styles of 
traditional wheeled mobility devices (e.g., wheelchairs and mobility 
scooters). Does the definition appear to exclude some types of 
wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or other traditional wheeled mobility 
devices? Please cite specific examples if possible.
    Question 13: Should the Department expand its definition of 
``wheelchair'' to include Segways[supreg]?
    Question 14: Are there better ways to define different classes of 
mobility devices, such as the weight and size of the device that is 
used by the Department of Transportation in the definition of ``common 
wheelchair''?
    Question 15: Should the Department maintain the non-exhaustive list 
of examples as the definitional approach to the term ``manually powered 
mobility aids''? If so, please indicate whether there are any other 
non-powered or manually powered mobility devices that should be 
considered for specific inclusion in the definition, a description of 
those devices, and an explanation of the reasons they should be 
included.
    Question 16: Should the Department adopt a definition of the term 
``manually powered mobility aids''? If so, please provide suggested 
language and an explanation of the reasons such a definition would 
better serve the public.
    The proposed regulation regarding mobility devices, including 
wheelchairs, is discussed below in the section-by-section analysis for 
Sec.  36.311.

Subpart B--General Requirements

Section 36.208 Direct Threat

    The proposed regulation moves the definition of direct threat from 
Sec.  36.208(b) to the definitions section at Sec.  36.104. This is an 
editorial change. Consequently, Sec.  36.208(c) would become Sec.  
36.208(b) in the proposed regulation.

Section 36.211 Maintenance of accessible features

    The general rule regarding the maintenance of accessible features, 
which provides that a public accommodation must maintain in operable 
working condition those features of facilities and equipment that are 
required to be readily accessible to and usable by qualified 
individuals with disabilities, is unchanged. However, the Department 
wishes to clarify its application and proposes one change to the 
section.
    The Department has noticed that some covered entities do not 
understand what is required by Sec.  36.211, and it would like to take 
the opportunity presented by this NPRM to clarify. Section 36.211(a) 
broadly covers all features that are required to be accessible under 
the ADA, from accessible routes and elevators to roll-in showers and 
signage. It is not sufficient for a building or other feature to be 
built in compliance with the ADA, only to be blocked or changed later 
so that it is inaccessible. A common problem observed by the Department 
is that covered facilities do not maintain accessible routes. For 
example, the accessible routes in offices or stores are commonly 
obstructed by boxes, potted plants, display racks, or other items so 
that the routes are inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs. Under 
the ADA, the accessible route must be maintained and, therefore, these 
items are required to be removed. If the items are placed there 
temporarily--for example, if an office receives multiple boxes of 
supplies and is moving them from the hall to the storage room--then 
Sec.  36.211(b) excuses such ``isolated or temporary interruptions.'' 
Other common examples of features that must be maintained, and often 
are not, are platform lifts and elevators. Public accommodations must 
ensure that these features are operable and, to meet this requirement, 
regular servicing and making repairs quickly will be necessary.
    The Department proposes to amend the rule by adding Sec.  36.211(c) 
to address the discrete situation in which the scoping requirements 
provided in the proposed standards may reduce the number of required 
elements below that are required by the 1991 Standards. In that 
discrete event, a public accommodation may reduce such accessible 
features in accordance with the requirements in the proposed standards.

Section 36.302 Modifications in Policies, Practices, or Procedures

Section 36.302(c) Service Animals

    The Department's regulation now states that ``[g]enerally, a public 
accommodation shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit 
the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.'' 28 
CFR 36.302(c)(1). In general, the Department is proposing to retain the 
scope of the current regulation while clarifying its longstanding 
policies and interpretations.
    The Department is proposing to revise Sec.  36.302(c) by adding the 
following sections as exceptions to the general rule on access. 
Proposed Sec.  36.302 would:
    1. Expressly incorporate the Department's policy interpretations as 
outlined in published technical assistance Commonly Asked Questions 
about Service Animals (1996) (http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm) and ADA 
Business Brief: Service Animals (2002) (http://www.ada.gov/
svcanimb.htm) and add that a public accommodation may ask an individual 
with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if: (1) 
The animal is out of

[[Page 34524]]

control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to 
control it; (2) the animal is not housebroken or the animal's presence 
or behavior fundamentally alters the nature of the service the public 
accommodation provides (e.g., repeated barking during a live 
performance); or (3) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or 
safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable modifications;
    2. Add that if a place of public accommodation properly excludes a 
service animal, the public accommodation must give the individual with 
a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, or 
accommodations without having the service animal on the premises;
    3. Add requirements that the work or tasks performed by a service 
animal must be directly related to the handler's disability; that a 
service animal that accompanies an individual with a disability into a 
place of public accommodation must be individually trained to do work 
or perform a task, be housebroken, and be under the control of its 
owner; and that a service animal must have a harness, leash, or other 
tether;
    4. Modify the language in Sec.  36.302(c)(2), which currently 
states, ``[n]othing in this part requires a public accommodation to 
supervise or care for a service animal,'' to read, ``[a] public 
accommodation is not responsible for caring for or supervising a 
service animal,'' and relocate this provision to proposed Sec.  
36.302(c)(5). (This proposed language does not require that the person 
with a disability care for his or her service animal if care can be 
provided by a family member, friend, attendant, volunteer, or anyone 
acting on behalf of the person with a disability.);
    5. Expressly incorporate the Department's policy interpretations as 
outlined in published technical assistance Commonly Asked Questions 
about Service Animals (1996) (http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm) and ADA 
Business Brief: Service Animals (2002) (http://www.ada.gov/
svcanimb.htm) that a public accommodation must not ask about the nature 
or extent of a person's disability, nor require proof of service animal 
certification or licensing, but that a public accommodation may ask: 
(i) If the animal is required because of a disability; and (ii) what 
work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform;
    6. Add that individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by 
service animals may access all areas of a public accommodation where 
members of the public are allowed to go; and
    7. Expressly incorporate the Department's policy interpretations as 
outlined in published technical assistance Commonly Asked Questions 
about Service Animals (1996) (http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm) and ADA 
Business Brief: Service Animals (2002) (http://www.ada.gov/
svcanimb.htm) and add that a public accommodation must not require an 
individual with a disability to pay a fee or surcharge, post a deposit, 
or comply with requirements not generally applicable to other patrons 
as a condition of permitting a service animal to accompany its handler 
in a place of public accommodation, even if such deposits are required 
for pets, and that if a public accommodation normally charges its 
clients or customers for damage that they cause, a customer with a 
disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service 
animal.
    These changes will respond to the following concerns raised by 
individuals and organizations that commented in response to the ANPRM.
    Proposed behavior or training standards. Some commenters proposed 
behavior or training standards for the Department to adopt in its 
revised regulation, not only to remain in keeping with the requirement 
for individual training, but also on the basis that without training 
standards the public has no way to differentiate between untrained pets 
and service animals. Because of the variety of individual training that 
a service animal can receive--from formal licensing at an academy to 
individual training on how to respond to the onset of medical 
conditions, such as seizures--the Department is not inclined to 
establish a standard that all service animals must meet. While the 
Department does not plan to change the current policy of no formal 
training or certification requirements, some of the behavioral 
standards that it has proposed actually relate to suitability for 
public access, such as being housebroken and under the control of its 
handler.
    Hospital and healthcare settings. Public accommodations, including 
hospitals, must modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the 
use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. 28 CFR 
36.302(c)(1). The exception to this requirement is if making the 
modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, 
services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. Id. at 
36.302(a). The Department generally follows the guidance of the Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the use of service animals 
in a hospital setting.
    As required by the ADA, a healthcare facility must permit a person 
with a disability to be accompanied by his or her service animal in all 
areas of the facility in which that person would otherwise be allowed, 
with some exceptions. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted to humans 
through trauma (bites, scratches, direct contact, arthropod vectors, or 
aerosols). Although there is no evidence that most service animals pose 
a significant risk of transmitting infectious agents to humans, animals 
can serve as a reservoir for a significant number of diseases that 
could potentially be transmitted to humans in the healthcare setting. A 
service animal may accompany its owner to such areas as admissions and 
discharge offices, the emergency room, inpatient and outpatient rooms, 
examining and diagnostic rooms, clinics, rehabilitation therapy areas, 
the cafeteria and vending areas, the pharmacy, rest rooms, and all 
other areas of the facility where visitors are permitted, except those 
listed below.
    Under the ADA, the only circumstances under which a person with a 
disability may not be entitled to be accompanied by his or her service 
animal are those rare circumstances in which it has been determined 
that the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of 
others. A direct threat is defined as a significant risk to the health 
or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or mitigated by a 
modification of policies, practices, or procedures. Based on CDC 
guidance, it is generally appropriate to exclude a service animal from 
areas that require a protected environment, including operating rooms, 
holding and recovery areas, labor and delivery suites, newborn 
intensive care nurseries, and sterile processing departments. See 
Centers for Disease Control, Guidelines for Environmental Infection 
Control in Health-Care Facilities: Recommendations of CDC and the 
Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (June 2003), 
available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5210a1.htm.

Section 36.302(e) Hotel Reservations

    Each year, the Department receives many complaints about failed 
reservations. Most of these complaints involve individuals who have 
reserved an accessible hotel room only to discover upon arrival that 
the room they reserved is either not available or not accessible. 
Although reservations services were not addressed in the ANPRM, 
commenters noted the ongoing

[[Page 34525]]

problem with hotel reservations and urged the Department to provide 
regulatory guidance on the issue.
    The reservations policies, practices, and procedures of public 
accommodations are subject to title III's general and specific 
nondiscrimination provisions. See 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 CFR 36.302. With 
this NPRM, the Department proposes to address hotel reservations within 
its regulation on modifications to policies, practices, and procedures. 
See 28 CFR 36.302.
    The proposed rule is based on straightforward nondiscrimination 
principles: individuals with disabilities should be able to reserve 
hotel rooms with the same efficiency, immediacy, and convenience as 
those who do not need accessible guest rooms. Currently, this simple 
premise appears more often to be the exception than the rule.
    General rule on reservations. The Department's proposed Sec.  
36.302(e)(1) states the general rule that a public accommodation that 
owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of lodging shall 
modify its policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that 
individuals with disabilities can make reservations for accessible 
guest rooms in the same way as others (i.e., during the same hours and 
in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms).
    Reservations can be made in many different ways--in person, on the 
phone, directly with the hotel, with a parent company, or through a 
travel agency. The proposed rule is meant to reach any public 
accommodation that owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of 
lodging, and is not limited to a hotel's operation of its own 
reservations service. Thus, the rule would apply equally to 
corporations that own one or more hotel chains and provide a system by 
which prospective customers can reserve guest rooms, as well as to 
franchisors that provide reservation services. All covered entities 
must modify their policies and practices to ensure parity in 
reservations policies between those who need accessible rooms and those 
who do not.
    Identification of accessible guest rooms. Proposed Sec.  
36.302(e)(2) states that hotel reservations services must identify and 
describe the accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms. This 
requirement is integral to ensuring that individuals with disabilities 
receive the information they need to benefit from the services offered 
by the place of lodging. As a practical matter, a public 
accommodation's designation of a guest room as ``accessible'' will not 
necessarily ensure that the room complies with all of the 1991 
Standards. In older facilities subject to barrier removal, strict 
compliance with the 1991 Standards is not required. Public 
accommodations must remove barriers to the extent that it is readily 
achievable to do so. Individuals with disabilities must be able to 
ascertain which features--in new and existing buildings--are included 
in the hotel's accessible guest rooms. The presence or absence of 
particular accessible features may be the difference between a room 
that is usable by a person with a disability and one that is not. 
Information about the availability and nature of accessible features 
will minimize the risk that individuals with disabilities will reserve 
a room that is not what was expected or needed.
    Guarantees of accessible guest room reservations. Section 
36.302(e)(3) provides that a public accommodation that owns, operates, 
leases (or leases to) a place of lodging shall guarantee accessible 
guest rooms that are reserved through a reservations service to the 
same extent that it guarantees rooms that are not accessible. The 
Department recognizes that not all reservations are guaranteed and the 
proposed rule does not impose an affirmative duty to do so. When a 
public accommodation typically guarantees hotel reservations (absent 
unforeseen circumstances), it must provide the same guarantee for 
accessible guest rooms. Because the Department is aware that 
reservation guarantees take many different forms (e.g., an upgrade 
within the same hotel or a comparable room in another hotel), the 
Department seeks comment on the current practices of hotels and third 
party reservations services with respect to ``guaranteed'' hotel 
reservations and the impact of requiring a public accommodation to 
guarantee accessible rooms to the extent it guarantees other rooms.
    Question 17: What are the current practices of hotels and third 
party reservations services with respect to ``guaranteed'' hotel 
reservations? What are the practical effects of requiring a public 
accommodation to guarantee accessible guest rooms to the same extent 
that it guarantees other rooms?
    Finally, although not included in the proposed regulation as 
currently drafted, the Department is seeking comment on whether 
additional regulatory guidance is needed on the policies, practices, 
and procedures by which public accommodations hold and release 
accessible hotel guest rooms, and whether third party travel agents 
should be subject to the requirements set out in Sec.  36.302(e)(2) and 
Sec.  36.302 (e)(3).
    Hold and release of accessible guest rooms and third-party 
reservations. With respect to the hold and release of accessible guest 
rooms, the Department has addressed this issue in settlement agreements 
and recognizes that current practices vary widely. As in the ticketing 
context, regulating in the area of hotel reservations involves 
complicated issues, such as guest room dispersion and variable pricing. 
The Department is concerned about current practices by which accessible 
guest rooms are released to the general public even though the hotel is 
not sold out. In such instances, individuals with disabilities may be 
denied an equal opportunity to benefit from the services offered by the 
public accommodation, i.e., a hotel guest room.
    The Department also recognizes that the proposed rule does not 
reach all public accommodations that are engaged in the business of 
providing hotel reservations. As discussed above, the rule reaches 
public accommodations that own, lease (or lease to), or operate a place 
of lodging. It does not reach an entity that, for example, owns or 
operates a travel agency, while the agency or service is independent of 
any place of lodging. Public accommodations that own, lease (or lease 
to), or operate places of lodging are required to provide the 
information prescribed by the proposed rule to third parties like 
travel agencies, but the third parties are not, independently, liable. 
At this juncture, the Department seeks comment from individuals, 
businesses, and advocacy groups as to whether such entities should be 
required to identify and describe accessible features in hotel rooms 
available through their services, and whether such entities should be 
subject to the guarantee obligations set out in proposed Sec.  
36.302(e)(2) and Sec.  36.302(e)(3).
    Question 18: What are the current practices of hotels and third-
party reservations services with respect to (1) holding accessible 
rooms for individuals with disabilities and (2) releasing accessible 
rooms to individuals without disabilities? What factors are considered 
in making these determinations? Should public accommodations be 
required to hold one or more accessible rooms until all other rooms are 
rented, so that the accessible rooms would be the last rooms rented?
    Question 19: Should a public accommodation that does not itself 
own, lease (or lease to), or operate a place of lodging but 
nevertheless provides reservations services, including reservations for 
places of lodging, be subject to the requirements of proposed Sec.  
36.302(e)(2) and (e)(3)?

[[Page 34526]]

Section 36.302(f) Ticketing

    The ticketing policies and practices of public accommodations are 
subject to title III's general and specific discrimination provisions. 
See 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 CFR 36.302. Through the investigation of 
complaints, its enforcement actions, and public comments related to 
ticketing, the Department is aware of the need to provide regulatory 
guidance to entities involved in the sale or distribution of tickets. 
With this NPRM, the Department proposes to include a section on 
ticketing within the regulation on modifications to policies, 
practices, and procedures. See 28 CFR 36.302.
    In response to the ANPRM, individuals with disabilities and related 
advocacy groups commented that the reduced requirements for accessible 
seating in assembly areas underscored the need for clarification from 
the Department on ticketing related issues. One disability advocacy 
group asserted, that in order to guarantee equal access to assembly 
areas for people with disabilities, it is necessary to provide 
complementary design standards, sales policies, and operational 
procedures.
    The Department agrees that more explicit regulation is needed to 
ensure that individuals with disabilities are not improperly denied 
access to events because of discriminatory procedures for the sale of 
wheelchair spaces. The Department's enforcement actions have 
demonstrated that some venue operators, ticket sellers and distributors 
are not properly implementing title III's nondiscrimination provisions.
    The Department has entered into agreements addressing problems with 
ticketing sales and distribution by requiring specific modifications to 
ticketing policies. While these negotiated settlement agreements and 
consent decrees rest on fundamental nondiscrimination principles, they 
represent solutions tailored to specific facilities. The Department 
believes that guidance in this area is needed, but also recognizes that 
ticketing practices and policies vary with venue size and event type, 
and that a ``one-size-fits-all'' approach may be unrealistic.
    The proposed rule clarifies the application of title III with 
respect to ticketing issues in certain contexts, and is intended to 
strike a balance between a covered entity's desire to maximize ticket 
sales and the rights of individuals with disabilities to attend events 
in assembly areas in a manner that is equal to that afforded to 
individuals without disabilities. The proposed rule does not, however, 
purport to cover or clarify all aspects or applications of title III to 
ticketing issues. Moreover, the rule applies only to the sale or 
distribution of tickets that are sold or distributed on a preassigned 
basis. Tickets sold for most motion pictures, for example, would not be 
affected by the proposed rule.
    Because this rule addresses ticketing policies and practices for 
stadiums, arenas, theaters, and other facilities in which entertainment 
and sporting events are held, its provisions are related to and 
informed by those in proposed Sec.  36.308 (discussed below in the 
section-by-section analysis of Sec.  36.308), which covers seating in 
assembly areas. Section 221 of the proposed standards reduces the 
scoping requirements for accessible seating in assembly areas. After 
the proposed standards are finalized, the scoping reduction will apply 
to all public accommodations. See proposed 28 CFR 36.211(c).
    Ticket distribution methods. Section 36.302(f)(1) states the 
general rule that a public accommodation shall modify its policies, 
practices, and procedures to ensure that individuals with disabilities 
can purchase single or multi-event tickets for accessible seating in 
the same way as others, i.e., during the same hours and through the 
same distribution methods as other seating is sold. Tickets can be 
purchased in many different ways: in person or on the phone, directly 
through the venue, or through a third-party company. The proposed rule 
makes clear that it is meant to reach all public accommodations that 
provide a service by which individuals can purchase event tickets, and 
is not limited to a venue's operation of its own ticketing systems.
    The Department has received numerous complaints from individuals 
who were denied the opportunity to acquire tickets for accessible seats 
through avenues such as ticketing presales, promotions, lotteries, or 
waitlists. The proposed rule, at Sec.  36.302(f)(2), makes clear that 
public accommodations must include accessible seating in all stages of 
the ticketing process, including presales, promotions, lotteries, or 
waitlists.
    Identification of available accessible seating. Section 
36.302(f)(3) of the proposed rule requires a facility to identify 
available accessible seating. In the Department's investigations of 
theaters and stadiums, the Department has discovered that many 
facilities lack an accurate inventory of the accessible seating in 
their venues, and that this information gap results in lost 
opportunities for patrons who need accessible seating. For some public 
accommodations, multiple inventories may be required to account for 
different uses of the facility because the locations of accessible 
seating may change in an arena depending on whether it is used for a 
hockey game, a basketball game, or a concert. The proposed rule further 
requires that the facility identify the accessible seating on publicly 
available seating charts. This transparency will facilitate the 
accurate sale of accessible seating.
    Proposed Sec.  36.302(f)(4) requires public accommodations to 
provide individuals with disabilities with accurate information about 
the location of accessible seating. The proposed rule specifically 
prohibits the practice of ``steering'' individuals with disabilities to 
certain wheelchair spaces so that the facility can maximize potential 
ticket sales for other unsold wheelchair spaces.
    Season tickets and multiple event sales. Proposed Sec.  
36.302(f)(5) addresses the sale of season tickets and other tickets for 
multiple events. The proposed rule provides that public accommodations 
must sell season tickets or tickets for multiple events for accessible 
seating in the same manner that such tickets are sold to those 
purchasing general seating. The rule also states that spectators 
purchasing tickets for accessible seating on a multi-event basis shall 
be permitted to transfer tickets for single-event use by friends or 
associates in the same fashion and to the same extent as other 
spectators holding tickets for the same type of ticketing plan. A 
facility must provide a portable seat for the transferee to use, if 
necessary.
    Secondary market ticket sales. The Department is aware that the 
proposed rule may represent a significant change in practice for many 
public accommodations with respect to ``secondary market'' ticket 
sales. Because the secondary market is a recognized--and often 
integral--part of the ticketing distribution system for many venues and 
activities, individuals with disabilities will be denied an equal 
opportunity to benefit from the goods offered--attendance at an event--
if public accommodations have no obligations with respect to accessible 
seating bought or sold in this way. In conjunction with the proposed 
rule, the Department seeks comment about public accommodations' current 
practices with respect to the secondary market for tickets, and the 
anticipated impact of the proposed rule on different types of 
facilities or events.
    Question 20: If an individual resells a ticket for accessible 
seating to someone who does not need accessible seating,

[[Page 34527]]

should the secondary purchaser be required to move if the space is 
needed for someone with a disability?
    Question 21: Are there particular concerns about the obligation 
imposed by the proposed rule, in which a public accommodation must 
provide accessible seating, including a wheelchair space where needed, 
to an individual with a disability who purchases an ``inaccessible'' 
seat through the secondary market?
    Release of unsold accessible seats. Proposed Sec.  36.302(f)(6) 
provides regulatory guidance regarding the release of unsold accessible 
seats. Through its investigations, the Department has become familiar 
with the problem of designated accessible seating being sold to the 
general public before people who need accessible seating buy tickets. 
As a result, individuals who need to use the accessible seating cannot 
attend the event.
    The Department has entered into agreements addressing this problem 
by requiring specific modifications to ticketing policies. The 
Department believes that guidance in this area is needed, but also 
recognizes that ticketing practices and policies vary with venue size 
and event type, and that a ``one-size-fits-all'' approach may be 
unrealistic. These options provide flexibility so that ticketing 
policies can be adjusted according to the venue size and event type.
    Facility sell-out. Proposed Sec.  36.302(f)(6)(i) allows for the 
release of unsold accessible seating once standard seats in the 
facility have been sold, but luxury boxes, club boxes, or suites are 
not required to be sold out before the remaining accessible seats are 
released. To implement this option, the release of unsold accessible 
seating should be done according to an established, written schedule. 
Blocks of seats should be released in stages, and should include 
tickets in a range of price categories and locations that is 
representative of the range of seating that remains available to other 
patrons.
    Sell-outs in specific seating areas. Under the second contingency, 
proposed Sec.  36.302(f)(6)(ii), a facility could release unsold 
accessible seating in a specific seating area if all of the standard 
seats in that location were sold out. For example, if all seats in the 
orchestra level are sold, the unsold accessible seats in the orchestra 
level could be released for sale to the general public.
    Sell-outs in specific price ranges. The third approach described at 
proposed Sec.  36.302(f)(6)(iii) permits a public accommodation to 
release unsold accessible seats in a specific price range if all other 
seats in that price range were sold out. For example, if all $50 seats 
were sold, regardless of their location, the unsold $50 accessible 
seats may be released for sale to the general public.
    Question 22: Although not included in the proposed regulation, the 
Department is soliciting comment on whether additional regulatory 
guidance is required or appropriate in terms of a more detailed or set 
schedule for the release of tickets in conjunction with the three 
approaches described above. For example, does the proposed regulation 
address the variable needs of assembly areas covered by the ADA? Is 
additional regulatory guidance required to eliminate discriminatory 
policies, practices, and procedures related to the sale, hold, and 
release of accessible seating? What considerations should appropriately 
inform the determination of when unsold accessible seating can be 
released to the general public?
    Ticket pricing. Section 36.302(f)(7) of the proposed rule addresses 
ticket pricing. The proposed rule codifies the Department's 
longstanding policy that public accommodations cannot impose a 
surcharge for wheelchair spaces. Accessible seating must be made 
available at all price levels for an event. If an existing facility has 
barriers to accessible seating at a particular price level for an 
event, then a percentage (determined by the ratio of the total number 
of seats at that price level to the total number of seats in the 
assembly area) of the number of accessible seats must be provided at 
that price level in an accessible location. In no case shall the price 
of any particular accessible seat exceed the price that would 
ordinarily be charged for an inaccessible seat in that location. For 
example, many theaters built prior to the passage of the ADA have 
balconies that are inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs, and the 
only wheelchair spaces are located in the orchestra level in which 
tickets are more expensive. If a comparably sized balcony in a theater 
built under the ADA 's new construction standards would have two 
wheelchair spaces, the existing theater must sell two orchestra 
wheelchair spaces at the balcony price on a first come, first served 
basis.
    Fraudulent purchase of designated accessible seating. The 
Department has received numerous comments regarding fraudulent attempts 
to purchase wheelchair spaces for patrons other than those who use 
wheelchairs. Moreover, the Department recognizes that the 
implementation of some of its proposals, such as those relating to the 
public identification of accessible seating, increase the potential for 
the fraudulent purchase of accessible seats by those who do not need 
them. The Department continues to believe that requiring an individual 
to provide proof that he or she is a person with a disability is an 
unnecessary and burdensome invasion of privacy and may unfairly deter 
individuals with disabilities who seek to purchase tickets to an event.
    Notwithstanding this position, the proposed rule at Sec.  
36.302(f)(8) permits public accommodations to take certain steps to 
address potential ticket fraud. A covered entity may inquire at the 
time of the ticket purchase whether the wheelchair space is for someone 
who uses a wheelchair. For season or subscription tickets, a facility 
may require the purchaser to attest in writing that the wheelchair 
space is for someone who uses a wheelchair. However, the proposed rule 
preserves the right of an individual with a disability to transfer his 
or her ticket for individual events and clarifies that the intermittent 
use of the wheelchair space by a person who does not use a wheelchair 
does not constitute fraud.
    Purchase of multiple tickets. The Department has received numerous 
complaints that public accommodations are unfairly restricting the 
number of tickets that can be purchased by individuals with 
disabilities. Many public accommodations limit the number of tickets an 
individual with a disability may purchase, requiring the individual to 
purchase no more than two tickets (for himself or herself and a 
companion), while other patrons have significantly higher purchase 
limits (if any). This is particularly unfair for families, friends, or 
other groups larger than two that include a person who requires 
accessible seating. If the ticket number is limited, the result for 
wheelchair users is that parents and children, friends, classmates, and 
others are separated. Section 36.302(f)(9) clarifies the application of 
title III to ameliorate such a situation.
    There are various ways that covered entities can accommodate groups 
that require at least one wheelchair space. The proposed regulation 
permits up to three companions to sit in a designated wheelchair area, 
platform, or cross-over aisle that is designated as a wheelchair area, 
even if the number of companions outnumbers the individuals requiring a 
wheelchair space. For example, a parent who uses a wheelchair could 
attend a concert with his or her spouse and their two children who do 
not use wheelchairs, and all four could sit together in the wheelchair 
area. The Department recognizes that some

