The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Newest Editions

Independent Living

The federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act to guarantee that individuals with disabilities are not discriminated against and have the same opportunities as individuals without disabilities. To continue to make the environment more accessible, the ADA periodically adds and adjusts its guidelines. Recently, the Department of Justice announced they were considering adding four additional guidelines to the Unified Agenda. The Unified Agenda is a document that lists all the federal rules and policies that all governmental agencies must follow. Summary highlights of the recent updates are below.

Medical Diagnostic Equipment

The Medical Diagnostic Equipment rule was first introduced to the ADA in Spring 2022, specifically to address medical diagnostic equipment that is not accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

Medical diagnostic equipment includes: 

  • Exam tables (which can lower to a minimum of 15 inches) 
  • Scales 
  • Dental chairs 
  • Radiological & mammography equipment 

The rule is currently being proposed. If implemented, it will allow individuals with disabilities to have better access to proper and thorough medical care. 

Web Accessibility

The Web Accessibility rule addresses the inaccessibility of government websites. According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, many websites created by local city and state governments do not have features that allow individuals to navigate the website. The Web Accessibility rule, in the proposal stage, will ensure that websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

According to the ADA, the features that make a website inaccessible include:  

  • Poor color contrast 
  • Us of color alone to give information
  • Lack of text alternatives on images
  • No captions on videos
  • Inaccessible online forms
  • Mouse-only navigation (lack of keyboard navigation)

Public Right-of-Way

The Public Right-of-Way rule has been introduced with the purpose of making sure that pedestrian areas within the United States are accessible to individuals with a disability. The law also states it will create minimum accessibility guidelines outlining what facilities must do to follow the ADA. The regulations surrounding this law are still pending. 

Pedestrian areas refer to: 

  • Sidewalks
  • Buildings
  • Facilities
  • Rail passenger cars vehicles

Equipment and Furniture

The ADA has introduced the Equipment and Furniture rule to address the inaccessibility individuals with disabilities face when using non-fixed furniture in public. 

Currently, the ADA requires all services and activities provided by state and local governments, as well as public entities that have fix-furniture to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, but there have been no guidelines for non-fixed furniture.* 

According to the ADA, non-fixed furniture includes any fixtures that can be moved around, such as: 

  • Tables in restaurants and other public places
  • Furniture in hotel rooms 
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Condiment and drinking station items (cup lids, ketchup packets, napkins, etc.) 
  • Any other moveable furniture in public spaces. 

 * The ADA has specified that fixtures that are bolted down and cannot be moved be classified as fixed furniture. Non-fixed furniture includes any fixtures that can be moved around, such as furniture within the hotel room and fire extinguishers.