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Italicized text was added to the original Title II Technical Assistance Manual through supplements issued in 1993 and 1994.

Regulatory references: 28 CFR 35.151.

II-6.2000 Choice of design standard: UFAS or ADAAG

II-6.2100 General.

Public entities may choose from two design standards for new construction and alterations. They can choose either the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) or the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG), which is the standard that must be used for public accommodations and commercial facilities under title III of the ADA. If ADAAG is chosen, however, public entities are not entitled to the elevator exemption (which permits certain buildings under three stories or under 3,000 square feet per floor to be constructed without an elevator).

Many public entities that are recipients of Federal funds are already subject to UFAS, which is the accessibility standard referenced in most section 504 regulations.

On December 21, 1992, the Access Board published proposed title II accessibility guidelines that will generally adopt ADAAG for State and local government facilities. The proposed guidelines also set specific requirements for judicial, legislative, and regulatory facilities; detention and correctional facilities; accessible residential housing; and public rights-of-way. The proposed guidelines are subject to a 90-day comment period. It is anticipated that the Department of Justice will amend its title II rule to eliminate the choice between ADAAG and UFAS and, instead, mandate that public entities follow the amended ADAAG.

Which standard is stricter, UFAS or ADAAG? The many differences between the standards are highlighted below. In some areas, UFAS may appear to be more stringent. In other areas ADAAG may appear to be more stringent. Because of the many differences, one standard is not stricter than the other.

Can a public entity follow ADAAG on one floor of a new building and then follow UFAS on the next floor? No. Each facility or project must follow one standard completely.

Can a public entity follow UFAS for one alteration project and then follow ADAAG for another alteration project in the same building? No. All alterations in the same building must be done in accordance with the same standard.

What if neither ADAAG nor UFAS contain specific standards for a particular type of facility? In such cases the technical requirements of the chosen standard should be applied to the extent possible. If no standard exists for particular features, those features need not comply with a particular design standard. However, the facility must still be designed and operated to meet other title II requirements, including program accessibility (see II-5.0000).

ILLUSTRATION 1: A public entity is designing and constructing a playground. Because there are no UFAS or ADAAG standards for playground equipment, the equipment need not comply with any specific design standard. The title II requirements for equal opportunity and program accessibility, however, may obligate the public entity to provide an accessible route to the playground, some accessible equipment, and an accessible surface for the playground.

ILLUSTRATION 2: A public entity is designing and constructing a new baseball stadium that will feature a photographers' moat running around the perimeter of the playing field. While there are no specific standards in either ADAAG or UFAS for either dugouts or photographer's moats, the chosen standard should be applied to the extent that it contains appropriate technical standards. For example, an accessible route must be provided and any ramps or changes in level must meet the chosen standard. The public entity may have additional obligations under other title II requirements.