[[Page 34528]]

advocates may object to this use of designated wheelchair areas because 
it will reduce the amount of accessible seating available for those who 
need it. On balance, however, the Department believes that the 
opportunity to sit with family and friends, as other patrons do, is an 
integral element of the experience of attending a ticketed event, and 
it is an element that is often denied to individuals with disabilities.
    By limiting the number of tickets that can be purchased under this 
provision to four, the Department seeks a balance by which groups and 
families can be accommodated while still leaving ample space for other 
individuals who use wheelchairs. The Department seeks comments from 
individuals, business entities, and advocacy organizations on whether 
the proposed rule will appropriately effectuate the integration and 
nondiscrimination principles underlying the rule.
    Question 23: Is the proposed rule regarding the number of tickets 
that a public accommodation must permit individuals who use wheelchairs 
to purchase sufficient to effectuate the integration of wheelchair 
users with others? If not, please provide suggestions for achieving the 
same result with regard to individual and group ticket sales.
    Group ticket sales. Group ticket sales present another area in 
which the Department believes additional regulatory guidance is 
appropriate. The purpose of the proposed rule is to prevent the current 
practice of separating groups in a way that isolates or segregates 
those in the group who require wheelchair seating. For group sales, if 
a group includes one or more individuals who use a wheelchair, the 
proposed rule requires the facility to place that group in a seating 
area that includes wheelchair spaces so that, if possible, the group 
can sit together. If it is necessary to divide the group, it should be 
divided so that the individuals in the group who use wheelchairs are 
not isolated from the group. In existing facilities that lack 
accessible seating in certain areas (e.g., a theater with an 
inaccessible balcony) the proposed regulation requires covered entities 
to seat at least three companions with the individual using a 
wheelchair in the accessible seating area of the orchestra.

Section 36.303 Auxiliary Aids and Services

    Captioning, narrative description, and video interpreting services. 
The Department is proposing changes to Sec.  36.303 in order to codify 
its longstanding policies in this area, and to propose amendments based 
on technological advances and breakthroughs in the area of auxiliary 
aids and services since the original regulation was published more than 
sixteen years ago. The Department is proposing to add video 
interpreting services (VIS) to the regulatory text and is discussing in 
this preamble options for addressing captioning and narrative 
description.
    Several types of auxiliary aids that have become more readily 
available have been added to Sec.  36.303. The Department has added a 
new technology in Sec.  36.303(b)(1), video interpreting services 
(VIS), which consists of a video phone, video monitors, cameras, a 
high-speed Internet connection, and an interpreter. The video phone 
provides video transmission to a video monitor that permits the 
individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to view and sign to a video 
interpreter (i.e., a live interpreter in another location), who can see 
and sign to the individual through a camera located on or near the 
monitor, while others can communicate by speaking. The video monitor 
can display a split screen of two live images, the interpreter in one 
image and the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing in the other 
image. VIS can provide immediate, effective access to interpreting 
services seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day by allowing people 
in different locations to engage in live, face-to-face communications. 
Moreover, VIS is particularly helpful when qualified interpreters are 
not readily available (e.g., for quick responses to emergency hospital 
visits, in areas with an insufficient number of qualified interpreters 
to meet demand, and in rural areas where distances and an interpreter's 
travel time present obstacles).
    For purposes of clarification, the Department proposes to add to 
Sec.  36.303(b)(1) the exchange of written notes as an example of an 
auxiliary aid or service. This common-sense example is a codification 
of the Department's longstanding policy with regard to title III 
entities, and was included in the preamble to the original regulation. 
See 56 FR 35544, 35566 (July 26, 1991). This additional example of an 
appropriate auxiliary aid or service was inserted because many entities 
do not realize that this easy and efficient means is available to them. 
While the exchange of written notes is inappropriate for lengthy or 
complicated communications, it can be appropriate for situations such 
as routine purchases in a department store or at a sports arena, or as 
a means of communication while awaiting the arrival of an interpreter.
    In Sec.  36.303(b)(2), the Department proposes to insert additional 
examples of auxiliary aids and services for individuals who are blind 
or have low vision. The preamble to the 1991 title III regulation makes 
clear that the original list was illustrative and that ``additional 
examples such as signage or mapping, audio description services, 
secondary auditory programs (SAP), telebraillers, and reading machines 
* * * may be considered appropriate auxiliary aids and services.'' 56 
FR 35544, 35566. Because technological advances in the seventeen years 
since the ADA was enacted have increased the range of auxiliary aids 
and services for those who are blind or have low vision, the Department 
has added additional examples, including brailled displays, screen 
reader software, magnification software, optical readers, secondary 
auditory programs (SAP), and accessible electronic and information 
technology.
    The Department proposes replacing the term ``telecommunications 
devices for deaf persons (TDD's)'' with ``text telephones (TTYs)'' in 
Sec.  36.303(b)(1). Although ``TDD'' is the term used in the ADA, 
``TTY'' has become the commonly accepted term and is consistent with 
the terminology used by the Access Board in the 2004 ADAAG. Second, the 
Department has inserted in Sec.  36.303(d)(2) additional types of 
auxiliary aids and services that can effectively provide telephone 
communication for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Two of 
the auxiliary aids now included--public telephones equipped with volume 
control mechanisms and hearing aid-compatible telephones--are designed 
for individuals who are hard of hearing. The third added auxiliary aid 
or service is VIS, which is an alternative designed for individuals who 
are deaf. A public accommodation need not provide all of these 
auxiliary aids and services, but should offer those needed to provide 
effective communication.
    Companions. The Department's proposed language for Sec.  36.303(c) 
imposes no new obligations on places of public accommodation. The first 
sentence of Sec.  36.303(c)(1) adds the phrase ``and their 
companions,'' so that the sentence now reads: ``A public accommodation 
shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary 
to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities 
and their companions who are individuals with disabilities.'' A new 
Sec.  36.303(c)(1)(i) defines ``companion'' as ``a family member, 
friend, or associate of a program

[[Page 34529]]

participant who, along with the participant, is an appropriate person 
with whom the public accommodation should communicate.'' Section 
36.303(c)(1)(ii) advises that public accommodations should be aware 
that the method of communication used by the individual and the nature, 
length, and complexity of the communication involved are factors to be 
considered by the public accommodation in determining what type of 
auxiliary aid or service is necessary. See, e.g., Department of 
Justice, The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III Technical 
Assistance Manual, Covering Public Accommodations and Commercial 
Facilities (Title III TA Manual), III-4.300, available at http://
www.ada.gov/taman3.html. For example, an individual with a disability 
who is deaf or hard of hearing may need a qualified interpreter to 
discuss with hospital personnel a diagnosis, procedures, tests, 
treatment options, surgery, or prescribed medication (e.g., dosage, 
side effects, drug interactions, etc.). In comparison, an individual 
who is deaf or hard of hearing who purchases an item in the hospital 
gift shop may only need an exchange of written notes to achieve 
effective communication.
    The Department is proposing to add companions to the scope of 
coverage of Sec.  36.303 to emphasize that the ADA applies in some 
instances in which a public accommodation needs to communicate with a 
family member, friend, or associate of the program participant in order 
to provide its services. Examples of such situations include when a 
school communicates with the parent of a child during a parent-teacher 
meeting or in a life-threatening situation, when a hospital needs to 
communicate with an injured person's companion to obtain necessary 
information. In such situations, if the companion is deaf or hard of 
hearing, blind, has low vision, or has a disability that affects his or 
her speech, it is the public accommodation's responsibility to provide 
appropriate auxiliary aid or service to communicate effectively with 
the companion. Where communication with a companion is necessary to 
serve the interests of a person who is participating in a public 
accommodation's services, programs, or activities, effective 
communication must be assured.
    Companions in health care settings. Effective communication is 
particularly critical in health care settings where miscommunication 
may lead to misdiagnosis and improper or delayed medical treatment. 
Under the ADA, hospitals must provide effective means of communication 
for patients and their companions with disabilities. The Department has 
encountered confusion and reluctance by medical care providers 
regarding the scope of their obligation with respect to such 
companions. Effective communication with a companion with a disability 
is necessary in a variety of circumstances. For example, a companion 
may be legally authorized to make health care decisions on behalf of 
the patient or may need to help the patient with information or 
instructions given by hospital personnel. In addition, a companion may 
be the patient's next of kin or health care surrogate with whom 
hospital personnel communicate concerning the patient's medical 
condition. Moreover, a companion could be designated by the patient to 
communicate with hospital personnel about the patient's symptoms, 
needs, condition, or medical history. It has been the Department's 
longstanding position that public accommodations are required to 
provide effective communication to companions when they accompany 
patients to medical care providers for treatment.
    Consultation on auxiliary aid or service. A public accommodation 
should consult with the individual with a disability, wherever 
possible, to determine what auxiliary aid or service would provide 
effective communication. In many cases, more than one auxiliary aid or 
service will provide effective communication, and the individual with a 
disability can provide invaluable information as to what auxiliary aids 
are effective. For example, it could be difficult to provide effective 
communication using written notes involving someone with a 
developmental disability or in severe pain, or if a public 
accommodation were to provide a qualified ASL interpreter, when an 
individual needs an oral interpreter instead. Both examples illustrate 
the importance of consulting with the individual with a disability.
    Proposed Sec.  36.303(c)(2) states that a public accommodation 
shall not require an individual with a disability to bring another 
individual to interpret for him or her. The Department is adding this 
language to emphasize that when a public accommodation is interacting 
with a person with a disability, it is the public accommodation's 
responsibility to provide an interpreter to ensure that the 
communication is as effective as its communications with others. It is 
not appropriate to require the person with a disability to bring 
another individual to provide such services or, when an accompanying 
individual is present, to expect that individual to provide such 
services.
    Limited instances in which an accompanying individual may 
interpret. Section 36.303(c)(3) codifies the Department's policy that 
there are very limited instances when a public accommodation may rely 
on an accompanying individual to interpret or facilitate communication: 
(1) In an emergency involving a threat to public safety or welfare; or 
(2) if the individual with a disability specifically requests it, the 
accompanying individual agrees to provide the assistance, and reliance 
on that individual for this assistance is appropriate under the 
circumstances. In such instances, the public accommodation is still 
required to offer to provide an interpreter free of charge. In no 
circumstances should a child be used to facilitate communication with a 
parent about a sensitive matter. The Department has produced a video 
and several publications that explain this and other ADA obligations in 
law enforcement settings. They may be viewed at http://www.ada.gov or 
ordered from the ADA Information Line (800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-
0383 (TTY)).
    Public accommodations must be aware that considerations of privacy, 
confidentiality, emotional involvement, and other factors may adversely 
affect the ability of family members or friends to facilitate 
communication. In addition, the Department stresses that privacy and 
confidentiality must be maintained. We note that covered entities, such 
as hospitals, that are subject to the Privacy Rules, 45 CFR parts 160, 
162, and 164, of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability 
Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, are permitted to disclose to a 
patient's relative, close friend, or any other person identified by the 
patient (such as an interpreter) relevant patient information if the 
patient agrees to such disclosures. The agreement need not be in 
writing. Covered entities should consult the HIPAA Privacy Rules 
regarding other ways disclosures might be able to be made to such 
persons.
    Telecommunications. The Department is proposing to reorganize Sec.  
36.303(d) and make several substantive changes that reflect changing 
terminology and technology.
    The heading ``Telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs)'' 
currently at Sec.  36.303(d) is replaced by the broader heading 
``Telecommunications.'' Paragraph (d)(1) is retitled, ``Telephones'' 
and altered to address situations in which a public accommodation must 
provide an effective means to communicate by telephone for individuals 
with disabilities, including the use of

[[Page 34530]]

automated attendant systems, which are electronic, automated systems 
and that are a common method for answering and directing incoming calls 
to places of public accommodation. The Department has become aware that 
individuals with disabilities who use TTYs or telecommunications relay 
services--primarily those who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have 
speech-related impairments--have been unable to use automated attendant 
systems because they are not compatible with TTYs or telecommunications 
relay services. Automated attendant systems often disconnect before the 
individual using one of these calling methods can complete the 
communication. The Department, therefore, proposes a new Sec.  
36.303(d)(1)(i) that requires that individuals using telecommunications 
relay services or TTYs must be able to connect to and use effectively 
any automated attendant system used by a public accommodation.
    The Department declined to address this issue in the 1991 
regulations because it believed that it was more appropriate for the 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address this in its 
rulemaking under title IV of the ADA. See 56 FR 35544, 35567 (July 26, 
1991). Because the FCC has since raised this concern with the 
Department and requested that the Department address it, it is now 
appropriate to raise this issue in the title III regulation.
    As mentioned above in the discussion of Sec.  36.303(b), the 
Department is replacing the term ``telecommunications devices for the 
deaf (TDDs)'' wherever it occurs throughout the proposed regulation 
with the term ``text telephones (TTYs).'' Thus, Sec.  36.303(d)(2) is 
entitled, ``Text telephones (TTY),'' and where ``TDD'' is used in this 
portion, it is replaced by ``TTY.'' Aside from these updates to 
terminology and adjustments to the section numbering, proposed Sec.  
36.303(d)(2) is unchanged substantively from current Sec.  36.303(d).
    Video interpreting services. Section 36.303(f) has been added to 
establish performance standards for video interpreting services (VIS), 
a system the Department recognizes as a means to provide qualified 
interpreters quickly and easily. VIS also has economic advantages, is 
readily available, and because of advances in video technology, can 
provide a high quality interpreting experience. Circumventing the 
difficulty of providing live interpreters quickly, more public 
accommodations are providing qualified interpreters via VIS.
    There are downsides to VIS, such as frozen images on the screen, or 
when an individual is in a medical care facility and is limited in 
moving his or her head, hands, or arms. Another downside is that the 
camera may mistakenly focus on an individual's head, which makes 
communication difficult or impossible. In addition, the accompanying 
audio transmission might be choppy or garbled, making spoken 
communication unintelligible. Lastly, the Department is aware of 
complaints that some public accommodations have difficulty setting up 
and operating VIS, because staff have not been appropriately trained.
    To address these potential problems, the Department is proposing 
the inclusion of four performance standards for VIS to ensure effective 
communication: (1) High quality, clear, real-time, full-motion video 
and audio over a dedicated high-speed Internet connection; (2) a clear, 
sufficiently large, and sharply delineated picture of the participant's 
heads, arms, hands, and fingers, regardless of his or her body 
position; (3) clear transmission of voices; and (4) nontechnicians who 
are trained to set up and operate VIS quickly.
    Finally, the changes enumerated above result in the current Sec.  
36.303(f), ``Alternatives,'' being moved to Sec.  36.303(h).
    Captioning at movie theaters. The Department is considering options 
under which it might require that movie theater owners and operators 
exhibit movies that are captioned for patrons who are deaf or hard of 
hearing. Both open and closed captioning are examples of auxiliary aids 
and services under the Department's regulation. 28 CFR 36.303(b)(1). 
Open captions are similar to subtitles in that the text is visible to 
everyone in the theater, while closed captioning displays the written 
text of the audio only to those individuals who request it. The ADA 
itself contains no explicit language regarding captioning in movie 
theaters, but the legislative history of title III states that, 
``[o]pen-captioning * * * of feature films playing in movie theaters, 
is not required by this legislation. Film makers, are, however, 
encouraged to produce and distribute open-captioned versions of films 
and theaters are encouraged to have at least some pre-announced 
screenings of a captioned version of feature films.'' H.R. Rep. No. 
101-485 (II), at 108 (1990), reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 303, 389-
91; S. Rep. No. 101-116 at 64 (1989). Congress was silent, however, on 
the question of closed captioning in movie theaters, a technology not 
yet developed at that time for first run movies, while acknowledging 
that closed captions may be an effective auxiliary aid and service for 
making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are 
deaf or hard of hearing. See H.R. Rep. No. 101-485 (II), at 108 (1990), 
reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 303, 391. In addition, Congress 
stated that ``technological advances can be expected to further enhance 
options for making meaningful and effective opportunities available to 
individuals with disabilities. Such advances may require public 
accommodations to provide auxiliary aids and services in the future 
which today would not be required because they would be held to impose 
undue burdens on such entities.'' Id.
    Similarly, in 1991, the Department stated that ``[m]ovie theaters 
are not required * * * to present open-captioned films,'' but was 
silent as to closed captioning. 56 FR 35544, 35567 (July 26, 1991). The 
Department also noted, however, that ``other public accommodations that 
impart verbal information through soundtracks on films, video tapes, or 
slide shows are required to make such information accessible to persons 
with hearing impairments. Captioning is one means to make the 
information accessible to individuals with disabilities.'' Id. The 
Department cited in its regulation ``open and closed captioning,'' as 
examples of auxiliary aids and services. 28 CFR 36.303(b)(1).
    Captioning makes films accessible to individuals whose hearing is 
too limited to benefit from assistive listening devices. Technological 
advances since the early 1990s have made open and closed captioning for 
movies more readily available and effective. Movie theater owners 
generally do not pay for open movie captions; rather, the cost 
generally is absorbed by the movie studios. Originally, the captions 
had to be burned onto select film prints, which would be distributed to 
theaters around the country. These prints usually were not captioned 
and distributed at the same time the movie was released to the general 
public, but only after a film had experienced some commercial success. 
This technology has evolved, however, and burning captions onto 
individual film prints is no longer necessary. Due to advances in 
digital technology, captions can be turned on or off in digital format 
without having to use a separate film print with the hard captions 
burned on. As a result, captions can be superimposed onto the film at 
theaters. In addition, digital projection systems send all captions and 
audio to the theaters on a hard disk or via satellite, and a digital 
projector is

[[Page 34531]]

used to display the movie. While movie theater owners need to purchase 
expensive projectors in order to display digital movies, the Department 
understands that movie theater operators are moving to digital film and 
are entering into creative agreements to help finance the projectors. 
Open captioning can now be done before a movie is released to the 
public.
    Closed captioning displays the written text of the audio only to 
those individuals who request captioning. With some closed captioning 
systems, the captions are displayed on the back wall of the theater as 
the movie is shown on the movie screen and reflected onto portable 
devices at the seats of patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. 
Another system involves captioning that the patron receives through 
electronic devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), using 
mobile wireless technology. The individual wears a pair of glasses or a 
head band that plugs into the PDA (i.e., a wireless transmitter sends 
the captions to each moviegoer using the device), and that produces 
``floating'' captions that appear as if they are several meters in 
front of the viewer's eyes. Significantly, more than half of the 
feature films produced by the major movie studios now provide some form 
of captioning.
    While the Department has not required that the movie theater 
industry caption its presentations, during the mid-1990s, as closed 
captioning became available, the Department began requiring in certain 
settlement agreements that presentations be closed captioned. See 
Agreement Between Walt Disney World Co. and the United States (Jan. 17, 
1997), available at http://www.ada.gov/disagree.htm (requiring 
captioning for film, video, and video monitors that are part of an 
attraction or that provide information).
    The Department is aware that the courts have split on the question 
of whether captioning should be provided at movie theaters. See Ball v. 
AMC Entm't, 246 F. Supp. 2d 17 (D.D.C. 2003) (denying defendant movie 
operators' motion for summary judgment and noting that a closed 
captioned system is an auxiliary aid or service that could be required 
under the ADA); Cornilles v. Regal Cinema, No. Civ. 00-173-AS, 2001 WL 
34041789 (D. Or. Dec. 11, 2001) (unpub. op.) (rejecting plaintiff's 
request that all films at a movie theater be captioned, noting that 
defendants already provide some captioning); Todd v. American Multi-
Cinema, Inc., No. Civ. A. H-02-1944, 2004 WL 1764686 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 5, 
2004) (unpub. op.) (granting summary judgment for defendant because of 
plaintiffs' inability to rebut defendants' claims that providing a 
specific type of closed captioning constituted an undue burden). The 
judge in the Ball case cited legislative history for the proposition 
that captioning may be required, noting that technological advances may 
``require public accommodations to provide auxiliary aids and services 
in the future which today would not be required'' and that the type of 
accommodation and services provided * * * [under the ADA] should ``keep 
pace with the rapidly changing technology of the times.'' 246 F. Supp. 
2d at 22 (citing H.R. Rep. No. 101-485(II) at 108).
    Several state Attorney General Offices around the country have 
begun negotiating agreements and, in some instances, initiating 
lawsuits to ensure that movie theater owners and operators provide 
captioning at certain movie screenings.
    Although captioning was not mentioned in the ANPRM, two commenters 
requested that captioning be provided and a movie theater owner urged 
the Department not to require movie theaters to provide captioning or 
narrative description services.
    The Department is considering options under which it might require 
captioning for movies exhibited by public accommodations, while 
recognizing that the movie industry is in transition as more movies are 
made in digital format and movie theater owners and operators begin to 
purchase digital projectors. Movie theater owners and operators with 
digital projectors have available to them different options for 
providing captioning than those without digital projectors. The 
Department is aware of the flux in the technology used to exhibit 
movies and seeks comments regarding how to require captioning while the 
film industry transitions to a digital format. Also, the Department is 
concerned about the potential cost to exhibit captioned movies, 
although that cost may vary depending upon whether open or closed 
captioning is used and whether or not digital projectors are used. The 
Department is cognizant that the cost of captioning must stay within 
the parameters of the undue burden requirement in 28 CFR 36.303(a).
    The Department is considering the possibility of requiring that, 
after the effective date of the revised regulation, a public 
accommodation will exhibit all new movies in captioned format at every 
showing. The Department would not specify which types of captioning to 
provide, but would instead leave that to the discretion of the movie 
theater owners and operators.
    Question 24: Should the Department require that, one year after the 
effective date of this regulation, public accommodations exhibit all 
new movies in captioned format at every showing? Is it more appropriate 
to require captioning less frequently? Should the requirement for 
captioning be tied to the conversion of movies from film to the use of 
a digital format? Please include specifics regarding how frequently 
captioning should be provided.
    Narrative description. The Department is also considering options 
under which it might require that movie theater owners and operators 
exhibit movies with narrative descriptions, which enable individuals 
who are blind or have low vision to enjoy movies by providing a spoken 
interpretation of key visual elements of a movie, such as actions, 
settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes. The 
descriptions are narrated and recorded onto an audiotape or disk that 
can be synchronized with the film as it is projected. For example, a 
special reader head attached to the film projector can read a timecode 
track printed on the film, which then sends a signal using an infrared 
or FM transmitter to the theater where the narration can be heard on 
headsets equipped with receivers and worn by the movie patron.
    As with captioning, the same two issues arise with this technology: 
the cost and the change to digital movies and projectors. The 
Department understands that the cost of narrative description equipment 
is less than that for closed captioning. Generally, movie studios 
contract with entities to provide the narrative description, and it can 
be done at the same time captioning is created. The Department 
understands that when theaters move to digital technology, both the 
caption data and the narrative descriptions can be embedded into the 
digital signal that is projected.
    Question 25: Should the Department require that, one year after the 
effective date of this revised regulation, a public accommodation will 
exhibit all new movies with narrative description? Would it be more 
appropriate to require narrative description less frequently? Should 
the requirement for narrative description of movies be tied to the use 
of a digital format? If so, why? Please include specifics regarding how 
frequently narrative description should be provided.
    Captioning at sporting venues. The Department is aware that 
individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have expressed concerns 
that they are unaware of information that is provided over the public 
address systems.

