For the first time in more than 20 years, regulations governing the Americans with Disabilities Act are getting a major overhaul.
Starting Tuesday, new rules go into effect covering everything from building design to what qualifies as a service animal.
Notably, the new ADA regulations will include first-ever accessibility requirements for swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs and other recreational facilities.
What’s more, going forward, only trained dogs will be eligible for use as service animals.
While service dogs can provide a wide range of assistance for people with mental or physical disabilities, they must help with issues directly related to the person’s disability and offer more than “emotional support” under the new rules.
The revised regulations also set standards for the use of wheelchairs versus other mobility devices like Segways and provide guidance on selling tickets for accessible seating at entertainment venues and reserving hotel rooms.
“The new rules usher in a new day for the more than 50 million individuals with disabilities in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights. “The rules will expand accessibility in a number of areas.”
While the regulations take effect Tuesday, businesses get some leeway. Only buildings constructed or altered after March 15, 2012 will have to comply with the new accessibility requirements.