The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)



A Brief Overview

What is the ADA? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law passed by the US Congress that was implemented in 1992. The intent is to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, businesses that are public accommodations or commercial facilities, and in transportation. The law is divided into sections called titles.

Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination in employment. Businesses having 15 or more employees and State and local governments are prohibited from discriminating against persons with disabilities in their employment practices.

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination in virtually all State and local government services, programs, and activities. These include public education, police and fire departments, and other State and local governments programs. The law mandates that equal access for individuals with disabilities is provided, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration would result.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation and commercial facilities. This includes over 6 million privately owned business establishments of all sizes such as hotels, doctor’s offices, retail stores, country clubs, private schools, health clubs, YMCAs, day care centers and essentially any location that is used by the general public.

Title IV of the ADA mandates that telephone companies offer TTY/telephone relay services to enable individuals who use TTY's.

For information on how to contact Federal agencies with ADA responsibilities, see ADA Information Services.

Cybex Total Access fitness equipment qualifies for tax credits in the USA under the Americans with Disability Act.
What's New in 2010

Revisions to ADA regulations were signed in July of 2010 and will be published in the Federal Register. The revised regulations will amend Title II and Title III regulation and will take effect 6 months after the date on which they are published in the Federal Register. To see a complete copy of these regulations, see Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III (Updated July 29, 2010).

Information on Exercise Machines – along with an analysis of public comments submitted in the formulation of the Regulations – is available at Appendix B: Analysis of the 2010 ADA Standards. It is copied below.

Of note in the Department’s Analysis is the final sentence which reads “Providing access to exercise machines and equipment recognizes the need and desires of individuals with disabilities to have the same opportunity as other patrons to enjoy the advantages of exercise and maintaining health.”



236 and 1004 Exercise Machines and Equipment

Accessible Route to Exercise Machines and Equipment. Section 206.2.13 of the 2010 Standards requires an accessible route to serve accessible exercise machines and equipment.

Commenters raised concerns that the requirement to provide accessible routes to serve accessible exercise machines and equipment will be difficult for some facilities to provide, especially some transient lodging facilities that typically locate exercise machines and equipment in a single room. The Department believes that this requirement is a reasonable one in new construction and alterations because accessible exercise machines and equipment can be located so that an accessible route can serve more than one piece of equipment.

Exercise Machines and Equipment. Section 236 of the 2010 Standards requires at least one of each type of exercise machine to meet clear floor space requirements of section 1004.1. Types of machines are generally defined according to the muscular groups exercised or the kind of cardiovascular exercise provided.

Several commenters were concerned that existing facilities would have to reduce the number of available exercise equipment and machines in order to comply with the 2010 Standards. One commenter submitted prototype drawings showing equipment and machine layouts with and without the required clearance specified in the 2010 Standards. The accessible alternatives all resulted in a loss of equipment and machines. However, because these prototype layouts included certain possibly erroneous assumptions about the 2010 Standards, the Department wishes to clarify the requirements.

Section 1004.1 of the 2010 Standards requires a clear floor space "positioned for transfer or for use by an individual seated in a wheelchair" to serve at least one of each type of exercise machine and equipment. This requirement provides the designer greater flexibility regarding the location of the clear floor space than was employed by the commenter who submitted prototype layouts. The 2010 Standards do not require changes to exercise machines or equipment in order to make them more accessible to persons with disabilities. Even where machines or equipment do not have seats and typically are used by individuals in a standing position, at least one of each type of machine or equipment must have a clear floor space. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that persons with disabilities wishing to use this type of machine or equipment can stand or walk, even if they use wheelchairs much of the time. As indicated in Advisory 1004.1, "the position of the clear floor space may vary greatly depending on the use of the equipment or machine." Where exercise equipment or machines require users to stand on them, the clear floor space need not be located parallel to the length of the machine or equipment in order to provide a lateral seat-to-platform transfer. It is permissible to locate the clear floor space for such machines or equipment in the aisle behind the device and to overlap the clear floor space and the accessible route.

Commenters were divided in response to the requirement for accessible exercise machines and equipment. Some supported requirements for accessible machines and equipment; others urged the Department not to require accessible machines and equipment because of the costs involved. The Department believes that the requirement strikes an appropriate balance in ensuring that persons with disabilities, particularly those who use wheelchairs, will have the opportunity to use the exercise equipment. Providing access to exercise machines and equipment recognizes the need and desires of individuals with disabilities to have the same opportunity as other patrons to enjoy the advantages of exercise and maintaining health.