[[Page 34532]]

Therefore, in Sec.  36.303(g), the Department is proposing that sports 
stadiums with a capacity of 25,000 or more provide captioning for 
patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing for safety and emergency 
information announcements made over the public address system. There 
are various options that could be used for providing captioning, such 
as on a scoreboard, on a line board, on a handheld device, or other 
methods.
    Question 26: The Department believes that requiring captioning of 
safety and emergency information made over the public address system in 
stadiums seating fewer than 25,000 has the potential of creating an 
undue burden for smaller entities. However, the Department requests 
public comment about the effect of requiring captioning of emergency 
announcements in all stadiums, regardless of size. Would such a 
requirement be feasible for small stadiums?
    Question 27: The Department is considering requiring captioning of 
safety and emergency information in sports stadiums with a capacity of 
25,000 or more within a year of the effective date of the regulation. 
Would a larger threshold, such as sports stadiums with a capacity of 
50,000 or more, be more appropriate or would a lower threshold, such as 
stadiums with a capacity of 15,000 or more, be more appropriate?
    Question 28: If the Department adopted a requirement for captioning 
at sports stadiums, should there be a specific means required? That is, 
should it be provided through any effective means (scoreboards, line 
boards, handheld devices, or other means), or are there problems with 
some means, such as handheld devices, that should eliminate them as 
options?
    Question 29: The Department is aware that several major stadiums 
that host sporting events, including National Football League football 
games at Fed Ex Field in Prince Georges County, Maryland, currently 
provide open captioning of all public address announcements, and do not 
limit captioning to safety and emergency information. What would be the 
effect of a requirement to provide captioning for patrons who are deaf 
or hard of hearing for game-related information (e.g., play-by-play 
information), safety and emergency information, and any other relevant 
announcements?

Section 36.304 Removal of Barriers

    The Department is offering for public comment several proposed 
additions to Sec.  36.304, which requires the removal of architectural 
or communications barriers that are structural in nature when it is 
readily achievable to do so. These proposed additions are designed to 
mitigate financial burdens on covered entities, while at the same time 
ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to existing 
facilities. Discussed below, in turn, is a proposal for a safe harbor 
provision and a reduced scoping option that would apply to all public 
accommodations, as well as a proposal for a safe harbor provision and 
an exemption that would apply only to qualified small businesses as 
defined in Sec.  36.104.
    The proposed additions stem from the Department's proposal to adopt 
the 2004 ADAAG and from comments the Department received in response to 
its ANPRM from small business advocates expressing concern with the 
Department's interpretation of the barrier removal requirement. The 
reason that the Department's proposal to adopt the 2004 ADAAG is 
relevant to barrier removal is that the Department approaches barrier 
removal by reference to the alterations standard. 28 CFR 36.304(d)(1); 
56 FR 35544, 35570 (July 26, 1991). To the extent that it is readily 
achievable to do so, public accommodations must comply with the 
requirement for alterations by following the accessibility standards in 
Appendix A of the existing regulation. Id. By specifying that covered 
entities follow the 1991 Standards, the regulation provides clear 
guidance on both what constitutes a barrier and how to make an existing 
facility accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Id.
    Because the Department uses the 1991 Standards as a guide to 
identify what constitutes a barrier, the proposed standards will 
provide a new reference point in assessing an entity's obligations for 
readily achievable barrier removal. As discussed above, the 2004 ADAAG 
contains several changes from the 1991 Standards. Some of those changes 
are additions; the 2004 ADAAG introduces requirements for elements in 
facility types, like recreational facilities and play areas, that are 
not in the 1991 Standards. In other situations the changes are 
incremental, and were added either because of additional study by the 
Access Board or in order to harmonize requirements with the model 
codes. It is the incremental changes that are relevant to the 
Department's first proposed addition to Sec.  36.304, the proposal of 
an element-by-element safe harbor for all public accommodations. The 
Department has prepared a detailed matrix that identifies both the 
incremental changes and the new requirements in Appendix 8 of its 
Regulatory Impact Analysis, which is available for public review at 
http://www.ada.gov. The elements listed as numbers 1 through 66 on the 
matrix are incremental changes that the Department deems to be subject 
to the safe harbor.
    The safe harbors discussed in the following paragraphs are 
available for specific building elements that comply with the 1991 
Standards. If a public accommodation identified barriers but did not 
remove them because it was not readily achievable because of cost 
considerations, that public accommodation has a continuing obligation 
to remove those barriers if the economic considerations for the public 
accommodation change. For example, a business upturn may provide the 
ability to pay for physical changes to the facility, or technological 
advances may have reduced the costs of a previously expensive 
modification. Regardless of the reason that barrier removal has not yet 
been accomplished, any barrier removal undertaken after the effective 
date of this rule must comply with the proposed standards to the extent 
that it is readily achievable to do so.
    Element-by-element safe harbor for public accommodations. The 
Department is proposing to amend Sec.  36.304(d) in order to adopt a 
safe harbor for elements in existing facilities that comply with the 
1991 Standards, or option I in the ANPRM. This provision is proposed 
Sec.  36.304(d)(2). What is currently Sec.  36.304(d)(2) in the 
regulation would be redesignated as Sec.  36.304(d)(6). Specifically, 
the new Sec.  36.304(d)(2) codifies a safe harbor for all elements that 
are in compliance with the specific requirements--both the scoping and 
technical specifications--of the 1991 Standards. Elements in existing 
facilities that are not altered after the effective date of this rule, 
and that comply with the 1991 Standards, are not required to be 
modified in order to comply with the proposed standards.
    This safe harbor provision is not a blanket exemption for 
facilities. Compliance with the 1991 Standards is determined on an 
element-by-element basis in each covered facility. As noted, elements 
that the Access Board addressed for the first time in the supplemental 
guidelines (e.g., play area requirements introduced in the supplemental 
guidelines, etc.) would not be subject to the safe harbor. Of course, 
this safe harbor would have no effect on noncompliant elements. Barrier 
removal is an ongoing obligation. To the extent that elements in 
existing facilities that impose barriers are not already in compliance 
with the 1991 Standards, public accommodations would be required to 
modify such

[[Page 34533]]

elements to comply with the proposed standards.
    The proposed safe harbor reflects the Department's determination 
that it would be an inefficient use of resources to require covered 
entities that have complied with the 1991 Standards to retrofit 
elements simply to comply with the proposed standards if the change 
provides only a minimal improvement in accessibility. To a substantial 
degree, the barrier has already been removed. In addition, covered 
entities would have a strong disincentive for voluntary compliance if, 
every time the applicable standards are revised, covered entities are 
required once again to modify elements simply to keep pace with new 
proposals.
    The Department recognizes, however, that there are also 
considerations opposing this approach. While the incremental benefit of 
the revisions may be minimal with respect to some elements, with 
respect to others the proposed standards may confer a significant 
benefit on some individuals with disabilities that would be 
unavailable--except of course when public accommodations and commercial 
facilities undergo alterations or new construction--if this option is 
adopted. Because there are valid arguments on both sides of this issue, 
the Department sought public comment on this issue in its ANPRM.
    General comments regarding safe harbor. The Department received 
numerous comments on this option in the ANPRM. Generally, covered 
entities favored a safe harbor, while entities representing individuals 
with disabilities did not. Some disability rights groups, however, 
favored the safe harbor, arguing that the marginal improvements in 
accessibility were insufficient to ask entities to retrofit elements 
that work for most individuals with disabilities. One disability rights 
group commented that proposing new standards without a safe harbor 
would penalize compliant businesses, who would have to pay for 
retrofits twice, and reward scofflaws, who would have avoided the 
expense of complying with the current law. Some businesses opposed the 
application of a safe harbor and, instead, encouraged the government to 
consider other avenues for reducing costs, like providing tax relief 
for businesses. A tax credit is already available to small businesses 
(as defined in the tax code), and larger businesses can receive a tax 
deduction. 26 U.S.C. 44.
    Several disability groups and state advocacy centers felt that 
there was no need for a safe harbor because the statute already 
controls costs by limiting required actions to what is ``readily 
achievable.'' 28 CFR 36.304. The statutory defense maximizes 
accessibility by requiring case-specific, individualized determinations 
that excuse strict compliance when it is too difficult or costly. The 
safe harbor, by contrast, would exempt even some actions that are 
readily achievable. Similarly, disability rights groups objected to a 
blanket rule when the facilities at issue vary so greatly, arguing that 
large companies should be able to do more to provide accessibility than 
smaller businesses.
    A broad cross section of industries and advocates for industry 
favored the safe harbor approach organizations representing retail 
establishments, hotels and lodging, and recreational facilities. These 
entities raised issues related to cost, reliance on federal law, and 
fair play. Industry advocates were concerned not only with the cost of 
making the actual changes, but also with the cost of assessing their 
facilities for compliance with the incremental changes, arguing that 
the money would be better spent on other, higher priority accessibility 
measures.
    As noted earlier in the general discussion of the safe harbor 
proposals, some commenters proposed that the Department treat the 
proposed standards like most building codes when they are updated and 
apply them prospectively only. Under the International Building Code, 
for example, an existing structure is generally grandfathered provided 
that the building meets a minimum level of safety. See International 
Code Council, International Bldg. Code, Commentary, section I.206 
(2003); International Existing Bldg. Code, Commentary, section 101.4 
(2003).
    While the Department agrees generally with the goal of aiming for 
consistency between the ADA Standards and building codes--indeed, great 
effort in the development of the 2004 ADAAG was undertaken to create 
consistency with building codes where possible--there are critical 
differences between the 2004 ADAAG and building codes. The ADA is a 
civil rights statute, not a building and safety code. Its primary goal 
is to ensure access and equality for individuals with disabilities. It 
is also a relatively new law, and much of the built environment remains 
inaccessible. Nevertheless, the Department is asking for public input 
on a more limited version of this approach that would exempt owners and 
operators of places of public accommodation from compliance with the 
supplemental requirements for play areas and recreation facilities.
    Specific areas of dispute. Commenters expressed specific concern 
with the application of a safe harbor to four discrete areas: reach 
ranges, ATMs, seating in assembly areas, and access to swimming pools. 
Part of the reason the Department received so many comments about reach 
ranges and swimming pools may owe to the fact that the Department used 
these requirements in its ANPRM in order to illustrate the application 
of a safe harbor. With the exception of swimming pools, which are 
discussed below in Sec.  36.304(d)(4)(ii), these concerns are 
addressed, in turn, in the following paragraphs.
    Maximum side reach ranges. Reach ranges apply to a variety of 
building elements, including light switches, key pads, electrical 
outlets, fire alarm pulls, card readers, thermostats, elevator 
controls, pay phones, and other elements. The 2004 ADAAG includes a 
change in the maximum height of a side reach range from 54 inches in 
the current ADA Standards, to 48 inches in the 2004 ADAAG. The change 
related to the needs of little people, and, not surprisingly, the most 
vocal opposition for a safe harbor came from groups representing little 
people. Commenters argued that the lowered height of operable controls 
can mean the difference between independence and dependence. One 
individual argued that little people can become trapped in elevators, 
posing serious safety risks, when the controls are over 48 inches high. 
Two groups strongly opposed a safe harbor for side reach ranges, one of 
which estimated that the revised reach range will provide access to an 
additional half million individuals with disabilities.
    Industry commenters asserted that requiring existing facilities to 
apply the new requirement would mean, among other things, that entities 
would be required to lower every light switch in every building to the 
extent it is readily achievable. One business group noted that 
thousands of businesses have already internalized the cost of lowering 
operating controls from 60 inches to 54 inches to comply with the 1991 
Standards, and that an additional retrofit would require an additional 
commitment of funds. A small business association stated that lowering 
pay phones would be a significant expense to the pay phone industry, 
which is already incurring losses due to the introduction of cell 
phones on the market. Other associations expressed concerns about 
vending machines, most of which now comply with the 54-inch reach 
range.
    Potential solutions that do not require structural modifications 
were offered by

[[Page 34534]]

disability advocacy groups. One national advocacy group stated that 
public accommodations could provide relatively low-cost solutions to 
the problem, such as light switch extension handles or other 
inexpensive alternatives to relocating operating controls. Some 
commenters noted that, while it is not an ideal solution, individuals 
of short stature may choose to carry equipment that would enable them 
to reach controls.
    Independence and ready accessibility are significant goals in the 
ADA. The Department would like to hear further from individuals of 
short stature whether there are discrete areas--like operating controls 
in elevators--that are either significant to daily living or pose 
safety risks that cannot be ameliorated by extension handles or 
similar, less expensive devices. The 48-inch maximum reach range would 
apply fully to alterations and new construction. Similarly, elements 
that do not comply with the existing requirement of a 48-inch reach 
range would also be required to meet the new 48-inch reach range.
    ATMs. Several commenters expressed concern about the application of 
a safe harbor to ATMs. Specifically, ``talking ATMs''--or ATMs with 
speech output that are independently usable by individuals who are 
blind or have low vision--are an important issue for one advocacy 
group, as well as for the banking and ATM industries. The 1991 
Standards use a performance test, requiring that ``[i]nstructions and 
all information for use shall be made accessible to and independently 
usable by persons with vision impairments.'' 28 CFR part 36, App. A, 
section 4.34.4. The 2004 ADAAG has a similar requirement that more 
specifically spells out what is necessary for ATMs to be speech-
enabled. Under the 2004 ADAAG, there are specific design requirements 
for speech output, and speech must be delivered through a mechanism 
that is readily available to all users. See 2004 ADAAG section 707.5.
    Some individuals who are blind or have low vision fear that a safe 
harbor would derail the efforts they have made to ensure that ATMs have 
speech output. The banking and ATM industries object to retrofitting 
all existing ATMs, arguing it requires both hardware and software 
changes that can be expensive in certain cases. They also argue that 
retrofitting is inefficient, since most machines, especially those in 
banks, are replaced every seven to nine years, a relatively short life 
span compared to other elements in facilities, and will be updated when 
they are replaced.
    Because new ATMs are generally equipped with speech output, this is 
a time-limited issue that really affects a discrete group of stand-
alone ATMs in rural areas or small retail locations, like gas stations 
or convenience stores. Industry commenters describe a practice by which 
used machines in urban areas or larger banks are generally sold to 
smaller entities or placed in rural areas as new machines are 
purchased. ATMs vary in their technological sophistication, and it is 
more expensive to adapt the smaller, stand-alone machines.
    Even though the ATM requirement appears in the 1991 Standards, the 
Department has traditionally treated the speech or communication 
element as subject to the requirements for auxiliary aids and services 
in Sec.  36.303. The Department's preamble to its regulation explained 
that, ``[g]iven that Sec.  36.304's proper focus is on the removal of 
physical barriers, the Department believes that the obligation to 
provide communications equipment and devices * * * is more 
appropriately determined by the requirements for auxiliary aids and 
services under Sec.  36.303.'' 56 FR 35544, 35568. When the Department 
later discussed ATMs as they relate to barrier removal in the 1991 
regulation, the Department referred only to those aspects of the ATM 
that make it physically accessible to individuals with mobility 
disabilities. Id.
    The safe harbor provision applies only to readily achievable 
barrier removal; the Department is not planning to apply a safe harbor 
to the requirement for auxiliary aids and services. ATMs that lack 
speech output are not eligible for a safe harbor. Although the 
Department is not applying a safe harbor to the communication-related 
requirements on ATMs, the Department is proposing a new section dealing 
with equipment that the Department hopes will resolve some of the 
concerns raised by both sides. The issue of whether it is permissible 
for an entity to purchase used ATMs that do not have speech output 
remains an open question, and the Department is proposing questions 
designed to elicit more specific feedback from the industry in the 
section dealing with equipment. The Department offers for comment a 
narrowly drawn exemption for small, stand-alone ATMs, in which entities 
would be allowed to purchase used ATMs without speech output in certain 
circumstances.
    Stadium-style theaters. Finally, commenters expressed concern 
regarding the application of a safe harbor to stadium-style theaters. 
Lines of sight and dispersal of wheelchair seating in assembly areas, 
especially in stadium-style theaters, have been the subject of 
litigation. The 1991 Standards require that wheelchair seating 
``provide people with physical disabilities a choice of admissions 
prices and lines of sight comparable to those for members of the 
general public.'' The 2004 ADAAG adopts specific design guidelines for 
lines of sight and the dispersal of wheelchair seating. Cf. 28 CFR part 
36, App. A, section 4.33.3; 2004 ADAAG sections 221, 802. As the 
Department explained in the ANPRM, however, this guideline is merely 
the codification of longstanding Department policy. Because the 
requirements in the 2004 ADAAG are not a change from that policy, 
entities that comply with the Department's policy will also be in 
compliance with the relevant provisions in the proposed standards.
    Reduced scoping for public accommodations, small facilities, and 
qualified small businesses. As noted above, the Department is still 
considering the possibility of developing an alternative set of reduced 
scoping requirements for certain elements that were not subject to 
specific scoping and technical requirements in the 1991 Standards. 
Business entities were generally in favor of exemptions and reduced 
scoping, although most of the comments addressed elements in compliance 
with technical and scoping requirements in the 1991 Standards (e.g., 
the maximum side reach range). Disability advocacy groups and 
individuals strongly objected to exemptions and to significantly 
reduced scoping, arguing that the 2004 ADAAG represents minimum 
standards, and that the readily achievable standard already provides 
enough flexibility to covered entities.
    The Department believes that reduced scoping for a select few 
specifications in the context of barrier removal is a moderate and 
reasonable response to business entities' concerns about the potential 
for increased costs of compliance and litigation risk when the 
Department adopts the 2004 ADAAG. Reduced scoping reflects the 
determination that, while some requirements make sense for alterations 
and new construction, in the barrier removal context they might not 
because of the expense or nature of the measure required. Given the 
disparity in size and resources among the entities that fall within the 
ambit of public accommodations, reduced scoping would be justified only 
for supplemental elements that are particularly complicated and 
expensive

[[Page 34535]]

to retrofit. Based on comments in the ANPRM and the Department's 
initial regulatory assessment, the Department has identified ten 
elements for which the Department believes reduced scoping might be 
appropriate for barrier removal: play areas, swimming pools, wading 
pools, saunas and steam rooms, exercise machines, team or player 
seating areas, areas of sport activity, boating facilities, fishing 
piers and platforms, and miniature golf courses.
    Play areas. Sections 206.2.17, 206.7.8, and 240.1 of the 2004 ADAAG 
provide a detailed set of requirements for newly constructed and 
altered play areas. At least one ground level play component of each 
type provided (e.g., for different experiences such as rocking, 
swinging, climbing, spinning, and sliding) must be accessible and 
connected to an accessible route. In addition, if elevated play 
components are provided, entities must make at least fifty percent 
(50%) of the elevated play components accessible and connect them to an 
accessible route, and may have to make an additional number of ground 
level play components (representing different types) accessible as 
well. There are a number of exceptions to the technical specifications 
for accessible routes, and there are special rules (incorporated by 
reference from nationally recognized standards for accessibility and 
safety in play areas) for accessible ground surfaces. Accessible ground 
surfaces must be inspected and maintained regularly and frequently to 
ensure continued compliance.
    The Department is concerned about the potential impact of these 
supplemental requirements on existing play areas that are not otherwise 
being altered. Consequently, the Department is proposing several 
specific provisions and posing additional questions in an effort to 
both mitigate and gather information about the potential burden of the 
supplemental requirements on existing facilities.
    State and local governments may have already adopted accessibility 
standards or codes similar to the 2004 ADAAG requirements for play and 
recreation areas, but which might have some differences from the Access 
Board's guidelines.
    Question 30: The Department would welcome comment on whether there 
are state and local standards specifically regarding play and 
recreation area accessibility. To the extent that there are such 
standards, we would welcome comment on whether facilities currently 
governed by, and in compliance with, such state and local standards or 
codes should be subject to a safe harbor from compliance with 
applicable requirements in the 2004 ADAAG. We would also welcome 
comment on whether it would be appropriate for the Access Board to 
consider implementation of guidelines that would permit such a safe 
harbor with respect to play and recreation areas undertaking 
alterations.
    Question 31: The Department requests public comment with respect to 
the application of these requirements to existing play areas. What is 
the ``tipping point'' at which the costs of compliance with the 
supplemental requirements for existing play areas would be so 
burdensome that the entity would simply shut down the playground?
    The Department notes that section 240.1 of the 2004 ADAAG specifies 
that play areas located in family child care facilities where the 
proprietor actually resides are exempt from the scoping and technical 
requirements for play areas. Thus, such family child care facility 
owners have no obligation to make similar changes for their existing 
facilities for purposes of barrier removal. According to the Access 
Board, these family child care facilities are typically located in 
private homes, serve a relatively small number of children (usually no 
more than twelve) at any given time, and install simple and inexpensive 
playground equipment for which accessible products are less likely to 
be readily available. For such facilities, moreover, the cost of 
providing an accessible ground surface could far exceed the cost of the 
equipment itself, increasing the likelihood that the home owner will 
simply decide not to provide any playground equipment. While this 
exception may limit the accessibility of play areas in home-based child 
care facilities, such facilities would remain subject to the ADA's 
general requirement to ensure that individuals with disabilities have 
an equal opportunity to enjoy the services of their facilities.
    The Department proposes to add Sec.  36.304(d)(4)(i) to provide 
that, for purposes of the readily achievable barrier removal 
requirement, existing play areas that are less than 1,000 square feet 
in size are exempt from the scoping and technical requirements for play 
areas in the 2004 ADAAG found in section 240 of the proposed standards. 
The Department selected this size based on the provision in section 
1008.2.4.1 of the 2004 ADAAG, Exception 1, permitting play areas less 
than 1,000 square feet in size to provide accessible routes with a 
reduced clear width (44 inches instead of 60 inches). In its 2000 
regulatory assessment for the play area guidelines, the Access Board 
assumed that such ``small'' play areas represent one hundred percent 
(100%) of the play areas located in restaurants, the largest proportion 
(between sixty to eighty percent (60-80%)) of the play areas located in 
hotels and day care facilities, and about twenty percent (20%) of the 
play areas located in schools. (The Access Board assumed that play 
areas in city and state parks are typically larger than 1,000 square 
feet.) If these assumptions are correct, the proposed exemption would 
have the greatest impact upon existing play areas located in 
restaurants, hotels, and day care facilities and would have relatively 
little impact on existing play areas located in schools or parks.
    Question 32: The Department would like to hear from public 
accommodations and individuals with disabilities about the potential 
effect of this approach. Should existing play areas less than 1,000 
square feet be exempt from the requirements applicable to play areas?
    The Department also proposes to add Sec.  36.304(d)(3)(i) to 
provide that, for purposes of the readily achievable barrier removal 
requirement, existing play areas will be permitted to meet a reduced 
scoping requirement with respect to their elevated play components. 
Elevated play components are play components that are approached above 
or below grade and that are part of a composite play structure 
consisting of two or more components that are attached or functionally 
linked to create an integrated unit providing more than one play 
activity. The proposed standards provide that a play area that includes 
both ground level and elevated play components must ensure that a 
specified number of the ground level play components and at least fifty 
percent (50%) of the elevated play components are accessible.
    Many commenters advised the Department that making elevated play 
components accessible in the barrier removal context would exceed what 
is readily achievable for most facilities. Given the nature of the 
element at issue, retrofitting existing elevated play components in 
play areas to meet the scoping and technical specifications in the 
alteration standard would be difficult and costly, and in some 
instances, infeasible. In response to expressed concerns, the 
Department proposes to reduce the scoping for existing play areas 
undertaking barrier removal by permitting entities to substitute ground 
level play components for elevated play components. Entities that 
provide elevated play components that do not

