Public entities (state and local governments) are subject to Title II and must comply with specific minimum requirements when they build new facilities or alter existing ones. Public entities may only follow the new ADA standards (2010 Standards). The 2010 Standards became mandatory on March 15, 2012; public entities no longer have other options.
When state and local governments offer programs or services in existing buildings, the programs must be assessed to determine if there are structural barriers that interfere with participation for individuals with disabilities. Where such barriers exist, the public entity must take steps to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access services and participate in programs.
Public entities can use a variety of methods to facilitate participation. They may choose to make structural improvements to existing facilities or even build new facilities, but they may also consider relocating events to alternate facilities, providing equipment or staff assistance, home delivery, or other options.
Whatever methods are used should enable people with disabilities to participate in the most integrated fashion possible. For example, if an individual who uses a wheelchair registers for a class that is scheduled to be held on the second floor of an old building without an elevator, it would be better, if possible, to relocate the entire class to a nearby accessible location, rather than sending an instructor to the individual’s home to teach her alone, while the rest of the class meets as a group in the inaccessible location.
Although structural improvements to existing buildings are not necessarily required, they are often the most efficient way to achieve integrated and meaningful participation for people with disabilities. While some programs or services will lend themselves more easily to “off-site” alternatives (e.g., obtaining or filing tax forms), other programs will be difficult or impossible to provide effectively outside the typical structural locations (e.g., a swimming class).
Additionally, methods that allow people with disabilities to participate the same way others do, without the need for things like rescheduling, obtaining equipment, or arranging for staff assistance, will be less burdensome on staff as well as on people with disabilities, and therefore may be more cost-effective in the long run as well.
For more information for public entities, visit our "State and Local Governments" page.