[[Page 34536]]

comply with the 2004 ADAAG section 240.2.2 would be deemed in 
compliance with their barrier removal obligations as long as the number 
of accessible ground level play components is equal to the sum of (a) 
the number of ground level play components required to comply with the 
2004 ADAAG section 240.2.1 (as provided by Table 240.2.1.2, but at 
least one of each type) and (b) the number of elevated play components 
required to comply with the 2004 ADAAG section 240.2.2 (namely, fifty 
percent (50%) of all elevated play components). In existing play areas 
that provide a limited number of ground level play components, 
qualifying for this exception may require providing additional ground 
level play components.
    While this provision may result in less accessibility than the 
application of the alteration standard where readily achievable, public 
accommodations will likely be more willing to voluntarily undertake 
barrier removal measures in play areas if they anticipate that 
compliance will be straightforward and readily achievable in most 
instances. In addition, for existing play areas with limited resources, 
it will often be more efficient to devote resources to making the 
ground surface of the play area accessible, which is necessary to 
provide an accessible route to any play components. Reduced scoping for 
elevated play components could also minimize the risk that covered 
entities will delay compliance, remove elevated play components, or 
simply close the play area. It also provides a bright-line rule for 
which compliance can be easily evaluated.
    Question 33: The Department would like to hear from public 
accommodations and individuals with disabilities about the potential 
effect of this approach. Should existing play areas be permitted to 
substitute additional ground level play components for the elevated 
play components it would otherwise have been required to make 
accessible?
    Question 34: The Department would welcome comment on whether it 
would be appropriate for the Access Board to consider implementation of 
guidelines for play and recreational facilities undertaking alterations 
that would permit reduced scoping of requirements or substitution of 
ground level play components in lieu of elevated play components, as 
the Department is proposing with respect to barrier removal obligations 
for certain play or recreational facilities.
    The Department is also considering reducing the scoping for sites 
with multiple existing play areas designed for the same age group. 
Where separate play areas are provided within a single site, even if 
each play area serves the same age group and provides the same types of 
play components, the 2004 ADAAG would require each play area to comply. 
In existing facilities that are not being altered, where multiple play 
areas designed for a particular age group are provided, the Department 
is considering requiring only one play area to be made accessible.
    Question 35: Should the Department require only one play area of 
each type to comply in existing sites with multiple play areas? Are 
there other select requirements applicable to play areas in the 2004 
ADAAG for which the Department should consider exemptions or reduced 
scoping?
    Swimming pools. The Department is proposing two specific provisions 
to minimize the potential impact of the supplemental requirements on 
existing swimming pools. First, the Department is proposing to add 
Sec.  36.304(d)(3)(ii) to provide that, for purposes of the readily 
achievable barrier removal requirement, swimming pools that have at 
least 300 linear feet of swimming pool wall will be required to provide 
only one (rather than two) accessible means of entry, which must be a 
sloped entry or a pool lift. This provision represents a less stringent 
requirement than section 242.2 of the 2004 ADAAG, which requires such 
pools, when newly constructed or altered, to provide two accessible 
means of entry. Under this proposal, for barrier removal purposes, 
public accommodations would be required to have at least one accessible 
entry where readily achievable to do so.
    Commenters responding to the ANPRM noted that the two-means-of-
entry-standard, if applied in the barrier removal context, will 
disproportionately affect small businesses, both in terms of the cost 
of implementing the standard and anticipated litigation costs. Larger 
covered entities benefit from economies of scale, which are not 
available to small businesses. Although complying with the alteration 
standard will not be readily achievable for many small businesses (at 
least not complete compliance), the litigation-related costs of proving 
that compliance is not readily achievable may be significant. Moreover, 
these commenters argue, the immediacy of perceived noncompliance with 
the standard--it will usually be readily apparent whether a public 
accommodation has the required accessible entry or entries--makes this 
element particularly vulnerable to serial ADA litigation. The reduced 
scoping would apply to all existing public accommodations, regardless 
of size.
    The Department recognizes that this approach could reduce the 
accessibility of larger swimming pools compared to the requirements in 
the 2004 ADAAG. Individuals with disabilities and advocates were 
particularly concerned about the accessibility of pools, and noted that 
for many people with disabilities, swimming is one of the few types of 
exercise that is generally accessible and, for some people, can be an 
important part of maintaining health. Other commenters noted that 
having two accessible means of egress from a pool can be a significant 
safety feature in the event of an emergency. It may be, however, that 
as a practical matter the reduction in scoping may not be significant, 
as the measures required to meet the alteration standards for 
accessible entries would often not be readily achievable even if 
considered on a case-by-case basis.
    Question 36: The Department would like to hear from public 
accommodations and individuals with disabilities about this exemption. 
Should the Department allow existing public accommodations to provide 
only one accessible means of access to swimming pools more than 300 
linear feet long?
    The Department also proposes to add Sec.  36.304(d)(4)(ii) to 
provide that, for purposes of the readily achievable barrier removal 
requirement, existing swimming pools that have less than 300 linear 
feet of swimming pool wall will be exempt from the provisions of 
section 242.2 of the 2004 ADAAG. In its 2002 regulatory assessment for 
the recreation guidelines, the Access Board assumed that pools with 
less than 300 feet of linear pool wall would represent ninety percent 
(90%) of the pools in high schools; eighty percent (80%) of the pools 
in hotels and motels; seventy percent (70%) of the pools in exercise 
and sports facilities; forty percent (40%) of the pools in public parks 
and community centers (e.g., YMCAs); and thirty percent (30%) of the 
pools in colleges and universities.
    Question 37: The Department would like to hear from public 
accommodations and individuals with disabilities about the potential 
effect of this approach. Should existing swimming pools with less than 
300 linear feet of pool wall be exempt from the requirements applicable 
to swimming pools?
    Finally, the Department is interested in collecting information 
regarding the number of existing facilities that provide more than one 
swimming pool on a site. The Department is considering creating an 
exception that would permit existing facilities with multiple

[[Page 34537]]

swimming pools on a site to make only one of each type of swimming pool 
accessible.
    Question 38: What types of facilities provide more than one 
swimming pool on a site? In such facilities, do the pools tend to be 
identical or do they differ in type (e.g., in size, configuration, 
function, or use)?
    Wading pools. Section 242.3 of the 2004 ADAAG provides that newly 
constructed or altered wading pools must provide at least one sloped 
means of entry to the deepest part of the pool. The Department is 
concerned that installing a sloped entry in existing wading pools may 
not be feasible for a significant proportion of covered entities and is 
considering creating an exemption for existing wading pools that are 
not being altered. The Department is also interested in collecting 
information regarding the number of existing facilities that provide 
more than one wading pool on a site. As an alternative to an exemption 
for all existing wading pools, the Department is considering creating 
an exception that would permit existing facilities with multiple wading 
pools on a site to make only one of each type of pool accessible.
    Question 39: What site constraints exist in existing facilities 
that could make it difficult or infeasible to install a sloped entry in 
an existing wading pool? Should existing wading pools that are not 
being altered be exempt from the requirement to provide a sloped entry? 
What types of facilities provide more than one wading pool on a site? 
In such facilities, do the pools tend to be identical or do they differ 
in type (e.g., in size, configuration, function or use)?
    Saunas and steam rooms. The Department is proposing one specific 
provision to minimize the potential impact of the supplemental 
requirements on existing saunas and steam rooms. Section 241 of the 
2004 ADAAG requires newly constructed or altered saunas and steam rooms 
to meet accessibility requirements, including accessible turning space 
and an accessible bench. Where saunas or steam rooms are provided in 
clusters, five percent (5%), but at least one sauna or steam room in 
each cluster, will have to be accessible. The Department understands 
that many saunas are manufactured (pre-fabricated) and come in standard 
sizes (e.g., two-person or four-person), and that the two-person size 
may not be large enough to meet the turning space requirement. 
Therefore, the Department proposes in Sec.  36.304(d)(4)(iii) to 
specify that, for purposes of the readily achievable barrier removal 
requirement, existing saunas or steam rooms that have a capacity of 
only two persons are exempt from the scoping and technical requirements 
for saunas and steam rooms in section 241 of the 2004 ADAAG. While this 
exception may limit the accessibility of small existing saunas or steam 
rooms, such facilities would remain subject to the ADA's general 
requirement to ensure that individuals with disabilities have an equal 
opportunity to enjoy the services and amenities of their facilities.
    Exercise machines. Sections 206.2.13 and 236 of the 2004 ADAAG 
require one of each type of fixed exercise machine to meet clear floor 
space specifications and to be on an accessible route. Types of 
machines are generally defined according to the muscular groups 
exercised or the kind of cardiovascular exercise provided.
    Question 40: Will existing facilities have to reduce the number of 
available exercise equipment and machines in order to comply? What 
types of space limitations would affect compliance?
    Team or player seating areas. Section 221.2.1.4 of the 2004 ADAAG 
requires one or more wheelchair spaces to be provided in each team or 
player seating area with fixed seats, depending upon the number of 
seats provided for spectators. For bowling lanes, the requirement would 
be limited to lanes required to be accessible.
    Question 41: Are team or player seating areas in certain types of 
existing facilities (e.g., ice hockey rinks) more difficult to make 
accessible due to existing designs? What types of existing facilities 
typically have design constraints that would make compliance with this 
requirement infeasible?
    Areas of sport activity. Sections 206.2.2 and 206.2.12 of the 2004 
ADAAG require each area of sport activity (e.g., courts and playing 
fields, whether indoor or outdoor) to be served by an accessible route. 
In court sports, the accessible route would also have to directly 
connect both sides of the court. The Department is considering limiting 
the application of this requirement in existing facilities that have 
multiple areas of sport activity that serve the same purpose. For 
example, in existing facilities with multiple soccer fields of a 
similar size, the Department may interpret the readily achievable 
barrier removal requirement to require that a reasonable number but at 
least one soccer field (rather than all of them) be served by an 
accessible route.
    Question 42: Should the Department interpret the barrier removal 
requirement to require only a reasonable number but at least one of 
each type of playing field to be served by an accessible route? Should 
the Department create an exception to this requirement for existing 
courts (e.g., tennis courts) that have been constructed back-to-back 
without any space in between them?
    Boating facilities. Sections 206.2.10, 235.2, and 235.3 of the 2004 
ADAAG require a specified number of boat slips and boarding piers at 
boat launch ramps to be accessible and connected to an accessible 
route. In existing boarding piers, the required clear pier space may be 
perpendicular to and extend the width of the boat slip if the facility 
has at least one accessible boat slip, providing that more accessible 
slips would reduce the total number (or widths) of existing boat slips. 
Accessible boarding piers at boat launch ramps must comply with the 
requirements for accessible boat slips for the entire length of the 
pier. If gangways (only one end of route is attached to land) and 
floating piers (neither end is attached to land) are involved, a number 
of exceptions are provided from the general standards for accessible 
routes in order to take into account the difficulty of meeting 
accessibility slope requirements due to fluctuations in water level. In 
existing facilities, moreover, gangways need not be lengthened to meet 
the requirement (except, in an alteration, as may be required by the 
path of travel requirement).
    Question 43: The Department is interested in collecting data 
regarding the impact of these requirements in existing boating 
facilities. Are there issues (e.g., space limitations) that would make 
it difficult to provide an accessible route to existing boat slips and 
boarding piers at boat launch ramps? To what extent do the exceptions 
for existing facilities (i.e., with respect to boat slips and gangways) 
mitigate the burden on existing facilities?
    Fishing piers and platforms. Sections 206.2.14 and 237 of the 2004 
ADAAG require at least twenty-five percent (25%) of railings at fishing 
piers and platforms to be no higher than 34 inches high, so that a 
person seated in a wheelchair can fish over the railing, to be 
dispersed along the pier or platform, and to be on an accessible route. 
(An exception permits railings to comply instead with the model codes, 
which permit railings to be 42 inches high.) If gangways (where only 
one end of route is attached to land) and floating piers (where neither 
end is attached to land) are involved, a number of exceptions are 
provided from the general standards for accessible routes in order to 
take into account the difficulty of meeting

[[Page 34538]]

accessibility slope requirements due to fluctuations in water level. In 
existing facilities, moreover, gangways need not be lengthened to meet 
the requirement (except, in an alteration, as may be required by the 
path of travel requirement).
    Question 44: The Department is interested in collecting data 
regarding the impact of this requirement on existing facilities. Are 
there issues (e.g., space limitations) that would make it difficult to 
provide an accessible route to existing fishing piers and platforms?
    Miniature golf courses. Sections 206.2.16, 239.2, and 239.3 of the 
2004 ADAAG require at least fifty percent (50%) of the holes on 
miniature golf courses to be accessible and connected to an accessible 
route (which must connect the last accessible hole directly to the 
course entrance or exit); generally, the accessible holes would have to 
be consecutive ones. Specified exceptions apply to accessible routes 
located on the playing surfaces of holes.
    Question 45: The Department is considering creating an exception 
for existing miniature golf facilities that are of a limited total 
square footage, have a limited amount of available space within the 
course, or were designed with extreme elevation changes. If the 
Department were to create such an exception, what parameters should the 
Department use to determine whether a miniature golf course should be 
exempt?
    Scope of coverage. As illustrated by the above discussion, the 2004 
ADAAG introduces supplemental scoping and technical requirements for 
play areas and recreation facilities that apply to elements and 
spaces--e.g., playgrounds and swimming pools--that are found in a 
variety of different types of facilities. In light of these 
supplemental requirements and their potentially wide-ranging 
application, the Department wishes to emphasize that the types of 
private entities covered under title III are unchanged by the proposed 
rule, and to reiterate the criteria that determine whether an entity is 
exempt from coverage under the ADA. In addition, the Department notes 
that certain types of facilities, while they may be exempt from the 
coverage of the ADA, may nonetheless be subject to the accessibility 
requirements of other federal laws.
    Private clubs (e.g., country clubs and civic organizations) are 
generally exempt from title III. Under the ADA, the definition of a 
private club is based on title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 
related case law. Generally, entities are considered private clubs 
where members exercise a high degree of control over club operations; 
the membership selection is highly selective; substantial membership 
fees are charged; the entity is operated on a nonprofit basis; and the 
club was not founded specifically to avoid compliance with federal 
civil rights laws. For example, a country club may qualify as a private 
club and have a golf course on its grounds. If the golf course is for 
the exclusive use of club members and their guests, the golf course is 
not a public accommodation covered by title III. However, if the 
country club allows nonmembers to pay a fee to play golf, the golf 
course is a public accommodation and is subject to title III. The 
country club's other operations and facilities, however, would remain 
exempt if they were exclusive to members.
    Religious organizations and entities controlled by religious 
organizations, including places of worship, are also exempt from the 
coverage of title III. This exemption is intended to have a broad 
application and covers all of the activities of a religious entity, 
whether they are religious or secular. For example, a religious 
organization that operates a child care facility that includes a 
playground, even if the child care facility is open to nonmembers, is 
exempt from the requirements of the ADA despite the fact that the 
facility would otherwise qualify as a public accommodation under title 
III. However, it should be noted that religious organizations that 
receive federal financial assistance are not exempt from the 
responsibility to comply with the requirements of section 504 or any 
other applicable federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the 
basis of disability in federally assisted programs.
    Finally, facilities governed by homeowners associations or similar 
organizations may be covered by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and subject 
to HUD's jurisdiction, rather than title III of the ADA, or they may be 
covered by both the FHA and title III. The distinguishing feature is 
whether use of the facilities in question is limited exclusively to 
owners, residents, and their guests, or if the facilities are made 
available to the public. For example, a development governed by a 
homeowners association that includes a swimming pool may be covered by 
the FHA only, or both the FHA and the ADA. The residences and other 
areas provided for the exclusive use of residents and their guests are 
covered by the FHA. If the swimming pool is available only to residents 
and their guests, it would be covered by the FHA only. However, if the 
pool is also available to members of the public who buy pool 
memberships, the pool would qualify as a public accommodation and would 
be subject to the requirements of title III.
    Safe harbor for qualified small businesses regarding what is 
readily achievable. The Department is offering for public comment a 
modification to the barrier removal requirement at Sec.  36.304(d)(5) 
that provides a safe harbor for qualified small businesses as defined 
in Sec.  36.104. Pursuant to this safe harbor, a qualified small 
business would have met its readily achievable barrier removal 
obligations for a given year if, in the preceding tax year, it spent at 
least one percent (1%) of its gross revenues on barrier removal. In so 
doing, the Department wishes to promulgate a rule that will benefit a 
broad class of small businesses by providing a level of certainty in 
short-term and long-term planning with respect to barrier removal. An 
effective rule would also provide some protection, through diminished 
litigation risks, to small businesses that undertake significant 
barrier removal projects. The Department received many comments from 
the small business community urging it to consider changing its 
approach to barrier removal.
    The Department seeks public input on this safe harbor for readily 
achievable barrier removal, and, specifically, solicits advice on 
whether one percent (1%) is the appropriate level of expenditure. 
Another business group, which proposed a similar scheme, suggested that 
the Department propose that small businesses spend five percent (5%) of 
their net revenues. The Department believes from its experience in 
enforcing the ADA that the relevant expenditure should be a percentage 
of gross, rather than net, revenues in order to avoid the effect of 
differences in bookkeeping practices and to maximize accessibility 
consistent with congressional intent. The Department recognizes, 
however, that entities with similar gross revenues may have very 
different net revenues, and that this difference may significantly 
affect what is readily achievable for a particular entity. Such an 
approach places significant importance on getting the right percentage 
of revenues that should be considered.
    Any formulaic approach, even for a subset of the public 
accommodations covered by the ADA, is a departure from the Department's 
current position on barrier removal. During the Department's rulemaking 
for the regulation published in 1991, the issue of barrier removal 
received significant attention. Advocacy groups both for individuals 
with disabilities and private

[[Page 34539]]

businesses requested specific guidance on what measures were required 
for barrier removal. Commenters were concerned that, absent a standard, 
unsafe or ineffective design practices might be undertaken. The 
Department's current rule reflects the view of many commenters that 
requiring public accommodations to comply with the alteration 
standards, where readily achievable to do so, promotes certainty and 
good design.
    SBREFA requires the Department to consider alternative means of 
compliance for small businesses. 5 U.S.C. 603(c). To comply with this 
obligation, the Department is soliciting public comment on the 
possibility of providing a safe harbor to qualified small businesses 
that have spent at least one percent (1%) of their gross revenues to 
remove architectural, communication, or transportation barriers.
    Question 46: Should the Department adopt a presumption whereby 
qualifying small businesses are presumed to have done what is readily 
achievable for a given year if, during the previous tax year, the 
entity spent at least one percent (1%) of its gross revenues on barrier 
removal? Why or why not? Is one percent (1%) an appropriate amount? Are 
gross revenues the appropriate measure? Why or why not?

Section 36.308 Seating in Assembly Areas

    The Department is proposing to revise this section to be consistent 
with revisions in the proposed requirements applicable to new 
construction and alterations. The purpose of the section is unchanged: 
To establish the barrier removal requirements for assembly areas. 
Sections 36.308(a)(1) and (b) have been revised to include an express 
requirement to provide companion seats and designated aisle seats.
    Section 36.308(a)(1)(ii)(A) and (B) have been revised to provide 
that wheelchair and companion seats must be an integral part of the 
seating area, dispersed to all accessible seating levels, and that the 
locations must provide viewing angles to the screen, performance area, 
or other focal point that are equivalent to or better than the average 
viewing angles provided to all other spectators.
    Proposed Sec.  36.308(a)(1)(iii) provides that companion seats may 
be fixed or movable and that they shall be equivalent in size, quality, 
comfort, and amenities to the other seats in the assembly area.
    A new Sec.  36.308(c)(1) has been added to provide that when an 
assembly area has designated seating sections that provide spectators 
with distinct services or amenities that are not generally available to 
other spectators, the facility must ensure that wheelchair seating 
spaces and companion seating are provided in each specialty seating 
area. The number of wheelchair seating spaces and companion seating 
provided in specialty seating areas shall be included in, rather than 
being additive to, wheelchair space requirements set forth in table 
221.2.1.1 in the proposed standards.
    Proposed Sec.  36.308(c)(2) requires that, to the extent possible, 
wheelchair users shall be permitted to purchase companion tickets on 
the same terms that tickets are made available to other members of the 
public. In assembly areas with seating capacities exceeding 5,000, each 
of five designated wheelchair spaces shall have at least three 
companion seats (i.e., five groups of four seats, each group including 
a wheelchair space) in order to provide more flexible seating 
arrangements for families and other small groups. The group companion 
seats required by this section may be located adjacent to either the 
wheelchair location or other companion seats. The Department is 
proposing this requirement to address complaints from many wheelchair 
users that the practice of providing a strict one-to-one relationship 
between wheelchair locations and companion seating often prevents 
family members from attending events together.

Section 36.309 Examinations and Courses

    Section 309 of the ADA is intended to fill the gap that is created 
when licensing, certification, and other testing authorities are not 
covered by section 504 or title II of the ADA, and to ensure that 
individuals with disabilities are not excluded from educational, 
professional, or trade opportunities because examinations or courses 
are offered in a place or manner that is not accessible. See 42 U.S.C. 
12189. Through its enforcement efforts, the Department has discovered 
that the requests made by testing entities for documentation regarding 
the existence of an individual's disability and her or his need for a 
modification or an auxiliary aid or service are often inappropriate or 
burdensome. The proposed rule attempts to address this problem.
    Section 36.309(b) as revised states that while it is appropriate 
for a testing entity to require that an applicant document the 
existence of a disability in order to establish that he or she is 
entitled to testing modifications or aids, the request for 
documentation must be appropriate and reasonable. Requested 
documentation should be narrowly tailored so that the testing entity 
can ascertain the nature of the disability and the individual's need 
for the requested modification or auxiliary aid. Generally, a testing 
entity should accept without further inquiry documentation provided by 
a qualified professional who has made an individualized assessment of 
the applicant. Appropriate documentation may include a letter from a 
qualified professional or evidence of a prior diagnosis, accommodation, 
or classification, such as eligibility for a special education program. 
When an applicant's documentation is recent and demonstrates a 
consistent history of a diagnosis, there is no need for further inquiry 
into the nature of the disability. A testing entity should consider an 
applicant's past use of a particular auxiliary aid or service.
    Finally, a private entity should respond in a timely manner to 
requests and should provide applicants with a reasonable opportunity to 
supplement their requests with additional information, if necessary. 
Failure by the testing entity to act in a timely manner and making 
requests of unnecessary magnitude could result in the sort of delay 
that amounts to a denial of equal opportunity or equal treatment.

Section 36.311 Mobility Devices

    Proposed Sec.  36.311 has been added to provide additional guidance 
to public accommodations about the circumstances in which power-driven 
mobility devices must be accommodated.
    As discussed earlier in this NPRM, this proposal is in response to 
growing confusion about what types of mobility devices must be 
accommodated. The Department has received complaints and become aware 
of situations where individuals with mobility disabilities have 
utilized for locomotion purposes riding lawn mowers, golf cars, large 
wheelchairs with rubber tracks, gasoline-powered, two-wheeled scooters, 
and other devices that are not designed for indoor use or exclusively 
used by people with disabilities. Indeed, there has been litigation 
about whether the ADA requires covered entities to allow people with 
disabilities to use their EPAMDs like users of traditional wheelchairs. 
Individuals with disabilities have sued several shopping malls in which 
businesses refused to allow a person with a disability to use an EPAMD. 
See, e.g., Sarah Antonacci, White Oaks Faces Lawsuit over Segway, State 
Journal-Register, Oct. 9, 2007, available at http://www.sj-r.com/news/

[[Page 34540]]

stories/17784.asp; Shasta Clark, Local Man Fighting Mall Over Right to 
Use Segway, WATE 6 News, July 26, 2005, available at http://
www.wate.com/Global/story.asp?s=3643674. The Department believes 
clarification on what the ADA requires is necessary at this juncture.
    Section 36.311(a) reiterates the general rule that public 
accommodations shall permit individuals using wheelchairs, scooters, 
and manually powered mobility aids, including walkers, crutches, canes, 
braces, and similar devices, in any areas open to pedestrians. The 
regulation underscores this general proposition because the great 
majority of mobility scooters and wheelchairs must be accommodated 
under nearly all circumstances in which title III applies.
    Section 36.311(b) adopts the general requirement in the ADA that 
public accommodations must make reasonable modifications to their 
policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to enable an 
individual with a disability to use a power-driven mobility device to 
participate in its services, programs, or activities unless doing so 
would result in a fundamental alteration of their services, programs, 
or activities.
    If a public accommodation restricts the use of power-driven 
mobility devices by people without disabilities, then it must develop 
policies addressing which devices and under what circumstances 
individuals with disabilities may use power-driven mobility devices for 
the purpose of mobility. Under the Department's proposed regulation in 
Sec.  36.311(c), public accommodations must adopt policies and 
procedures regarding the accommodation of power-driven mobility devices 
other than wheelchairs and scooters that are designed to assess whether 
allowing an individual with a disability to use a power-driven mobility 
device is reasonable and does not result in a fundamental alteration to 
its programs, services, or activities. Public accommodations may 
establish policies and procedures that address and distinguish among 
types of mobility devices.
    For example, an amusement park may determine that it is reasonable 
to allow individuals with disabilities to use EPAMDs in a variety of 
outdoor programs and activities, but that it would not be reasonable to 
allow the use of golf cars as mobility devices in similar 
circumstances. At the same time, the entity may address its concerns 
about factors such as space limitations by disallowing EPAMDs by 
members of the general public.
    Section 36.311(c) lists permissible factors that a public 
accommodation may consider in determining whether the use of different 
types of power-driven mobility devices by individuals with disabilities 
may be permitted. In developing policies, public accommodations should 
group power-driven mobility devices by type (e.g., EPAMDs, golf cars, 
gasoline-powered vehicles, wheelchairs designed for outdoor use, and 
other devices). A blanket exclusion of all devices that fall under the 
definition of other power-driven mobility devices in all locations 
would likely violate the proposed regulation.
    The factors listed in Sec.  36.311(c)(1) through (3) may be used in 
order to develop policies regarding the use of other power-driven 
mobility devices by people with disabilities. The dimensions, weight, 
and other characteristics of the mobility device in relation to a 
wheelchair or scooter, as well as the device's maneuverability and 
speed, may be considered. Another permissible consideration is the 
potential risk of harm to others by the operation of other power-driven 
mobility devices. The use of gasoline-powered golf cars by people with 
disabilities inside a building may be prohibited, for example, because 
the exhaust may be harmful to others. A mobility device that is unsafe 
to others would not be reasonable under the proposed regulation. 
Additionally, the risk of harm to the environment or natural or 
cultural resources or conflicts with federal land management laws and 
regulations are also to be considered. The final consideration is the 
ability of the public accommodation to stow the mobility device when 
not in use, if requested by the user.
    While a public accommodation may inquire into whether the 
individual is using the device due to a disability, the entity may not 
inquire about the nature and extent of the disability, as provided in 
Sec.  36.311(d).
    The Department anticipates that, in many circumstances, allowing 
the use of unique mobility devices by individuals with disabilities 
will be reasonable to provide access to a public accommodation's 
services, programs, and activities, and that in many cases it will not 
fundamentally alter the public accommodation's operations and services. 
On the other hand, the use of mobility devices that are unsafe to 
others, or unusually unwieldy or disruptive, is unlikely to be 
reasonable and may constitute a fundamental alteration.
    Consider the following examples:

    Example 1: Although people who do not have mobility disabilities 
are prohibited from operating EPAMDs at a theme park, the public 
accommodation has developed a policy allowing people with 
disabilities to use EPAMDs as their mobility device at the theme 
park. The policy states that EPAMDs are allowed in all areas of the 
theme park that are open to pedestrians as a reasonable modification 
to its general policy on EPAMDs. The public accommodation determined 
that the venue provides adequate space for a larger device such as 
an EPAMD and that it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the 
theme park's goods and services. The theme park's policies do, 
however, require that EPAMDs be operated at a safe speed limit. A 
theme park employee may inquire at the ticket gate whether the 
device is needed due to the user's disability and also inform an 
individual with a disability using an EPAMD that the theme park's 
policy requires that it be operated at or below the designated speed 
limit.
    Example 2: A luxury cruise ship has developed a policy regarding 
the use of EPAMDs by individuals with disabilities on the ship. In 
developing the policy, the public accommodation has considered the 
dimensions of the EPAMD, including its height, in relation to the 
common areas of the ship and the safety of other passengers. Since 
the cruise ship in this example is large, there are many areas where 
a person using an EPAMD can be easily accommodated, including decks 
and spaces where passengers routinely walk and exercise, under 
certain weather conditions. However, the dimensions of the ship, as 
on most such vessels, are more compact than analogous features of 
facilities on land and may contain thresholds and other features 
that present obstacles to some EPAMDs. Therefore, with respect to 
some areas, such as the passageways in cabin areas where the spaces 
are narrow and ceilings are low, the cruise ship may determine that 
allowing an individual with a disability to use an EPAMD for 
mobility would result in a fundamental alteration to some of the 
cruise ship areas. In these constricted areas, the cruise ship staff 
may offer a wheelchair or other means of locomotion where the EPAMD 
would be inappropriate. If the cruise ship in this example is 
smaller, it may be necessary for the staff to restrict the use of 
EPAMDs in most or all areas.

    The Department is seeking public comment on the proposed 
definitions and policy concerning wheelchairs and other mobility 
devices.
    Question 47: Are there types of personal mobility devices that must 
be accommodated under nearly all circumstances? Conversely, are there 
types of mobility devices that almost always will require an assessment 
to determine whether they should be accommodated? Please provide 
examples of devices and circumstances in your responses.
    Question 48: Should motorized devices that use fuel or internal-
combustion engines (e.g., all-terrain

[[Page 34541]]

vehicles) be considered personal mobility devices that are covered by 
the ADA? Are there specific circumstances in which accommodating these 
devices would result in a fundamental alteration?
    Question 49: Should personal mobility devices used by individuals 
with disabilities be categorized by intended purpose or function, by 
indoor or outdoor use, or by some other factor? Why or why not?

Subpart D--New Construction and Alterations

    Subpart D establishes the title III requirements applicable to new 
construction and alterations. The Department is proposing to amend this 
subpart to adopt the proposed standards and to make related changes to 
give effect to these changes, as described below.

Section 36.403 Alterations and Path of Travel

    The Department is proposing one change to Sec.  36.403 on 
alterations and path of travel by adding a path of travel safe harbor. 
Proposed Sec.  36.403(a)(1) states that if a private entity has 
constructed or altered required elements of a path of travel in 
accordance with the 1991 Standards, the private entity is not required 
to retrofit such elements to reflect incremental changes in the 
proposed standards solely because of an alteration to a primary 
function area served by that path of travel. The Department is not 
proposing any additional changes to Sec. Sec.  36.402 through 36.405, 
which establish requirements for alterations. Some commenters suggested 
that the definition of alteration be modified to provide more guidance 
on what actions trigger application of the proposed standards 
generally, and the extent to which an alteration triggers an additional 
path of travel obligation.
    Consequently, the Department is proposing a safe harbor to clarify 
alteration requirements as they pertain to path of travel. One 
commenter noted that changing a door lock on a hotel guest room would 
trigger requirements to make the path of travel accessible. This 
suggestion is expressly rejected by the language of the existing 
regulation in Sec.  36.403(c)(2), which makes clear that ``alterations 
to windows, hardware, controls, electrical outlets, and signage shall 
not be deemed to be alterations that affect the usability of or access 
to an area containing a primary function.'' Commenter suggestions that 
painting and wallpapering be expressly excluded from the definition of 
alterations are similarly unnecessary as both the 1991 Standards and 
the proposed standards provide in the definition of ``alteration'' that 
``[n]ormal maintenance, reroofing, painting or wallpapering * * * are 
not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or 
facility.''

Section 36.406 Standards for New Construction and Alterations

Section 36.406(a)(2) Applicable Standards

    Section 306 of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12186, directs the Attorney 
General to issue regulations to implement title III that are consistent 
with the guidelines published by the Access Board. Commenters suggested 
that the Department should not adopt the 2004 ADAAG, but should develop 
an independent regulation. The Department is a statutory member of the 
Access Board and was actively involved in the development of the 2004 
ADAAG. Because of the Department's long involvement in the process to 
develop the 2004 ADAAG, the Department does not believe that it is 
necessary or appropriate to begin that lengthy process anew. 
Nevertheless, during the process of drafting this NPRM, the Department 
has reviewed the 2004 ADAAG to determine if additional regulatory 
provisions are necessary. As a result of this review, the Department 
has decided to propose new sections, which are contained in Sec. Sec.  
36.406(b)-(g), to clarify how the Department will apply the proposed 
standards to social service establishments, housing at places of 
education, assembly areas, and medical care facilities. Each of these 
provisions is discussed below.
    The Department is proposing to adopt the proposed standards and to 
establish the effective date and triggering event for the new coverage. 
Specifically, the Department is proposing to amend Sec.  36.406(a) by 
dividing it into two sections. Proposed Sec.  36.406(a)(1) specifies 
that new construction and alterations subject to this part shall comply 
with the proposed standards if physical construction of the property 
commences less than six months after the effective date of the proposed 
rule. Proposed Sec.  36.406(a)(2) specifies that new construction and 
alterations subject to this part shall comply with the proposed 
standards if physical construction of the property commences six months 
or more after the effective date. The Department is also proposing to 
delete the advisory information now published in a table at Sec.  
36.406(b).
    The ANPRM gave notice that the Department must determine when the 
proposed standards will apply to newly constructed facilities following 
the publication of a final rule by establishing: (1) The effective date 
after publication of the final rule; and (2) the triggering event for 
compliance with the proposed standards (i.e., the event or action that 
compels compliance with the proposed standards).
    Attachment A to this proposed rule is an analysis of the major 
changes in the proposed standards and a discussion of the public 
comments that the Department received on specific sections of the 2004 
ADAAG. In addition to those comments, the Department also received some 
comments that raised issues concerning the scope of the coverage of the 
proposed standards, the Department's decision to adopt them, and the 
established methods of interpretation. Comments discussing the costs 
and benefits of the proposed standards will be addressed in the 
discussion of the Department's regulatory impact analysis. Comments on 
the effect of the proposed standards on existing facilities will be 
discussed in conjunction with the analysis of Sec.  36.304 of this 
proposed rule. The remaining comments addressed global issues, such as 
the Department's proposal to adopt the 2004 ADAAG as the ADA Standards 
for Accessible Design without significant changes and the application 
of the proposed standards to employee areas.
    Several commenters, including individual business owners and 
organizations representing business interests, questioned the 
application of the proposed standards to employee work areas, 
maintaining that all employment issues should be subject to title I of 
the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq. These comments indicate a fundamental 
misunderstanding of the statutory scope of title III coverage and the 
scope of the 1991 Standards.
    The commenters correctly observed that title I prohibits 
discrimination against individuals with disabilities employed in a 
business that has fifteen or more employees. Title III has no direct 
effect on that employer/employee relationship, but does establish 
requirements for the design, construction, or alteration of both public 
accommodations and commercial facilities, 42 U.S.C. 12183. As the 
Department explained in the preamble to its 1991 NPRM to implement 
title III:

    Commercial facilities are those facilities that are intended for 
nonresidential use by a private entity and whose operations affect 
commerce . * * * [T]he new construction and alteration requirements 
of subpart D of the [1991] rule apply to all commercial facilities, 
whether or not they are places of public accommodation. Those 
commercial facilities that are not places of public

[[Page 34542]]

accommodation are not subject to the requirements of subparts B and 
C (e.g., those requirements concerning auxiliary aids and general 
nondiscrimination provisions).
    Congress recognized that the employees within commercial 
facilities would generally be protected under title I (employment) 
of the Act. However, as the House Committee on Education and Labor 
pointed out, ``[t]o the extent that new facilities are built in a 
manner that make[s] them accessible to all individuals, including 
potential employees, there will be less of a need for individual 
employers to engage in reasonable accommodations for particular 
employees.'' H.R. Rep. No. 101-485, Part 2, at 117 (1990) . * * * 
While employers of fewer than 15 employees are not covered by title 
I's employment discrimination provisions, there is no such 
limitation with respect to new construction covered under title III. 
Congress chose not to so limit the new construction provisions 
because of its desire for a uniform requirement of accessibility in 
new construction, because accessibility can be accomplished easily 
in the design and construction stage, and because future expansion 
of a business or sale or lease of the property to a larger employer 
or to a business that is a place of public accommodation is always a 
possibility.

56 FR 7455 (Feb. 22, 1991). The Department's proposed rule merely 
continues this long-standing interpretation of title III's application 
to commercial facilities (and employee areas within public 
accommodations). 56 FR 35544, 35547 (July 26, 1991).

    Several commenters suggested that the proposed standards would 
establish new requirements applicable to employee-only areas, such as 
restrooms, locker rooms, cafeterias, and break rooms. These comments 
misunderstand the current law. The 1991 Standards apply to the new 
construction of, or alteration to, commercial facilities (including 
employee areas of public accommodations), unless a specific exemption 
applies. Employee common-use areas, such as those listed above, have 
been subject to title III and to subpart D of the implementing 
regulation, including the provisions in the 1991 Standards. This 
coverage means that unless the area is subject to a specific exemption, 
it must comply with the Standards and it must be on an accessible 
route. The proposed standards will not change that coverage.
    The major change in the rule is in the treatment of employee work 
areas. Under the 1991 Standards, section 4.1.1(3), areas used only as 
work areas are only required to permit a person using a wheelchair to 
approach, enter, and exit the area. Because of public comment 
suggesting that owners of commercial facilities were not providing 
accessible routes within the facility, proposed section 206.2.8 
contains a requirement to provide accessible common use circulation 
paths, subject to several exceptions. Specific comments received on 
employee work areas are addressed in Appendix A.
    Finally, one commenter suggested that the Department should adopt a 
system for providing formal interpretations of the ADA Standards for 
Accessible Design, analogous to the code interpretation systems used by 
the states and the major model codes. Because the ADA is a civil rights 
statute--rather than a building code--the statute does not contemplate 
or authorize a formal code interpretation system. The ADA anticipated 
that there would be a need for close coordination of the ADA building 
requirements with the state and local requirements. Therefore, the 
statute authorized the Attorney General to establish an ADA code 
certification process, which is addressed in subpart F of this rule.
    In addition, the Department operates an extensive technical 
assistance program. The Department anticipates that once this rule is 
final, it will revise its existing technical assistance materials to 
provide guidance about the implementation of this rule.
    Effective date: Time period. When the ADA was enacted, the 
effective dates for various provisions were delayed in order to provide 
time for covered entities to become familiar with their new 
obligations. Titles II and III of the ADA generally became effective on 
January 26, 1992, six months after the regulations were published. New 
construction under title II and alterations under either title II or 
title III had to comply with the design standards on that date. For new 
construction under title III, the requirements applied to facilities 
designed and constructed for first occupancy after January 26, 1993--
eighteen months after the 1991 Standards were published by the 
Department.
    The ANPRM presented three options for the effective date time 
period: Option I, providing that the effective date of the proposed 
standards would be eighteen months after publication of the final rule; 
Option II, providing that the effective date of the proposed standards 
would be six months after publication of the final rule; or Option III, 
providing that the effective date of the proposed standards would be 
twelve months after publication of the final rule.
    The Department received numerous comments on this issue. The 
majority of business, trade, and government organizations advocated 
eighteen months or more from publication of the final rule. In 
contrast, many disability advocacy groups and individuals argued that 
the revised regulation should be effective upon final publication, or 
very soon thereafter. Many commenters asserted that the importance of 
providing increased accessibility for people with disabilities 
necessitates that the proposed standards become effective as soon as 
possible.
    The current situation is substantially different from the 
conditions that prevailed in 1990 when the ADA was first enacted. 
Covered entities are no longer dealing with a new statutory obligation. 
Rather, the Department is dealing with a transition between two similar 
editions of the title III regulation. Therefore, the Department 
proposes that covered entities must comply with the proposed standards 
for construction that begins six months after publication of the final 
rule as an appropriate balancing of stakeholder concerns.
    This approach is consistent with the approach of other federal 
agencies that are in the process of adopting the 2004 ADAAG: The 
Department of Transportation (DOT), which is generally responsible for 
the enforcement of title II of the ADA with respect to public 
transportation, and the General Services Administration (GSA), which 
has adopted the Access Board's Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) 
guidelines to replace the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards 
(UFAS). DOT's final rule adopting the 2004 ADAAG became effective 
shortly after publication. See 71 FR 63263 (Oct. 30, 2006) (to be 
codified at 49 CFR part 37). Likewise, GSA adopted an effective date of 
six months following publication of the final rule. See 70 FR 67786 
(Nov. 8, 2005).
    Effective date: Triggering event. In the ANPRM, the Department 
suggested ``first use'' as an alternative triggering event for 
facilities that do not require building permits or that do not receive 
certificates of occupancy. The Department received many comments in 
response to this suggestion, as well as criticisms of the current 
triggering event for new construction under title III. Some commenters 
noted that permitting requirements for construction projects covered by 
title III vary across both states and localities. For example, some 
jurisdictions in Iowa do not have building codes applying to title III 
entities, while Kentucky and Chicago do not require building permits 
and certificates of occupancy for construction under certain monetary 
thresholds. Owners and operators of play areas and recreational 
facilities commented that the permitting process for such projects, 
when it exists, is

[[Page 34543]]

different from those involving typical buildings. Specifically, the 
current title III triggering events are ill-suited for application to 
many elements of golf and miniature golf sites, amusement rides and 
attractions, playgrounds, park facilities without electricity, and 
similar entities.
    The information provided by commenters indicates that the first-use 
approach would not provide adequate guidance on when the proposed 
standards would apply to certain facilities and elements. Several 
commenters suggested the start of construction as the triggering event 
because it would eliminate confusion over facilities that do not 
require permitting. Using the start of construction as the triggering 
event would harmonize title III's requirements for new construction 
with the requirements for new construction and alterations under title 
II and alterations under title III. Several commenters on this issue 
urged the Department to use the same triggering events for title II and 
title III.
    The Department has been persuaded by these comments to propose a 
triggering event paralleling that for the alterations provisions (i.e., 
the date on which construction begins). This would apply clearly across 
all types of covered public accommodations, and the Department plans to 
clarify what constitutes the start of construction based on responses 
to this NPRM. This approach poses fewer problems than the first-use 
approach by measuring only the date on which physical construction 
commences.
    For prefabricated elements such as modular buildings and amusement 
park rides and attractions, or installed equipment such as ATMs, the 
Department proposes that the start of construction means the date on 
which the site preparation begins. Site preparation includes providing 
an accessible route to the element.
    Question 50: The Department proposes using the start of 
construction as the triggering event for applying the proposed 
standards to new construction under title III. The Department asks for 
public comment on how to define the start of construction and the 
practicality of applying commencement of construction as a triggering 
event. Is the proposed definition of the start of construction 
sufficiently clear and inclusive of different types of facilities? 
Please be specific about the situations that are not covered in the 
proposed definitions, and suggest alternatives or additional language. 
In addition, the Department asks that the public identify facilities 
subject to title III for which commencement of construction would be 
ambiguous or problematic.

Section 36.406(b) Application of Standards to Fixed Elements

    The Department is proposing a new Sec.  36.406(b) that would 
clarify that the requirements established by this section, including 
those contained in the proposed standards (and the 2004 ADAAG) 
prescribe the requirements necessary to ensure that fixed or built-in 
elements in new or altered facilities are accessible to people with 
disabilities. Once the construction or alteration of a facility has 
been completed, all other aspects of programs, services, and activities 
conducted in that facility are subject to the operational requirements 
established elsewhere in this regulation. Although the Department often 
chooses to use the requirements of the 1991 Standards as a guide to 
determining when and how to make equipment and furnishings accessible, 
those coverage determinations fall within the discretionary authority 
of the Department; they do not flow automatically from the Standards.
    The Department is also clarifying that the advisory notes, appendix 
notes, and figures that accompany the 1991 Standards do not establish 
separately enforceable requirements. This clarification has been made 
to address concerns expressed by commenters who mistakenly believed 
that the advisory notes in the 2004 ADAAG established requirements 
beyond those established in the text of the guidelines (e.g., Advisory 
504.4 suggests, but does not require, that covered entities provide 
visual contrast on stair tread nosings to make them more visible to 
people with low vision).

Section 36.406(c) Places of Lodging

    The Department is proposing to add a new Sec.  36.406(c) to clarify 
the scope of coverage for places of lodging. For many years the 
Department has received inquiries from members of the public seeking 
clarification of ADA coverage of rental accommodations in time-shares, 
condominium hotels, and mixed-use and corporate hotel facilities that 
operate as places of lodging (as that term is now defined in Sec.  
36.104). This section proposes to address the treatment of these hotel-
like facilities that have attributes of both residential dwellings and 
transient lodging facilities. These hybrid facilities have become 
increasingly popular since the ADA's enactment in 1990 and make up the 
majority of new hotel construction in some vacation destinations. The 
hybrid residential and lodging characteristics of these new types of 
facilities complicate determinations of ADA coverage, prompting 
questions from both industry and individuals with disabilities. While 
the Department has interpreted the ADA to encompass these hotel-like 
facilities when they are used to provide transient lodging, the 
regulation has not specifically addressed them. Therefore, the 
Department is proposing a new Sec.  36.406(c), entitled, ``Places of 
lodging,'' which clarifies that places of lodging including time-
shares, condominium hotels, and mixed-use and corporate hotel 
facilities shall comply with the provisions of the proposed standards, 
including but not limited to the requirements for transient lodging in 
sections 224 and 806 of the 2004 ADAAG.
    The proposed rule, in the definitions section, clarifies that a 
covered ``place of lodging'' is a facility that provides guest rooms 
for sleeping for stays that are primarily short-term in nature 
(generally two weeks or less), to which the occupant does not have the 
right or intent to return to a specific room or unit after the 
conclusion of his or her stay, and which operates under conditions and 
with amenities similar to a hotel, motel, or inn, particularly 
including factors such as: (1) An on-site proprietor and reservations 
desk; (2) rooms available on a walk-up basis; (3) linen service; and 
(4) a policy of accepting reservations for a room type without 
guaranteeing a particular unit or room until check-in, without a prior 
lease or security deposit. Time-shares and condominiums or corporate 
hotels that do not meet this definition will not be covered by Sec.  
36.406(c) of the proposed regulation, but will likely be covered by the 
requirements of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq. The 
Department is seeking public input on this proposal.
    Question 51: The Department requests comments on determining the 
appropriate basis for scoping for a time-share or condominium-hotel. Is 
it the total number of units in the facility, or some smaller number, 
such as the number of units participating in the rental program, or the 
number of units expected to be available for rent on an average night 
the most appropriate measure?
    Question 52: The Department's proposed definition of ``place of 
lodging'' includes facilities that are primarily short-term in nature, 
i.e., two weeks or less in duration. Is ``two weeks or less'' the 
appropriate dividing line between transient and residential use? Is 
thirty days a more appropriate dividing line?

[[Page 34544]]

    Question 53: The Department believes that the scoping and technical 
requirements for transient lodging, rather than those for residential 
dwelling units, should apply to these places of lodging. Is this the 
most appropriate choice?
    Question 54: How should the Department's regulation provide for a 
situation in which a new or converted facility constructs the required 
number of accessible units, but the owners of those units choose not to 
participate in the rental program? Does the facility have an obligation 
to encourage or require owners of accessible units to participate in 
the rental program? Does the facility developer, the condominium 
association, or the hotel operator have an obligation to retain 
ownership or control over a certain number of accessible units to avoid 
this problem?
    Question 55: How should the Department's regulation establish the 
scoping for a time-share or condominium-rental facility that decides, 
after the sale of units to individual owners, to begin a rental program 
that qualifies the facility as a place of lodging? How should the 
condominium association, operator, or developer determine which units 
to make accessible?

Section 36.406(d) Social Service Establishments

    The Department is proposing a new Sec.  36.406(d) that provides 
that group homes, halfway houses, shelters, or similar social service 
establishments that provide temporary sleeping accommodations or 
residential dwelling units shall comply with the provisions of the 
proposed standards applicable to residential facilities, including, but 
not limited to, the provisions in sections 233 and 809 of the 2004 
ADAAG.
    The reasons for this proposal are based on two important changes in 
the 2004 ADAAG. For the first time, residential dwellings are 
explicitly covered in section 233 of the 2004 ADAAG. Second, the 
language addressing scoping and technical requirements for homeless 
shelters, group homes, and similar social service establishments is 
eliminated. Currently, such establishments are covered in the transient 
lodging section (section 9.5) of the 1991 Standards. The deletion of 
section 9.5 creates ambiguity of coverage that must be addressed.
    The Department proposed in the ANPRM that the establishments 
currently covered by section 9.5 be covered as residential dwelling 
units, which are covered in section 233 of the 2004 ADAAG, rather than 
as transient lodging guest rooms in section 224 of the 2004 ADAAG. The 
Department considers this is a prudent action based on its effect on 
social service providers. Transferring coverage of social service 
establishments from transient lodging to residential dwellings will 
alleviate conflicting requirements for social service providers. The 
Department believes that a substantial percentage of social service 
providers are recipients of federal financial assistance from HUD. The 
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also provides financial 
assistance for the operation of shelters through the Administration for 
Children and Families programs. As such, they are covered both by the 
ADA (including section 9.5 of the 1991 Standards) and section 504. The 
two design standards for accessibility (i.e., the 1991 Standards and 
UFAS) have confronted many social service providers with separate, 
sometimes conflicting requirements for the design and construction of 
facilities. To resolve the conflicts, the residential dwelling 
standards in the 2004 ADAAG have been coordinated with the section 504 
requirements. The transient lodging standards, however, are not 
similarly coordinated. The deletion of section 9.5 of the 1991 
Standards from the proposed standards presents two options: (1) Require 
coverage under the transient lodging standards, and subject such 
facilities to separate, conflicting requirements for design and 
construction; or (2) require coverage under the residential dwelling 
section, which harmonizes the regulatory requirements under the ADA and 
section 504. The Department chose the option that harmonizes the 
regulatory requirements.
    In response to its request for public comments on this issue, the 
Department received a total of eleven responses from industry and 
disability rights groups and advocates. Some commenters representing 
disability rights groups expressed concern that the residential 
dwelling requirements in the 2004 ADAAG are less stringent than the 
revised transient lodging requirements and would result in diminished 
access for people with disabilities.
    The commenters are correct that in some circumstances, the 
residential requirements are less stringent, particularly with respect 
to accessibility for people with communication-related disabilities. 
Other differences are that the residential guidelines do not require 
elevator access to upper floors if the required accessible features can 
be provided on a single, accessible level, and the residential 
guidelines do not expressly require roll-in showers. Despite this, the 
Department still believes that applying the residential dwelling unit 
requirements to homeless shelters and similar social service 
establishments is appropriate to the nature of the services being 
offered at those facilities, and because it will harmonize the ADA and 
section 504 requirements applicable to those facilities. In addition, 
the Department believes that the proposal is consistent with its 
obligations under the Regulatory Flexibility Act to provide some 
regulatory relief to small entities that operate on limited budgets.
    Nevertheless, the Department is requesting information from 
providers who operate homeless shelters, transient group homes, halfway 
houses, and other social service establishments, and from the clients 
of these facilities who would be affected by this proposed change.
    Question 56: To what extent have conflicts between the ADA and 
section 504 affected these facilities? What would be the effect of 
applying the residential dwelling unit requirements to these 
facilities, rather than the requirements for transient lodging guest 
rooms?
    Another commenter expressed concern about how the Department would 
address dormitory-style settings in homeless shelters, transient group 
homes, halfway houses, and other social service establishments if they 
are scoped as residential dwelling units. The commenter noted that the 
transient lodging requirements include a specific provision, Sec.  
224.3, that in guest rooms with more than twenty-five beds, at least 
five percent (5%) of the beds must have parallel clear floor space 
enabling a person using a wheelchair to access and transfer to the bed. 
The residential dwelling unit section does not explicitly include a 
similar provision.
    In response to this concern, the Department has added Sec.  
36.406(d)(1), which states that in settings in which the sleeping areas 
include more than twenty-five beds, and in which the residential 
dwelling unit requirements apply, five percent (5%) of the beds must 
comply with section 806.2.3 of the 2004 ADAAG (i.e., at least five 
percent (5%) must have parallel clear floor space on both sides of the 
bed enabling a person using a wheelchair to access and transfer to the 
bed).
    Definitions of residential facilities and transient lodging. The 
2004 ADAAG adds a definition of ``residential dwelling unit'' and 
modifies the current definition of ``transient lodging'' in the 1991 
Standards. Under section 106.5 of the 2004 ADAAG, a ``residential 
dwelling unit'' is defined as ``a unit intended to be used as a 
residence, that is primarily long-term in nature'' and does not include 
transient lodging,

[[Page 34545]]

inpatient medical care, licensed long-term care, and detention or 
correctional facilities. Additionally, section 106.5 of the 2004 ADAAG, 
changes the definition of ``transient lodging'' to a building or 
facility ``containing one or more guest room[s] for sleeping that 
provides accommodations that are primarily short-term in nature'' and 
does not include residential dwelling units intended to be used as a 
residence. The references to ``dwelling units'' and ``dormitories'' in 
the 1991 Standards definition are omitted in the 2004 ADAAG definition 
of transient lodging.
    The Department said in the ANPRM that by applying the 2004 ADAAG 
residential facility guidelines to transient group homes, homeless 
shelters, halfway houses, and other social service establishments, 
these facilities would be more appropriately classified according to 
the nature of the services they provide, rather than the duration of 
those services. Participants in these programs may be housed on either 
a short-term or long-term basis in such facilities, and variation 
occurs even within the same programs and same facility. Therefore, 
duration can be an inconsistent way of classifying facilities.
    Several commenters stated that the definitions of residential 
dwellings and transient lodging are not clear and will confuse social 
service providers. They noted that including ``primarily long-term'' 
and ``primarily short-term'' in the respective definitions creates 
confusion when applied to the listed facilities because they serve 
people for widely varying lengths of time.
    The Department is aware of the wide range of services and duration 
of services provided by social service establishments. Therefore, 
rather than focus on the length of a person's stay at a facility, it 
makes more sense to look at a facility according to the type of 
services provided. For that reason, rather than saying that social 
service establishments are residential facilities, the Department has 
drafted the proposed Sec.  36.406(d) to provide that group homes and 
other listed facilities shall comply with the provisions in the 2004 
ADAAG that would apply to residential facilities.
    Finally, the Department received comments from code developers and 
architects commending the decision to coordinate the 2004 ADAAG with 
the requirements of section 504, and asking it to coordinate the 2004 
ADAAG with the Fair Housing Act's accessibility requirements. The 
Department believes that the coordination of the Fair Housing Act with 
other applicable disability rights statutes is within the jurisdiction 
of HUD, which is the agency charged with the responsibility to develop 
regulations to implement the Fair Housing Act, the Architectural 
Barriers Act, and the provisions of section 504 applicable to federally 
funded housing programs.

Section 36.406(e) Housing at a Place of Education

    The Department of Justice and the Department of Education share 
responsibility for regulation and enforcement of the ADA in 
postsecondary educational settings, including architectural features. 
Housing types in educational settings range from traditional residence 
halls and dormitories to apartment or townhouse-style residences. In 
addition to the ADA and section 504, other federal laws, including the 
Fair Housing Act of 1968, may apply. Covered entities subject to the 
ADA must always be aware of, and comply with, any other federal 
statutes or regulations that govern the operation of residential 
properties.
    Since the enactment of the ADA, the Department has received many 
questions about how the ADA applies to educational settings, including 
school dormitories. Neither the 1991 Standards nor the 2004 ADAAG 
specifically addresses how it applies to housing in educational 
settings. Therefore, the Department is proposing a new Sec.  36.406(e) 
that provides that residence halls or dormitories operated by or on 
behalf of places of education shall comply with the provisions of the 
proposed standards for transient lodging, including, but not limited 
to, the provisions in sections 224 and 806 of the 2004 ADAAG. Housing 
provided via individual apartments or townhouses will be subject to the 
requirements for residential dwelling units.
    Public and private school dormitories have varied characteristics. 
Like social service establishments, schools are generally recipients of 
federal financial assistance and are subject to both the ADA and 
section 504. College and university dormitories typically provide 
housing for up to one academic year, but may be closed during school 
vacation periods. In the summer, they are often used for short-term 
stays of one to three days, a week, or several months. They also are 
diverse in their layout. Some have double-occupancy rooms and a toilet 
and bathing room shared with a hallway of others, while others may have 
cluster, suite, or group arrangements where several rooms are located 
inside a secure area with bathing, kitchen, and similar common 
facilities.
    Private schools are subject to title III and are required to make 
their programs and activities accessible to individuals with 
disabilities. Throughout the school year and the summer, school 
dormitories can become program areas in which small groups meet, 
receptions and educational sessions are held, and social activities 
occur. The ability to move between rooms--both accessible rooms and 
standard rooms--in order to socialize, to study, and to use all public 
and common use areas is an essential part of having access to these 
educational programs and activities.
    Applying the requirements for residential facilities to school 
dormitories could hinder access to educational programs for students 
with disabilities. The prior discussion about social service 
establishments with sleeping accommodations explains that the 
requirements for dispersing accessible units would not necessarily 
require an elevator or access to different levels of a facility. 
Conversely, applying the transient lodging requirements to school 
dormitories would necessitate greater access throughout the facility 
for students with disabilities. Therefore, the Department requests 
public comment on how to scope school dormitories.
    Question 57: Would the residential facility requirements or the 
transient lodging requirements in the 2004 ADAAG be more appropriate 
for housing at places of education? How would the different 
requirements affect the cost when building new dormitories and other 
student housing?

Section 36.406(f) Assembly Areas

    The Department is proposing a new Sec.  36.406(f) to supplement the 
assembly areas requirements in the proposed standards. This provision 
would impose four additional requirements.
    Proposed Sec.  36.406(f)(1) requires wheelchair and companion 
seating locations to be dispersed so that some seating is available on 
each level served by an accessible route. This should have the effect 
of ensuring a choice of ticket prices, services, and amenities offered 
in the facility. Factors distinguishing specialty seating areas are 
generally dictated by the type of facility or event, but may include 
such distinct services and amenities as: Reserved seating (when other 
seats are sold on a first-come-first-served basis only); reserved 
seating in sections or rows located in premium locations (e.g., behind 
home plate or near the home team's end zone) that are not otherwise 
available for purchase by other spectators; access to wait staff for 
in-seat food or beverage

[[Page 34546]]

service; availability of catered food or beverages for pre-game, 
intermission, or post-game meals; restricted access to lounges with 
special amenities (such as couches or flat-screen televisions); or 
access to team personnel or facilities for team-sponsored events (e.g., 
autograph sessions, sideline passes, or facility tours) not otherwise 
available to other spectators.
    Proposed Sec.  36.406(f)(2) reiterates the longstanding requirement 
that wheelchair and companion seating must be integrated in the seating 
area, and adds a new prohibition: that the seating may not be placed on 
temporary platforms or other movable structures. The Department has 
become aware that a growing trend in the design of large sports 
facilities is to provide wheelchair seating on removable platforms that 
seat four or more wheelchair users and their companions. These 
platforms cover one or more rows of standard seating. The platforms are 
designed to be removed so that the part of the seating bowl they cover 
can be used to seat additional ambulatory spectators. The sale of any 
seats in the covered area requires removal of the platform, thereby 
eliminating some of the required wheelchair seating locations. In 
another design that produces a similar result, removable platforms 
configured to provide multiple, non-wheelchair seats are installed over 
some or all of the required wheelchair seating locations. In this 
configuration, selling a ticket for one wheelchair location requires 
the removal of multiple standard seats.
    The Department believes that both of these designs violate both the 
letter and the intent of this regulation. Both designs have the 
potential to reduce the number of available wheelchair seating spaces 
below the level required. Reducing the number of available spaces is 
likely to result in reducing the opportunity for people who use 
wheelchairs to have the same choice of ticket prices and access to 
amenities that are available to other patrons in the facility. In 
addition, placing wheelchair seating on removable platforms may have a 
disproportionate effect on the availability of seating for individuals 
who use wheelchairs and their companions attempting to buy tickets on 
the day of the event. Use of removable platforms may result in 
instances where last minute requests for wheelchair and companion 
seating cannot be met because entire sections of wheelchair seating 
will be lost when a platform is removed. The use of movable seats, on 
the other hand, could meet such a demand without eliminating blocks of 
wheelchair seating at a time, converting only those seats that are 
needed for ambulatory spectators and are not wanted by individuals who 
use wheelchairs and their companions.
    For these reasons, the Department believes that it is necessary and 
appropriate to prohibit the use of temporary platforms in fixed seating 
areas. Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit the use of 
temporary platforms to increase the available seating, e.g., platforms 
that cover a basketball court or hockey rink when the arena is being 
used for a concert. These areas of temporary seating do not remove 
required wheelchair locations and, therefore, would not violate the 
requirements of this regulation. In addition, covered entities would 
still be permitted to use individual movable seats to infill any 
wheelchair locations that are not sold to wheelchair users.
    Proposed Sec.  36.406(f)(3) requires facilities that have more than 
5,000 seats to provide at least five wheelchair locations with at least 
three companion seats for each wheelchair space. The Department is 
proposing this requirement to address complaints from many wheelchair 
users that the practice of providing a strict one-to-one relationship 
between wheelchair locations and companion seating often prevents 
family members from attending events together.
    Proposed Sec.  36.406(f)(4) provides more precise guidance for 
designers of stadium-style movie theaters by requiring such facilities 
to locate wheelchair seating spaces and companion seating on a riser or 
cross-aisle in the stadium section that satisfies at least one of the 
following criteria:

    (i) It is located within the rear sixty percent (60%) of the 
seats provided in an auditorium; or
    (ii) It is located within the area of an auditorium in which the 
vertical viewing angles (as measured to the top of the screen) are 
from the 40th to the 100th percentile of vertical viewing angles for 
all seats as ranked from the seats in the first row (1st percentile) 
to seats in the back row (100th percentile).

Section 36.406(g) Medical Care Facilities

    The Department is aware that the Access Board sought comment on how 
dispersion of accessible sleeping rooms can effectively be achieved and 
maintained in medical care facilities such as hospitals. In response, 
commenters representing people with disabilities supported a 
requirement for dispersion of accessible sleeping rooms among all types 
of medical specialty areas, such as obstetrics, orthopedics, 
pediatrics, and cardiac care. Conversely, commenters representing the 
health care industry pointed out that treatment areas in health care 
facilities can be very fluid due to fluctuation in the population and 
other demographic and medical funding trends. The Access Board decided 
not to add a dispersion requirement because compliance over the 
lifetime of the facility could prove difficult given the need for 
flexibility of spaces within such facilities. The Department recognizes 
that it may be difficult to ensure a perfect distribution of rooms 
throughout all specialty areas in a hospital, but the Department is 
concerned that the absence of any dispersion requirement may result in 
inappropriate concentrations of accessible rooms.
    Question 58: Is there a way to ensure that accessible hospital 
rooms are dispersed throughout the facility in a way that will not 
unduly restrain the ability of hospital administrators to allocate 
space as needed? The 1991 Standards require that ten percent (10%) of 
the patient bedrooms be accessible. If it is not feasible to distribute 
these rooms among each of the specialty areas, would it be appropriate 
that required accessible rooms be dispersed so that there are 
accessible patient rooms on each floor? Are there other methods of 
dispersal that would be more effective?

Section 36.407 Temporary Suspension of Certain Detectable Warning 
Requirements

    The Department has removed Sec.  36.407, entitled, ``Temporary 
suspension of certain detectable warning requirements,'' because the 
suspension has expired.

Other

    Miniature Golf Courses. The Department proposes to adopt the 
requirements for miniature golf courses in the 2004 ADAAG. However, it 
requests public comment on a suggested change to the requirement for 
holes to be consecutive. A commenter association argued that the 
``miniature golf experience'' includes not only putting but also 
enjoyment of ``beautiful landscaping, water elements that include 
ponds, fountain displays, and lazy rivers that matriculate throughout 
the course and themed structures that allow players to be taken into a 
`fantasy-like' area.'' Thus, requiring a series of consecutive 
accessible holes would limit the experience of guests with disabilities 
to one area of the course. To remedy this situation, the association 
suggests allowing multiple breaks in the sequence of accessible holes 
while maintaining the requirement that the

[[Page 34547]]

accessible holes are connected by an accessible route.
    The suggested change would need to be made by the Access Board and 
then adopted by the Department, and if adopted, it would apply to all 
miniature golf courses, not only existing miniature golf facilities.
    Question 59: The Department would like to hear from the public 
about the suggestion of allowing multiple breaks in the sequence of 
accessible holes, provided that the accessible holes are connected by 
an accessible route. Should the Department ask the Access Board to 
change the current requirement in the 2004 ADAAG?

Subpart F--Certification of State Laws or Local Building Codes

    Subpart F contains procedures implementing section 308(b)(1)(A)(ii) 
of the ADA, which provides that, on the application of a state or local 
jurisdiction, the Attorney General may certify that a state or local 
building code or similar ordinance meets or exceeds the minimum 
accessibility requirements of the Act. In enforcement proceedings, this 
certification will constitute rebuttable evidence that the law or code 
meets or exceeds the ADA's requirements. In its ANPRM, the Department 
proposed changes that would streamline the process for public entities 
seeking certification.
    In response to the comments received, the Department proposes three 
changes in Subpart F. First, the Department proposes to delete Sec.  
36.603, which establishes the obligations of a submitting authority 
that is seeking certification of its code. Due to the proposed deletion 
of Sec.  36.603, Sec. Sec.  36.604 through 36.608 are renumbered, and 
Sec.  36.603 in the proposed rule is modified to indicate that the 
Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division (Assistant 
Attorney General) shall make a preliminary determination of equivalency 
after ``receipt and review of all information relevant to a request 
filed by a submitting official for certification of a code.'' Second, 
the Department proposes that the requirement in Sec.  36.605 (proposed 
Sec.  36.604) (i.e., if the Assistant Attorney General makes a 
preliminary determination of equivalency, he or she shall hold an 
informal hearing in Washington, DC) be changed to a requirement that 
the hearing be held in the state or local jurisdiction charged with 
administration and enforcement of the code. Third, the Department 
proposes adding language to Sec.  36.607 (proposed Sec.  36.606) to 
explain the effect of the proposed standards on the codes of state or 
local jurisdictions that were determined in the past to meet or exceed 
the 1991 Standards. Once the proposed standards take effect, 
certifications issued under the 1991 Standards would not have any 
future effect, and states and local jurisdictions with codes certified 
under the 1991 Standards would need to reapply for certification under 
the proposed standards once adopted. The Department will make every 
effort to give these requests priority in the review process. With 
regard to elements of existing buildings and facilities constructed in 
compliance with a code when a certification of equivalency was in 
effect, the proposed rule would require that in any enforcement action 
this would be treated as rebuttable evidence of compliance with the 
Act's standards then in effect, which may implicate the barrier removal 
obligations of existing facilities and the ``safe harbor'' approach.
    Many commenters, including business organizations, a professional 
association, disability rights groups, and individuals with 
disabilities, urged that the Department take steps overall to 
streamline the certification process--including the initial request for 
certification process--and make it less time consuming and easier to 
``navigate'' for state and local jurisdictions. In response to these 
comments, the Department has deleted the current language in Sec.  
36.603, which established the obligations of a submitting authority 
seeking certification of its code. The Department anticipates that in 
place of Sec.  36.603, it will issue regulatory guidance in conjunction 
with the publication of the final rule that will provide more 
streamlined submission requirements and greater flexibility in the 
submission process.
    The Department believes that with the adoption of the proposed 
standards, the certification process will take significantly less time 
to complete and will be a more straightforward process. In addition, it 
will be easier for jurisdictions to identify inconsistencies with the 
ADA in advance of requesting certification, thereby facilitating the 
certification review process. The Department anticipates these results 
because of the extensive efforts made by the Access Board, working in 
conjunction with model code organizations, to harmonize the 2004 ADAAG 
with the accessibility provisions of the model codes, which form the 
basis of many state codes.
    The Department also supports the views of commenters who stressed 
the importance of continued harmonization efforts by the Access Board, 
in addition to the benefits of providing more technical guidance 
regarding the consistency of model codes with the ADA's requirements. 
In that regard, the Department expects to make available, in 
conjunction with its publication of the proposed standards, information 
indicating differences between the 1991 Standards and the proposed 
standards, and the model code of the International Code Council and 
other model codes.
    Many commenters, including a state enforcement agency, business 
organizations, and individuals with disabilities, urged the Department 
to eliminate the requirement that an informal hearing be held in 
Washington, DC, after issuance of a preliminary determination of 
equivalency, and to add a requirement that the hearing be held within 
the affected jurisdiction, since it would provide better opportunities 
for interested parties to attend and participate. Consistent with these 
comments, the Department has renumbered Sec.  36.605 as Sec.  36.604, 
and has proposed a new requirement: If the Assistant Attorney General 
makes a preliminary determination of equivalency, a hearing will be 
held in the state or local jurisdiction charged with administration and 
enforcement of the code.
    Two commenters, a professional association and a model code 
organization, urged the Department to add to the process for certifying 
state and local codes a procedure for determining ADA-compliant design 
and construction alternatives or equivalent facilitation, or 
alternatively, to adopt a separate mechanism for such determinations 
modeled after a state ``barrier free'' design board. One of these 
commenters also expressed frustration that local building code 
officials in jurisdictions with certified codes lacked the authority to 
issue binding interpretations of ADA compliance and suggested the 
transfer of such authority in conjunction with a certification 
determination.
    The Department has considered these proposals, but notes that the 
approaches suggested are not consistent with or permissible under the 
statutory scheme established by the ADA. Under the ADA, certification 
of state and local codes serves, to some extent, to mitigate the 
absence of a federal mechanism for reviewing nationally all 
architectural plans and inspecting all covered buildings under 
construction to ensure compliance with the ADA. In this regard, 
certification operates as a bridge between the obligation to comply 
with the 1991 Standards in new construction and alterations, and the 
administrative schemes of state and local governments

[[Page 34548]]

that regulate the design and construction process. By ensuring 
consistency between state or local codes and federal accessibility 
standards, certification has the additional benefit of streamlining the 
``regulatory process,'' thereby making it easier for those in the 
design and construction industry to satisfy both state and federal 
requirements.
    Although certification has the potential to increase compliance 
with the ADA, this result, however desirable, is not guaranteed. The 
ADA contemplated that there could be enforcement actions brought even 
in states with certified codes, and provided some protection in 
litigation to builders who adhered to the provisions of the code 
certified to be ADA-equivalent, without resorting to waivers or 
variances. The certified code, however, remains within the authority of 
the adopting state or local jurisdiction to interpret and enforce: 
certification does not transform a state's building code into federal 
law. Nor can certification alone authorize state and local building 
code officials implementing a certified code to do more than they are 
authorized to do under state or local law, and these officials cannot 
acquire authority through certification to render binding 
interpretations of federal law. Therefore, the Department, while 
understanding the interest in obtaining greater assurance of compliance 
with the ADA through the interpretation and enforcement of a certified 
code by local code officials, declines to amend the regulation to reach 
what are purely state and local processes of code enforcement and 
administration or to attempt to confer on local officials authority not 
granted to them under the ADA.
    The Department also declines to propose modifications to the 
regulation to require, as one individual commenter suggested, that the 
receipt of federal funds be made contingent upon a state or local 
government's willingness to bring its building code into compliance 
with the ADA and, ostensibly, obtain certification. The ADA establishes 
certification as a voluntary process; altering the statutory scheme is 
beyond the Department's authority.
    A comment received from a firm representing several business 
organizations questioned whether the current certification process 
could ever provide states with certified codes the opportunity to keep 
current with changes in model codes because of inflexibility in either 
the federal rulemaking process or the certification process itself. The 
commenter also pointed out that there are a number of states with codes 
that follow the current ``guidelines'' but have not received 
certification. All of these circumstances require that ``the 
certification process * * * start over under a new process.'' The 
Department shares the commenter's concern regarding the importance of 
states with certified codes to update and keep their code 
certifications current. In that regard, the Department has undertaken 
significant outreach to remind states of the need to request review 
from the Department for changes or amendments to a certified code. The 
Department also has written to states that have not sought code 
certification to encourage them to do so. However, certification is a 
voluntary process, and the Department cannot require that states with 
certified codes submit amendments to a certified code any more than it 
can require the initial code certification. The Department will 
continue to remind states with certified codes that the protection in 
litigation available through compliance with a certified code does not 
extend to uncertified code amendments.
    The Department requested comment in its ANPRM on what impact the 
proposed standards should have on the status of accessibility 
requirements that were previously determined to have met or exceeded 
the 1991 Standards. A number of commenters, including business groups, 
retail associations, hotel chains, associations of amusement parks, and 
a national chamber of commerce, urged the Department to allow each 
jurisdiction with a certified accessibility code to retain its 
certification after the adoption of the proposed standards under ``safe 
harbor'' provisions. Many of the same commenters urged the Department 
to provide facilities constructed in accordance with currently 
certified accessibility codes meaningful protection from litigation.
    Other commenters expressed a different view concerning the impact 
the proposed standards should have on currently certified codes. A 
state enforcement agency urged the Department to allow each 
jurisdiction with a certified accessibility code to retain its 
certification only if the relevant jurisdiction could show that its 
accessibility code meets the proposed standards. An organization 
representing people with disabilities urged the Department to require 
each jurisdiction with a certified accessibility code to amend its 
accessibility code to meet the proposed standards thirty days after 
they are adopted. Another commenter, an individual with a disability, 
urged the Department to allow each jurisdiction with a certified 
accessibility code to retain its certification for a period of five 
years so that the relevant jurisdiction could amend its accessibility 
code to meet the proposed standards once adopted.
    Two commenters, an architectural firm and an organization of 
disability access professionals, suggested that the Department 
implement a re-certification process to:
    (1) Expedite those jurisdictions now certified; and (2) allow those 
jurisdictions to retain their certifications while amending their 
accessibility codes to meet the proposed standards. While the 
Department understands the substantial commitment of time and effort 
expended by states that have obtained certification of their codes, the 
Department anticipates requiring certification of equivalency for the 
accessibility requirements for construction and alteration of title III 
facilities on the basis of the proposed standards once they take 
effect. Thus, states with codes certified under the 1991 Standards will 
need to conform their codes to the proposed standards and obtain 
certification for the revised code. Any other approach would place the 
Department in the untenable position of the appearance of sanctioning 
the continued use of codes in certain parts of the country that are 
based upon outdated federal standards, while requiring compliance with 
the proposed standards in the rest of the country. With regard to 
facilities constructed in compliance with a certified code prior to the 
proposed standards, and during the period when a certification of 
equivalency was in effect, the Department is considering an approach 
that may merge with the basic safe harbor discussed in Sec.  36.304 
with respect to existing facilities constructed in compliance with the 
1991 Standards. So, for example, if the Department adopts a safe harbor 
provision for all elements in existing facilities constructed in 
compliance with the 1991 Standards, then existing facilities in states 
with certified codes would be eligible for a safe harbor if they were 
constructed in compliance with an ADA-certified code. In this scenario, 
compliance with the certified code would be treated as evidence of 
compliance with the 1991 Standards for purposes of determining the 
application of the safe harbor provisions. Similarly, the Department 
believes that builders who constructed in compliance with a certified 
code should retain the protections in litigation that certification 
conferred, but only with regard to the ADA Standards in effect at the 
time. Therefore, in an enforcement action involving elements of 
existing facilities constructed in compliance

[[Page 34549]]

with a certified code, compliance with the certified code would 
continue to constitute rebuttable evidence of compliance with the ADA 
Standards then in effect, which could be relevant to a number of issues 
in the future such as barrier removal and good faith on the part of 
builders or business owners. Builders of newly constructed or altered 
facilities, however, would only receive protection in litigation if 
they constructed in compliance with a code certified as equivalent to 
the proposed standards.
    The Department has amended Sec.  36.607 (proposed Sec.  36.606) 
that explains the effect of the proposed standards on existing 
certifications of equivalency issued under the 1991 Standards.
    In addition, the Department has considered proposals that the 
Department ``fast-track'' a request for re-certification and give 
greater priority to states seeking re-certification for their codes. 
The Department plans to facilitate the efforts of states with codes 
certified under the 1991 Standards to obtain certification under the 
proposed standards. After publication of the proposed standards, but 
before their effective date, the Department will concentrate its 
efforts on assisting states with certified codes to identify the 
changes needed to conform their existing codes to the proposed 
standards. Priority in the review process will be given to states with 
certified codes interested in obtaining re-certification pursuant to 
the proposed standards. In addition, the Department will consider 
approaches internally that could result in a more efficient process for 
satisfying the procedural requirements for issuance of preliminary 
determinations, such as consolidating the Federal Register notices for 
the comment periods of two or more states if determinations are issued 
in close proximity to one another, and scheduling informal hearings in 
a manner that maximizes the ability of the Department's staff to 
conduct them within a relatively short time period.
    Effect on the certification process of using more than one 
regulatory scheme at the state or local level to establish 
accessibility requirements for title III facilities with new design 
requirements in the proposed standards. The proposed standards will 
include requirements for elements and spaces that are not addressed 
specifically in the 1991 Standards, including elements within 
recreational facilities and play areas such as swimming pools, spas, 
miniature golf courses, components in play areas, amusement rides, 
boating facilities, and fishing piers or platforms. Many of these will 
be constructed as components of buildings and facilities regulated by 
state and local governments through their building codes. In other 
instances, they may not occur in conjunction with a building or 
facility that is traditionally regulated through the building code. The 
Department understands that state and local governments may differ in 
their choices regarding how to incorporate new accessibility 
requirements for recreational facilities and play areas. The 
opportunity to seek certification is not limited to jurisdictions that 
incorporate accessibility requirements into building codes and enforce 
them through a building code authority. Jurisdictions can adopt legally 
enforceable accessibility requirements through a variety of regulatory 
schemes, including the building code, and lodge oversight authority in 
a governmental entity other than a code authority, such as a human 
relations commission, a department of public safety, the office of a 
local fire marshal, or an office that issues business licenses.
    The Department is considering what impact the administration of 
accessibility requirements through more than one regulatory scheme 
under the authority of more than one state or local agency should have 
on the certification review process. The Department contemplates that 
when a jurisdiction uses more than one regulatory scheme to incorporate 
its accessibility requirements for title III facilities, all of the 
requirements would be the subject of a request for certification, even 
if there are ``joint'' submitting officials representing the respective 
agencies with enforcement responsibility.
    Additional Information:

Withdrawal of Outstanding NPRMs

    With the publication of this NPRM, the Department is withdrawing 
three outstanding NPRMs: the joint NPRM of the Department and the 
Access Board dealing with children's facilities, published on July 22, 
1996, at 61 FR 37964; the Department's proposal to extend the time 
period for providing curb ramps at existing pedestrian walkways, 
published on November 27, 1995, at 60 FR 58462; and the Department's 
proposal to adopt the Access Board's accessibility guidelines and 
specifications for state and local government facilities, published as 
an interim final rule by the Access Board on June 20, 1994, at 59 FR 
31676, and by the Department as a proposed rule on June 20, 1994, at 59 
FR 31808. To the extent that those proposals were incorporated in the 
2004 ADAAG, they will all be included in the Department's proposed 
standards.

Regulatory Process Matters

    This NPRM has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under Executive Order 12866. 58 FR 51735 (Sept. 30, 1993). The 
Department has evaluated its existing regulations for title II and 
title III section by section, and many of the proposals in its NPRMs 
for both titles reflect its efforts to mitigate any negative effects on 
small entities. The Department has also prepared an initial regulatory 
impact analysis (RIA), as directed by Executive Order 12866 (amended 
without substantial change by E.O. 13258, 67 FR 9385 (Feb. 26, 2002), 
and E.O. 13422, 72 FR 2763 (Jan. 18, 2007)), and OMB Circular A-4.
    The Department's initial regulatory impact analysis measures the 
incremental benefits and costs of the proposed standards relative to 
the benefits and costs of the 1991 Standards. The assessment has 
estimated the benefits and costs of all new and revised requirements as 
they would apply to newly constructed facilities, altered facilities, 
and facilities that are removing barriers to access.
    A summary of the regulatory assessment, including the Department's 
responses to public comments addressing its proposed methodology and 
approach, is attached as Appendix B to this NPRM. The complete, formal 
report of the initial regulatory impact analysis is available online 
for public review on the Department's ADA Home Page (http://
www.ada.gov) and at http://www.regulations.gov. The report is the work 
product of the Department's contractor, HDR/HLB Decision Economics, 
Inc. The Department has adopted the results of this analysis as its 
assessment of the benefits and costs that the proposed standards will 
confer on society. The Department invites the public to read the full 
report and to submit electronic comments at http://www.regulations.gov.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This NPRM has also been reviewed by the Small Business 
Administration's Office of Advocacy pursuant to Executive Order 13272, 
67 FR 53461 (Aug. 13, 2002). Because the proposed rule, if adopted, may 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, the Department has conducted an Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as a component of this rulemaking. The 
Department's ANPRM, NPRM, and the RIA include all of the elements of 
the IRFA required by the Regulatory

[[Page 34550]]

Flexibility Act (RFA). See 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as amended by the 
SBREFA, 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(1)-(5), 603(c).
    Section 603(b) lists specific requirements for an IRFA regulatory 
analysis. The Department has addressed these IRFA issues throughout the 
ANPRM, NPRM, and the RIA. In summary, the Department has satisfied its 
IRFA obligations under section 603(b) by providing the following:
    1. Description of the reasons that action by the agency is being 
considered. See, e.g., ``The Roles of the Access Board and the 
Department of Justice,'' ``The Revised Guidelines,'' and ``The Advance 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking'' sections of the titles II and III 
NPRMs; Section 2.1, ``Access Board Regulatory Assessment'' of the 
initial regulatory impact analysis; see also Department of Justice ADA 
Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 69 FR 58768, 58768-70, (Sept. 
30, 2004) (outlining the regulatory history and rationale underlying 
DOJ's proposal to revise its regulations implementing titles II and III 
of the ADA);
    2. Succinct statement of the objectives of, and legal basis for, 
the proposed rule. See, e.g., titles II and III NPRM sections entitled, 
``Summary,'' ``Overview,'' ``Purpose,'' ``The ADA and Department of 
Justice Regulations,'' ``The Roles of the Access Board and the 
Department of Justice,'' ``Background (SBREFA, Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, and Executive Order) Reviews,'' and ``Regulatory Impact 
Analysis''; App. B: Regulatory Assessment sections entitled, 
``Background,'' ``Regulatory Alternatives,'' ``Regulatory Proposals 
with Cost Implications,'' and ``Measurement of Incremental Benefits''; 
see also 69 FR at 58768-70, 58778-79 (outlining the goals and statutory 
directives for the regulations implementing titles II and III of the 
ADA);
    3. Description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of the number 
of small entities to which the proposed rule will apply. See Section 6, 
``Small Business Impact Analysis'' and App. 5, ``Small Business Data of 
the RIA'' (available for review at http://www.ada.gov); see also App. 
B: Regulatory Assessment sections entitled, ``Regulatory 
Alternatives,'' Regulatory Proposals with Cost Implications,'' and 
``Measurement of Incremental Benefits'' (estimating the number of small 
entities the Department believes may be impacted by the proposed rules 
and calculating the likely incremental economic impact of these rules 
on small facilities/entities versus ``typical'' (i.e., average-sized) 
facilities/entities);
    4. Description of the projected reporting, record-keeping, and 
other compliance requirements of the proposed rule, including an 
estimate of the classes of small entities that will be subject to the 
requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for 
preparation of the report or record. See titles II and III NPRM 
sections entitled, ``Paperwork Reduction Act'' (providing that no new 
record-keeping or reporting requirements will be imposed by the NPRMs). 
The Department acknowledges that there are other compliance 
requirements in the NPRMs that may impose costs on small entities. 
These costs are presented in the Department's Initial Regulatory Impact 
Analysis, Chapter 6, ``Small Business Impact Analysis'' and 
accompanying App. 5, ``Small Business Data'' (available for review at 
http://www.ada.gov);
    5. Identification, to the extent practicable, of all relevant 
federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the 
proposed rule. See, e.g., title II NPRM sections entitled, ``Analysis 
of Impact on Small Entities'' (generally describing DOJ efforts to 
eliminate duplication or overlap in federal accessibility guidelines), 
``The ADA and Department of Justice Regulations,'' ``Social Service 
Establishments'' (Sec.  35.151(e)), ``Streamlining Complaint 
Investigations and Designated Agency Authority'' (Sec. Sec.  35.171, 
35.172, and 35.190), ``Executive Order 13132: Federalism'' (discussing 
interplay of section 504 and ADA Standards), ``Alterations'' (Sec.  
35.151(b)) (discussing interplay of UFAS and ADA Standards); title III 
NPRM sections entitled, ``Analysis of Impact on Small Entities'' 
(generally describing DOJ's harmonization efforts with other federal 
accessibility guidelines), ``Social Service Establishments'' (Sec.  
36.406(d)), ``Definitions of Residential Facilities and Transient 
Lodging,'' ``Housing at a Place of Education'' (Sec.  36.406(e)) 
(discussing section 504), ``Change `Service Animal' to `Assistance 
Animal,'' ' ``Scope of Coverage'' (discussing Fair Housing Act), 
``Effective Date: Time Period,'' and ``Social Service Establishments'' 
(discussing UFAS); and
    6. Description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule 
that accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and 
minimize any significant impact of the proposed rule on small entities, 
including alternatives considered, such as: (1) Establishment of 
differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take 
into account the resources available to small entities; (2) use of 
performance rather than design standards; and (3) any exemption from 
coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.
    The Department's rulemaking efforts satisfy the IRFA requirements 
for consideration of significant regulatory alternatives. In September 
2004, the Department issued an ANPRM to commence the process of 
revising its regulations implementing titles II and III of the ADA. See 
69 FR 58768 (Sept. 30, 2004). Among other things, the ANPRM sought 
public comment on 54 specific questions. Prominent among these 
questions was the issue of whether (and how) to craft a ``safe harbor'' 
provision for existing title III-covered facilities/entities that would 
reduce the financial burden of complying with the 2004 ADAAG. See id. 
at 58771-58772. The ANPRM also specifically invited comment from small 
entities concerning the proposed rules' potential economic impact and 
suggested regulatory alternatives to ameliorate such impact. Id. at 
58779 (Question 10). By the end of the comment period, the Department 
had received over 900 comments, including comments from SBA's Office of 
Advocacy and small entities. See, e.g., title II NPRM Preamble and 
title III NPRM Preamble sections entitled, ``The Advance Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking'' (summarizing public response to the ANPRM). Many 
small business advocates expressed concern regarding the cost of making 
older existing title III-covered buildings compliant with new 
regulations (since many small businesses operate in such facilities) 
and urged DOJ to issue clearer guidance on barrier removal. See title 
III NPRM Preamble discussion of ``Safe harbor and other proposed 
limitations on barrier removal.'' In drafting the NPRMs for titles II 
and III, the Department expressly addressed small businesses' 
collective ANPRM comments and proposed regulatory alternatives to help 
mitigate the economic impact of the proposed regulations on small 
entities. For example, the Department's regulatory proposals:
     Provide a ``safe harbor'' provision whereby elements in 
existing title II- or title III-covered buildings or facilities that 
are compliant with the current 1991 Standards or UFAS need not be 
modified to comply with the standards in the proposed regulations (see 
``Safe Harbor'' and Sec.  35.150(b)(2) of the title II NPRM ``Safe 
Harbor and Other Proposed Limitations on Barrier Removal'' and Sec.  
36.304 of the title III NPRM);
     Adopt a regulatory alternative for barrier removal that, 
for the first time, provides a specific annual monetary ``cost cap'' 
for barrier removal

[[Page 34551]]

obligations for qualified small businesses (see title III NPRM sections 
entitled, ``Safe Harbor and Other Proposed Limitations on Barrier 
Removal'' and ``Safe Harbor for Qualified Small Businesses Regarding 
What Is Readily Achievable'');
     Exempt certain existing small recreational facilities 
(i.e., play areas, swimming pools, saunas, and steam rooms) which, in 
turn, are often owned or operated by small entities, from barrier 
removal obligations in order to comply with the standards in the 
proposed regulations (see title II NPRM at Sec.  35.150(b)(4) and (5) 
and title III NPRM section entitled, ``Reduced Scoping for Public 
Accommodations, Small Facilities, and Qualified Small Businesses''); 
and
     Reduce scoping for certain other existing recreational 
facilities (i.e., play areas over 1,000 square feet and swimming pools 
with over 300 linear feet of pool wall) operated by either title II or 
title III entities (see title II NPRM at Sec.  35.150(b)(4) and (5) and 
title III NPRM section entitled, ``Reduced Scoping for Public 
Accommodations, Small Facilities, and Qualified Small Businesses'').
    Taken together, the foregoing regulatory proposals amply 
demonstrate that the Department was sensitive to the potential economic 
impact of the revised regulations on small businesses and attempted to 
mitigate this impact with a variety of provisions that, to the extent 
consistent with the ADA, impose reduced compliance standards on small 
entities.
    Section 610 Review. The Department is also required to conduct a 
periodic regulatory review pursuant to section 610 of the RFA, 5 U.S.C. 
601 et seq., as amended by the SBREFA, 5 U.S.C. 610 et seq.
    The review requires agencies to consider five factors: (1) The 
continued need for the rule; (2) the nature of complaints or comments 
received concerning the rule from the public; (3) the complexity of the 
rule; (4) the extent to which the rule overlaps, duplicates, or 
conflicts with other federal rules and, to the extent feasible, with 
state and local governmental rules; and (5) the length of time since 
the rule has been evaluated or the degree to which technology, economic 
conditions, or other factors have changed in the area affected by the 
rule. See 5 U.S.C. 610(b). Based on these factors, the agency is 
required to determine whether to continue the rule without change or to 
amend or rescind the rule, to minimize any significant economic impact 
of the rule on a substantial number of small entities. See id. at 
610(a).
    In developing these proposed rules, the Department has gone through 
its regulations section by section, and, as a result, proposes several 
clarifications and amendments in both the title II and title III 
implementing regulations. The proposals reflect the Department's 
analysis and review of complaints or comments from the public as well 
as changes in technology. Many of the proposals aim to clarify and 
simplify the obligations of covered entities. As discussed in greater 
detail above, one significant goal of the development of the 2004 ADAAG 
was to eliminate duplication or overlap in federal accessibility 
guidelines as well as to harmonize the federal guidelines with model 
codes. The Department has also worked to create harmony where 
appropriate between the requirements of titles II and III. Finally, 
while the regulation is required by statute and there is a continued 
need for it as a whole, the Department proposes several modifications 
that are intended to reduce its effects on small entities.
    The Department has consulted with the Small Business 
Administration's Office of Advocacy about this process. The Office of 
Advocacy has advised that although the process followed by the 
Department was ancillary to the proposed adoption of revised ADA 
Standards, the steps taken to solicit public input and to respond to 
public concerns is functionally equivalent to the process required to 
complete a section 610 review. Therefore, this rulemaking fulfills the 
Department's obligations under the RFA.

Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    Executive Order 13132, 64 FR 43255 (Aug. 4, 1999), requires 
executive branch agencies to consider whether a proposed rule will have 
federalism implications. That is, the rulemaking agency must determine 
whether the rule is likely to have substantial direct effects on state 
and local governments, a substantial direct effect on the relationship 
between the federal government and the states and localities, or a 
substantial direct effect on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the different levels of government. If an agency 
believes that a proposed rule is likely to have federalism 
implications, it must consult with state and local elected officials 
about how to minimize or eliminate the effects.
    Title II of the ADA covers state and local government programs, 
services, and activities and, therefore, clearly has some federalism 
implications. State and local governments have been subject to the ADA 
since 1991, and the majority have also been required to comply with the 
requirements of section 504. Hence, the ADA and the title II 
regulations are not novel for state and local governments. This 
proposed rule will preempt state laws affecting entities subject to the 
ADA only to the extent that those laws directly conflict with the 
statutory requirements of the ADA. But the Department believes it is 
prudent to consult with public entities about the potential federalism 
implications of the proposed title II regulations.
    Title III of the ADA covers public accommodations and commercial 
facilities. These facilities are generally subject to regulation by 
different levels of government, including federal, state, and local 
governments. The ADA and the Department's implementing regulations set 
minimum civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities that 
in turn may affect the implementation of state and local laws, 
particularly building codes. For these reasons, the Department has 
determined that this NPRM may have federalism implications and requires 
intergovernmental consultation in compliance with Executive Order 
13132.
    The Department intends to amend the regulations in a manner that 
meets the objectives of the ADA while also minimizing conflicts between 
state law and federal interests. To that end, as a member of the Access 
Board, the Department has been privy to substantial feedback from state 
and local governments through the development of the 2004 ADAAG. In 
addition, the Department solicited and received input from public 
entities in the September 2004 ANPRM. Some elements of the proposed 
rules reflect the Department's work to mitigate federalism 
implications, particularly the provisions that streamline the 
administrative process for state and local governments seeking ADA code 
certification under title III.
    The Department is now soliciting comments from elected state and 
local officials and their representative national organizations through 
this NPRM. The Department seeks comment from all interested parties, 
but especially state and local elected officials, about the potential 
federalism implications of the proposed rule. The Department welcomes 
comments on whether the proposed rule may have direct effects on state 
and local governments, the relationship between the Federal Government 
and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among 
the various levels of government.

[[Page 34552]]

National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 
(NTTAA) directs that all federal agencies and departments shall use 
technical standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary 
consensus standards bodies, which are private, generally non-profit 
organizations that develop technical standards or specifications using 
well-defined procedures that require openness, balanced participation 
among affected interests and groups, fairness and due process, and an 
opportunity for appeal, as a means to carry out policy objectives or 
activities. Public Law 104-113 (15 U.S.C. 272(b)). In addition, the 
NTTAA directs agencies to consult with voluntary, private sector, 
consensus standards bodies and requires that agencies participate with 
such bodies in the development of technical standards when such 
participation is in the public interest and is compatible with agency 
and departmental missions, authorities, priorities, and budget 
resources.
    The Department, as a member of the Access Board, was an active 
participant in the lengthy process of developing the 2004 ADAAG, on 
which the proposed standards are based. As part of this update, the 
Board has made its guidelines more consistent with model building 
codes, such as the International Building Code (IBC), and industry 
standards. It coordinated extensively with model code groups and 
standard-setting bodies throughout the process so that differences 
could be reconciled. As a result, an historic level of harmonization 
has been achieved that has brought about improvements to the 
guidelines, as well as to counterpart provisions in the IBC and key 
industry standards, including those for accessible facilities issued 
through the American National Standards Institute.

Plain Language Instructions

    The Department makes every effort to promote clarity and 
transparency in its rulemaking. In any regulation, there is a tension 
between drafting language that is simple and straightforward that also 
gives full effect to issues of legal interpretation. The Department 
operates a toll-free ADA Information Line (800-514-0301 (voice); 800-
514-0383 (TTY)) that the public is welcome to call at any time to 
obtain assistance in understanding anything in this rule. If any 
commenter has suggestions for how the regulation could be written more 
clearly, please contact Janet L. Blizard, Deputy Chief, Disability 
Rights Section, whose contact information is provided in the 
introductory section of this rule, entitled, FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires agencies to clear forms 
and recordkeeping requirements with OMB before they can be introduced. 
44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. This rule does not contain any paperwork or 
recordkeeping requirements and does not require clearance under the 
PRA.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Section 4(2) of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 
1503(2), excludes from coverage under that Act any proposed or final 
federal regulation that ``establishes or enforces any statutory rights 
that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, 
sex, national origin, age, handicap, or disability.'' Accordingly, this 
rulemaking is not subject to the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act.

List of Subjects for 28 CFR Part 36

    Administrative practice and procedure, Buildings and facilities, 
Business and industry, Civil rights, Individuals with disabilities, 
Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    By the authority vested in me as Attorney General by law, including 
28 U.S.C. 509 and 510, 5 U.S.C. 301, and section 306 of the Americans 
with Disabilities Act, Public Law 101-336, 42 U.S.C. 12186, and for the 
reasons set forth in the preamble, Chapter I of title 28 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations is proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 36--NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY BY PUBLIC 
ACCOMMODATIONS AND IN COMMERCIAL FACILITIES

Subpart A--General

    1. The authority citation for 28 CFR part 36 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510; 42 U.S.C. 12186(b).

    2-3. Amend Sec.  36.104 by adding the following definitions of 1991 
Standards, 2004 ADAAG, direct threat, existing facility, other power-
driven mobility device, place of lodging, proposed standards, qualified 
reader, qualified small business, video interpreting services (VIS), 
and wheelchair in alphabetical order and revising the definitions of 
qualified interpreter and service animal to read as follows:


Sec.  36.104  Definitions.

    1991 Standards means the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, as 
defined in 28 CFR part 36, Appendix A.
    2004 ADAAG means the requirements set forth in appendices B and D 
to 36 CFR part 1191.
* * * * *
    Direct threat means a significant risk to the health or safety of 
others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, 
practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or 
services.
* * * * *
    Existing facility means a facility that has been constructed and 
remains in existence on any given date.
* * * * *
    Other power-driven mobility device means any of a large range of 
devices powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines--whether or not 
designed solely for use by individuals with mobility impairments--that 
are used by individuals with mobility impairments for the purpose of 
locomotion, including golf cars, bicycles, electronic personal 
assistance mobility devices (EPAMDs), or any mobility aid designed to 
operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes.
* * * * *
    Place of lodging. For purposes of this part, a facility is a place 
of lodging if it--
    (1) Provides guestrooms for sleeping for stays that are primarily 
short-term in nature (generally two weeks or less) where the occupant 
does not have the right or intent to return to a specific room or unit 
after the conclusion of his or her stay;
    (2) Under conditions and with amenities similar to a hotel, motel, 
or inn, including--
    (i) An on-site proprietor and reservations desk,
    (ii) Rooms available on a walk-up basis,
    (iii) Linen service, and
    (iv) Accepting reservations for a room type without guaranteeing a 
particular unit or room until check-in, without a prior lease or 
security deposit.
* * * * *
    Proposed standards means the requirements set forth in appendices B 
and D to 36 CFR part 1191 as adopted by the Department of Justice.
* * * * *
    Qualified interpreter means an interpreter who is able to interpret 
effectively, accurately, and impartially using any necessary 
specialized vocabulary. Qualified interpreters include, for example, 
sign language

[[Page 34553]]

interpreters, oral interpreters, and cued speech interpreters. Oral 
interpreter means an interpreter who has special skill and training to 
mouth a speaker's words silently for individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing. Cued speech interpreter means an interpreter who functions 
in the same manner as an oral interpreter except that he or she also 
uses a hand code, or cue, to represent each speech sound.
    Qualified reader means a person who is able to read effectively, 
accurately, and impartially using any necessary vocabulary.
    Qualified small business means a public accommodation that meets 
the definition of ``business concern'' in 13 CFR 121.105 and that, 
together with its Affiliates, as determined pursuant to the criteria 
set forth in 13 CFR 121.103, meets the small business size standards 
established in 13 CFR 121.201, for the industry in which it is 
primarily engaged, as amended from time to time by the Small Business 
Administration. The term ``primarily engaged'' for purposes of this 
definition is defined in 13 CFR 121.107.
* * * * *
    Service animal means any dog or other common domestic animal 
individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an 
individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding 
individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who 
are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, 
providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, 
fetching items, assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving 
medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance 
with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, 
and assisting individuals, including those with cognitive disabilities, 
with navigation. The term service animal includes individually trained 
animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals 
with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental 
disabilities. The term service animal does not include wild animals 
(including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, 
farm animals (including any breed of horse, miniature horse, pony, pig, 
or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents. Animals whose sole function 
is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, 
therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not 
service animals.
* * * * *
    Video interpreting services (VIS) means an interpreting service 
that uses video conference technology over high-speed internet lines. 
VIS generally consists of a videophone, monitors, cameras, a high-speed 
internet connection, and an interpreter.
    Wheelchair means a device designed solely for use by an individual 
with a mobility impairment for the primary purpose of locomotion in 
typical indoor and outdoor pedestrian areas. A wheelchair may be 
manually operated or power-driven.

Subpart B--General Requirements


Sec.  36.208  [Amended]

    4. Amend Sec.  36.208 by removing paragraph (b) and redesignating 
paragraph (c) as paragraph (b).
    5. Amend Sec.  36.211 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.211  Maintenance of accessible features.

* * * * *
    (c) If the proposed standards reduce the number of required 
accessible elements below the number required by the 1991 Standards, 
the number of accessible elements in a facility subject to this part 
may be reduced in accordance with the requirements of the proposed 
standards.

Subpart C--Specific Requirements

    6. Amend Sec.  36.302 as follows:
    a. Revise paragraph (c)(2);
    b. Add paragraphs (c)(3) through (c)(8) and paragraphs (e) and (f) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  36.302  Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) Exceptions. A public accommodation may ask an individual with a 
disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:
    (i) The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not 
take effective action to control it;
    (ii) The animal is not housebroken or the animal's presence or 
behavior fundamentally alters the nature of the service the public 
accommodation provides (e.g., repeated barking during a live 
performance); or
    (iii) The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of 
others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable modifications.
    (3) If an animal is properly excluded. If a place of accommodation 
properly excludes a service animal, it shall give the individual with a 
disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and 
accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.
    (4) General requirements. The work or tasks performed by a service 
animal shall be directly related to the handler's disability. A service 
animal that accompanies an individual with a disability into a place of 
public accommodation shall be individually trained to do work or 
perform a task, housebroken, and under the control of its handler. A 
service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether.
    (5) Care or supervision of service animals. A public accommodation 
is not responsible for caring for or supervising a service animal.
    (6) Inquiries. A public accommodation shall not ask about the 
nature or extent of a person's disability, but can determine whether an 
animal qualifies as a service animal. For example, a public 
accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a 
disability; and what work or task the animal has been trained to 
perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation, such 
as proof that the animal has been certified or licensed as a service 
animal.
    (7) Access to areas open to the public, program participants, and 
invitees. Individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by service 
animals may access all areas of a place of public accommodation where 
members of the public, program participants, and invitees are allowed 
to go.
    (8) Fees or surcharges. A public accommodation shall not ask or 
require an individual with a disability to post a deposit, pay a fee or 
surcharge, or comply with other requirements not generally applicable 
to other patrons as a condition of permitting a service animal to 
accompany its handler in a place of public accommodation, even if 
people accompanied by pets are required to do so. If a public 
accommodation normally charges its clients or customers for damage that 
they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage 
caused by his or her service animal.
* * * * *
    (e) Hotel reservations. A public accommodation that owns, leases 
(or leases to), or operates a place of lodging shall:
    (1) Modify its policies, practices, or procedures to ensure that 
individuals with disabilities can make reservations, including 
reservations made by telephone, in-person, or through a third party, 
for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner 
as individuals who do not need accessible rooms;

[[Page 34554]]

    (2) Identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and 
guest rooms offered through the reservations service; and
    (3) Guarantee that an accessible guest room reserved through the 
reservations service will be held for the reserving customer during the 
reservation period to the same extent that it guarantees reservations 
made by others.
    (f) Ticketing. (1) General. A public accommodation shall modify its 
policies, practices, or procedures to ensure that individuals with 
disabilities can purchase tickets for accessible seating during the 
same hours, through the same methods of distribution, and in the same 
types and numbers of ticketing sales outlets, including telephone 
service, in-person ticket sales at the facility, or third-party 
ticketing services, as other patrons.
    (2) Availability. Tickets for accessible seating shall be made 
available during all stages of ticket sales, including, but not limited 
to, presales, promotions, lotteries, waitlists, and general sales.
    (3) Identification of accessible seating. Wheelchair seating and 
companion seats shall be identified on seating maps, plans, brochures, 
or other information provided to the general public to describe the 
seating layout or configurations at an assembly area.
    (4) Notification of accessible seating locations. A public 
accommodation that sells or distributes tickets for seating at assembly 
areas shall, upon inquiry, inform spectators with disabilities and 
their companions of the locations of all unsold or otherwise available 
accessible seating for any ticketed event at the facility.
    (5) Sale of season tickets or other tickets for multiple events. 
Season tickets or other tickets sold on a multi-event basis to 
individuals with disabilities and their companions shall be sold under 
the same terms and conditions as other tickets sold for the same series 
of events. Spectators purchasing tickets for accessible seating on a 
multi-event basis shall also be permitted to transfer tickets for 
single-event use by friends or associates in the same fashion and to 
the same extent as permitted other spectators holding tickets for the 
same type of ticketing plan.
    (6) Hold and release of accessible seating. A public accommodation 
may release unsold accessible seating to any person with or without a 
disability following any of the circumstances described below:
    (i) When all seating (excluding luxury boxes, club boxes, or 
suites) for an event have been sold;
    (ii) When all seating in a designated area in the facility has been 
sold and the accessible seating being released is in the same 
designated area; or
    (iii) When all seating in a designated price range has been sold 
and the accessible seating being sold is within the same designated 
price range. Nothing in this provision requires a facility to release 
wheelchair seats for general sale.
    (7) Ticket prices. The price of tickets for accessible seating 
shall not be set higher than for tickets to seating located in the same 
seating section for the same event. Accessible seating must be made 
available at all price levels for an event. If an existing facility has 
barriers to accessible seating at a particular price level for an 
event, then a percentage (determined by the ratio of the total number 
of seats at that price level to the total number of seats in the 
assembly area) of the number of accessible seats must be provided at 
that price level in an accessible location. In no case shall the price 
of any particular accessible seat exceed the price that would 
ordinarily be charged for an inaccessible seat in that location.
    (8) Prevention of fraudulent purchase of accessible seating. A 
public accommodation may not require proof of disability before selling 
a wheelchair space.
    (i) For the sale of single-event tickets, it is permissible to 
inquire whether the individual purchasing the wheelchair space uses a 
wheelchair.
    (ii) For season tickets, subscriptions or other multi-events, it is 
permissible to ask the individual to attest in writing that the 
wheelchair space is for an individual who utilizes a wheelchair. A 
public accommodation may investigate the potential misuse of accessible 
seating where there is good cause to believe that such seating has been 
purchased fraudulently.
    (9) Purchasing multiple tickets. (i) Individuals with disabilities 
and their companions shall be permitted to purchase the same maximum 
number of tickets for an event per sales transaction as other 
spectators seeking to purchase seats for the same event. If there is an 
insufficient number of seats for all members of a party to sit 
together, seats shall be provided that are as close as possible to the 
wheelchair spaces. For accessible seating in a designated wheelchair 
area, a public accommodation shall provide up to three companion seats 
for each person with a disability who requires a wheelchair space, 
provided that at the time of purchase there are sufficient available 
wheelchair spaces.
    (ii) For group sales, if a group includes one or more individuals 
who use a wheelchair, the group shall be placed in a seating area that 
includes wheelchair spaces so that, if possible, the group can sit 
together. If it is necessary to divide the group, it should be divided 
so that the individuals in the group who use wheelchairs are not 
isolated from their group.
    7. Amend Sec.  36.303 as follows:
    a. Revise paragraphs (b) introductory text, (b)(1), (b)(2), (c), 
and (d);
    b. Redesignate paragraph (f) as paragraph (h);
    c. Add paragraphs (f) and (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.303  Auxiliary aids and services

* * * * *
    (b) Examples. The term auxiliary aids and services includes--
    (1) Qualified interpreters, notetakers, computer-aided 
transcription services, written materials, exchange of written notes, 
telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive 
listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed 
caption decoders, open and closed captioning, text telephones (TTYs), 
videotext displays, video interpreting services (VIS), accessible 
electronic and information technology, or other effective methods of 
making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are 
deaf or hard of hearing;
    (2) Qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, brailled 
materials and displays, screen reader software, magnification software, 
optical readers, secondary auditory programs (SAP), large print 
materials, accessible electronic and information technology, or other 
effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to 
individuals who are blind or have low vision; * * *
    (c) Effective communication. (1) A public accommodation shall 
furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to 
ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities and 
their companions who are individuals with disabilities.
    (i) For purposes of this section, companion means a family member, 
friend, or associate of a program participant who, along with the 
participant, is an appropriate person with whom the public 
accommodation should communicate.
    (ii) The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure 
effective communication will vary in accordance with the method of 
communication used by the individual, the nature, length, and 
complexity of the

[[Page 34555]]

communication involved, and the context in which the communication is 
taking place. A public accommodation should consult with individuals 
with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary 
aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate 
decision as to what measures to take rests with the public 
accommodation, provided that the method chosen results in effective 
communication.
    (2) A public accommodation shall not require an individual with a 
disability to bring another individual to interpret for him or her.
    (3) A public accommodation shall not rely on an individual 
accompanying an individual with a disability to interpret or facilitate 
communication, except in an emergency involving a threat to public 
safety or welfare, or unless the individual with a disability 
specifically requests it, the accompanying individual agrees to provide 
the assistance, and reliance on that individual for this assistance is 
appropriate under the circumstances.
    (d) Telecommunications--(1) Telephones. (i) When a public 
accommodation uses an automated attendant system for receiving and 
directing incoming telephone calls, that automated attendant system 
must provide effective communication with individuals using TTYs or a 
telecommunications relay system.
    (ii) A public accommodation that offers a customer, client, 
patient, or participant the opportunity to make outgoing telephone 
calls on more than an incidental convenience basis shall make 
available, upon request, public telephones equipped with volume control 
mechanisms, hearing aid compatible telephones, or text telephones 
(TTYs) for the use of an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, or 
has a speech impairment.
    (iii) This part does not require a public accommodation to use 
public telephones equipped with volume control mechanisms, hearing aid 
compatible telephones, or TTYs for receiving or making telephone calls 
incident to its operations.
    (iv) A public accommodation shall respond to telephone calls from a 
telecommunications relay service established under title IV of the 
Americans with Disabilities Act in the same manner that it responds to 
other telephone calls.
    (2) Text telephones (TTYs). (i) A public accommodation that offers 
a customer, client, patient, or participant the opportunity to make 
outgoing telephone calls on more than an incidental convenience basis 
shall make available, upon request, a TTY for the use of an individual 
who is deaf or hard of hearing, or has a speech impairment.
    (ii) This part does not require a public accommodation to use a TTY 
for receiving or making telephone calls incident to its operations.
* * * * *
    (f) Video interpreting services (VIS). A public accommodation that 
chooses to provide qualified interpreters via VIS shall ensure that it 
provides--
    (1) High quality, clear, real-time, full-motion video and audio 
over a dedicated high-speed internet connection;
    (2) A clear, sufficiently large, and sharply delineated picture of 
the interpreter's head and the participating individual's head, arms, 
hands, and fingers, regardless of his body position;
    (3) Clear transmission of voices; and
    (4) Training to nontechnicians so that they may quickly and 
efficiently set up and operate the VIS.
    (g) Sports stadiums. One year after the effective date of this 
regulation, sports stadiums that have a seating capacity of 25,000 or 
more shall provide captioning on the scoreboards and video monitors for 
safety and emergency information.
* * * * *
    8. Amend Sec.  36.304 as follows:
    a. Redesignate paragraph (d)(2) as (d)(6) and in the first sentence 
remove the reference ``(d)(1)'' and add ``(d)(1) through (5)'' in its 
place;
    b. Add paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(5);


Sec.  36.304  Removal of barriers.

* * * * *
    (d)(2) Safe harbor. Elements in existing facilities that are not 
altered after [insert effective date of final rule], and that comply 
with the 1991 Standards, are not required to be modified in order to 
comply with the requirements set forth in the proposed standards.
    (3) Reduced scoping for public accommodations. For measures taken 
to comply with the barrier removal requirements of this section, 
existing facilities shall comply with the applicable requirements for 
alterations in Sec.  36.402 and Sec. Sec.  36.404 through 36.406 of 
this part for the element being altered, except as follows:
    (i) In addition to the provisions of section 240.2.1 of the 
proposed standards, where an existing play area provides elevated play 
components, an additional number of ground level play components may be 
substituted for the number of elevated play components that would have 
been required to comply with the provisions of section 240.2.2 of the 
proposed standards; and
    (ii) Where an existing swimming pool has at least 300 linear feet 
of swimming pool wall, it shall comply with the applicable requirements 
for swimming pools, except that it shall be required to provide only 
one accessible means of entry that complies with section 1009.2 or 
section 1009.3 of the proposed standards.
    (4) Exemption for small facilities. For measures taken to comply 
with the barrier removal requirements of this section, existing 
facilities shall comply with the applicable requirements for 
alterations in Sec.  36.402 and Sec. Sec.  36.404 through 36.406 of 
this part, except as follows:
    (i) Where an existing play area has less than 1000 square feet or 
is located in a family child care facility where the proprietor 
actually resides, it shall be exempt from the provisions of section 240 
of the proposed standards;
    (ii) Where an existing swimming pool has less than 300 linear feet 
of swimming pool wall, it shall be exempt from the provisions of 
section 242.2 of the proposed standards; and
    (iii) Where an existing sauna or steam room was designed and 
constructed to seat only two people, it shall be exempt from the 
provisions of section 241 of the proposed standards.
    (5) Qualified small business. A qualified small business has met 
its obligation to remove architectural barriers where readily 
achievable for a given year if, during that tax year, the entity has 
spent an amount equal to at least one percent (1%) of its gross revenue 
in the preceding tax year on measures undertaken in compliance with the 
barrier removal requirements of this section.
* * * * *
    9. Amend Sec.  36.308 as follows:
    a. Revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (a)(1)(ii) introductory text, (A), 
and (B), and (b);
    b. Add paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.308  Seating in assembly areas.

    (a)(1) * * *
    (i) Provide a reasonable number of wheelchair seating spaces, 
companion seats, and designated aisle seats; and
    (ii) Locate the wheelchair seating spaces and companion seats so 
that they:
    (A) Are an integral part of the seating area and are dispersed to 
all accessible seating levels; and
    (B) Provide viewing angles to the screen, performance area, or 
other focal point that are equivalent to or better than the average 
viewing angles provided to all other spectators;
* * * * *

[[Page 34556]]

    (iii) Companion seats shall be equivalent in size, quality, 
comfort, and amenities to the other seats in the assembly areas. 
Companion seats may be fixed or movable. * * *
    (b) New construction and alterations. The provision and location of 
wheelchair seating spaces and companion seats and designated aisle 
seats in newly constructed or altered assembly areas shall be governed 
by the standards for new construction and alterations in subpart D of 
this part.
    (c) Modifications of policy--(1) Seating areas. When designating 
seating sections of assembly areas providing spectators with, or 
entitling them to, distinct services or amenities that are not 
generally available to other spectators, a public accommodation in 
assembly areas shall ensure that wheelchair seating spaces and 
companion seating are provided in each such specialty seating area. The 
number of wheelchair seating spaces and companion seating provided in 
specialty seating areas shall be included in, rather than in addition 
to, wheelchair space requirements set forth in Table 221.2.1.1 in the 
proposed standards.
    (2) Group ticket purchases. To the extent possible, a public 
accommodation in assembly areas shall permit wheelchair users to 
purchase companion tickets on the same terms that tickets are made 
available to other members of the public. In assembly areas with 
seating capacities exceeding 5,000, designate at least three companion 
seats for each of five wheelchair seating spaces in order to provide 
more flexible seating arrangements for families and other small groups. 
The group companion seats required by this subsection may be located 
adjacent to either the wheelchair location or other companion seats.
    10. Amend Sec.  36.309 by adding paragraph (b)(1)(iv) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  36.309  Examinations and courses.

* * * * *
    (b)(1) * * *
    (iv) any request for documentation if such documentation is 
required is reasonable and limited to the need for the modification or 
aid requested. * * *
* * * * *
    11. Amend 28 CFR part 36 by adding Sec.  36.311 to read as follows:


Sec.  36.311  Mobility devices.

    (a) Use of wheelchairs and manually powered mobility aids. A public 
accommodation shall permit individuals with mobility impairments to use 
wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, canes, braces, or similar 
devices in any areas open to pedestrian use.
    (b) Other power-driven mobility devices. A public accommodation 
shall make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and 
procedures to permit the use of other power-driven mobility devices by 
individuals with disabilities, unless the public accommodation can 
demonstrate that the use of the device is not reasonable or that its 
use will result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the public 
accommodation's goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or 
accommodations.
    (c) Development of policies permitting the use of other power-
driven mobility devices. A public accommodation shall establish 
policies to permit the use of other power-driven mobility devices by 
individuals with disabilities when it is reasonable to afford a public 
accommodation's goods, services, facilities, or accommodations to an 
individual with a disability. Whether a modification is reasonable to 
allow the use of a class of power-driven mobility device by an 
individual with a disability in specific venues (e.g., doctors' 
offices, parks, commercial buildings, etc.) shall be determined based 
on:
    (1) The dimensions, weight, and operating speed of the mobility 
device in relation to a wheelchair;
    (2) The potential risk of harm to others by the operation of the 
mobility device;
    (3) The risk of harm to the environment or natural or cultural 
resources or conflict with Federal land management laws and 
regulations; and
    (4) The ability of the public accommodation to stow the mobility 
device when not in use, if requested by the user.
    (d) Inquiry into use of mobility device. A public accommodation may 
ask a person using a power-driven mobility device if the mobility 
device is required because of the person's disability. A public 
accommodation shall not ask a person using a mobility device questions 
about the nature and extent of the person's disability.

Subpart D--New Construction and Alterations

    12. Amend Sec.  36.403 by adding paragraph (a)(1) and revising 
(f)(2)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.403  Alterations: Path of travel.

    (a) * * *
    (1) If a private entity has constructed or altered required 
elements of a path of travel at a place of public accommodation or 
commercial facility in accordance with the specifications in the 1991 
Standards, the private entity is not required to retrofit such elements 
to reflect incremental changes in the proposed standards solely because 
of an alteration to a primary function area served by that path of 
travel.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (iii) Costs associated with providing accessible telephones, such 
as relocating the telephone to an accessible height, installing 
amplification devices, or installing a text telephone (TTY); * * *
* * * * *
    13. Amend Sec.  36.406 as follows:
    a. Add the heading ``Applicable standards'' to paragraph (a);
    b. Redesignate paragraph (a) as paragraph (a)(1);
    c. Revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (b);
    d. Add paragraphs (a)(2), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g);
    e. Remove Appendix to Sec.  36.406 to read as follows:


Sec.  36.406  Standards for new construction and alterations.

    (a) Applicable standards. (1) New construction and alterations 
subject to this part shall comply with the 1991 Standards if physical 
construction of the property commences before [date six months after 
the effective date of the final rule.]
    (2) New construction and alterations subject to this part shall 
comply with the proposed standards if physical construction of the 
property commences on or after [date six months after the effective 
date of the final rule.]
    (b) The proposed standards apply to fixed or built-in elements of 
buildings, structures, site improvements, and pedestrian routes or 
vehicular ways located on a site. Unless specifically stated otherwise, 
advisory notes, appendix notes, and figures contained in the proposed 
standards explain or illustrate the requirements of the rule; they do 
not establish enforceable requirements.
    (c) Places of lodging. Places of lodging, including inns, hotels, 
motels, time-shares, condominium hotels, mixed-use, and corporate hotel 
facilities subject to the proposed standards shall comply with the 
provisions of the proposed standards that apply to transient lodging, 
including, but not limited to the requirements for transient lodging 
guest rooms in sections 224 and 806.
    (d) Social service establishments. Group homes, halfway houses, 
shelters, or similar social service establishments that provide 
temporary sleeping accommodations or residential dwelling units subject 
to the proposed standards

[[Page 34557]]

shall comply with the provisions of the proposed standards that apply 
to residential facilities, including, but not limited to, the 
provisions in sections 233 and 809.
    (1) In sleeping rooms with more than twenty-five beds covered by 
this section, a minimum of five percent (5%) of the beds shall have 
clear floor space complying with section 806.2.3.
    (e) Housing at a place of education. Dormitories or residence halls 
operated by or on behalf of places of education that are subject to the 
proposed standards shall comply with the provisions applicable to 
transient lodging, including, but not limited to, the requirements for 
transient lodging guest rooms in sections 224 and 806.
    (f) Assembly areas. Assembly areas subject to the proposed 
standards shall comply with the provisions applicable to assembly 
areas, including, but not limited to, sections 221 and 804. In 
addition, assembly areas shall ensure that:
    (1) Wheelchair and companion seating locations are dispersed to all 
levels of the facility that are served by an accessible route;
    (2) Wheelchair and companion seating locations are not located on 
(or obstructed by) temporary platforms or other movable structures. 
When wheelchair seating locations are not required to accommodate 
people who use wheelchairs, individual, removable seats may be placed 
in those spaces;
    (3) Facilities that have more than 5,000 seats shall provide at 
least five wheelchair spaces and at least three companion seats for 
each wheelchair space; and
    (4) Stadium-style movie theaters shall locate wheelchair seating 
spaces and companion seating on a riser or cross-aisle in the stadium 
section that satisfies at least one of the following criteria:
    (i) It is located within the rear sixty percent (60%) of the seats 
provided in an auditorium; or
    (ii) It is located within the area of an auditorium in which the 
vertical viewing angles (as measured to the top of the screen) are from 
the 40th to the 100th percentile of vertical viewing angles for all 
seats as ranked from the seats in the first row (1st percentile) to 
seats in the back row (100th percentile).
    (g) Medical care facilities. Medical care facilities subject to the 
proposed standards shall comply with the provisions applicable to 
medical care facilities, including, but not limited to, sections 223 
and 805. In addition, medical care facilities that do not specialize in 
the treatment of conditions that affect mobility shall disperse the 
accessible patient bedrooms required by section 223.2.1 in a manner 
that enables patients with disabilities to have access to appropriate 
specialty services.


Sec.  36.407  [Removed]

    14. Remove Sec.  36.407.

Subpart F--Certification of State Laws or Local Building Codes


Sec.  36.603  [Removed]

    15. Remove Sec.  36.603.


Sec.  36.604  [Redesignated as Sec.  36.603]

    16. Redesignate Sec.  36.604 as Sec.  36.603 and revise it to read 
as follows:


Sec.  36.603  Preliminary determination.

    Upon receipt and review of all information relevant to a request 
filed by a submitting official for certification of a code, and after 
consultation with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers 
Compliance Board, the Assistant Attorney General shall make a 
preliminary determination of equivalency or a preliminary determination 
to deny certification.


Sec.  36.605  [Redesignated as Sec.  36.604]

    17. Redesignate Sec.  36.605 as Sec.  36.604 and revise paragraphs 
(a), (a)(2), and (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.604  Procedure following preliminary determination of 
equivalency.

    (a) If the Assistant Attorney General makes a preliminary 
determination of equivalency under Sec.  36.603, he or she shall inform 
the submitting official, in writing, of that preliminary determination. 
The Assistant Attorney General also shall:

* * *
    (2) After considering the information received in response to the 
notice described in paragraph (a) of this section, and after publishing 
a separate notice in the Federal Register, hold an informal hearing, in 
the State or local jurisdiction charged with administration and 
enforcement of the code, at which interested individuals, including 
individuals with disabilities, are provided an opportunity to express 
their views with respect to the preliminary determination of 
equivalency; and
    (b) The Assistant Attorney General--after consultation with the 
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board and 
consideration of the materials and information submitted pursuant to 
this section, as well as information previously provided by the 
submitting official--shall issue either a certification of equivalency 
or a final determination to deny the request for certification. The 
Assistant Attorney General shall publish notice of the certification of 
equivalency or denial of certification in the Federal Register.


Sec.  36.606  [Redesignated as Sec.  36.605]

    18. Redesignate Sec.  36.606 as Sec.  36.605 and revise the first 
sentence of paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.605  Procedure following preliminary denial of certification.

    (a) If the Assistant Attorney General makes a preliminary 
determination to deny certification of a code under Sec.  36.603, he or 
she shall notify the submitting official of the determination. * * *
* * * * *


Sec.  36.607  [Redesignated as Sec.  36.606]

    19. Redesignate Sec.  36.607 as Sec.  36.606 and add a new 
paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  36.606  Effect of certification.

* * * * *
    (d) When the standards of the Act against which a code is deemed 
equivalent are substantially revised or amended, a certification of 
equivalency issued under the preexisting standards is no longer 
effective, as of the date the revised standards take effect. However, 
construction in compliance with a certified code during the period when 
a certification of equivalency was effective shall be considered 
rebuttable evidence of compliance with the Standards then in effect as 
to those elements of buildings and facilities that comply with the 
certified code. A submitting official may reapply for certification 
pursuant to the Act's revised standards, and, to the extent possible, 
priority will be afforded the request in the review process.


Sec.  36.608  [Redesignated as Sec.  36.607]

    20. Redesignate Sec.  36.608 as Sec.  36.607.

    Dated: May 30, 2008.
Michael B. Mukasey,
Attorney General.
[FR Doc. E8-12623 Filed 6-16-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4410-13-P