on the Certification Process
Process for Requesting and Obtaining Certification
The title III regulations (28 CFR §§ 36.601 et seq.) provide a detailed description of the process for requesting and obtaining certification. In general, the process includes the following steps:
- The jurisdiction must provide public notice of the intent to seek certification.
- Certification must be discussed at a public hearing, which is on the record.
- Copies of the certification request and supporting materials must be available for public inspection and copying.
- The submission to the Department of Justice must include the text of the jurisdiction’s accessibility code plus supporting materials. The Department recommends that jurisdictions consider submitting not only a hard copy of the accessibility code, but also an electronic copy of the code. The electronic copy should be submitted in one or more of the following formats: Word Perfect (.wpd), Microsoft Word (.doc), or Adobe Acrobat PDF(.pdf). Submission of an electronic copy of the jurisdiction’s code will facilitate the certification review process.
- The Department reviews the submitted accessibility requirements using a side-by-side comparison form. Included on the left-hand column of the form are the requirements for new construction and alterations of places of public accommodation and commercial facilities under title III of the ADA. The side-by-side comparison form can be downloaded from this site in the following formats:
blank side-by-side (Word Perfect 9 - 356k) | blank side-by-side (Microsoft Word - 508k) | blank side-by-side (PDF - 344k)
The comparison form is also available on diskette in Word Perfect or Microsoft Word versions upon request through the ADA Information Line. During the review process, comparable provisions of a jurisdiction’s code are entered in the middle column of the comparison form opposite the relevant ADA requirement. The Department comments or observations about the equivalence or nonequivalence of the submitted code are placed in the far right-hand column of the comparison form. The DOJ recommends that a jurisdiction consider using the side-by-side comparison form to review its own accessibility code prior to making a submission. Both a hard copy and electronic copy of the jurisdiction’s side-by-side comparison form could then be included as supporting material in any submission to the Department. The electronic copy of a jurisdiction’s comparison form should be provided on diskette in either Word Perfect 6/7/8/9, or Microsoft Word. The submission by a jurisdiction of an electronic copy of its side-by-side comparison form can significantly advance the review process.
- The Department may request from a jurisdiction additional information considered relevant to the review of the submission. In addition, a jurisdiction may request to amend its submission to include revised accessibility requirements prior to a final determination.
- The Department issues a preliminary determination.
- If the code is equivalent, the Department solicits public comments in writing and at public hearings.
- After reviewing the public comments, the Department issues a final determination of equivalency.
- If found not equivalent, then the submitting official has 15 days to oppose the determination.
State Accessibility Requirements That Have Already Received Certification from the Department of Justice
The Department has certified as equivalent to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design the Washington State Regulations for Barrier-Free Facilities, the Texas Accessibility Standards, the Maine Human Rights Act, as implemented by the Maine Accessibility Regulations, the Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction, the Maryland Accessibility Code and the North Carolina Accessibility Code. Currently Texas, Maine, Florida, Maryland and North Carolina have in place ADA-certified accessibility requirements.
Accessibility Requirements Presently Undergoing Certification Review
Accessibility requirements from Five States are currently pending ADA certification review, including California, Indiana, New Jersey, Utah and Washington (Washington State recently implemented a new accessibility code and requested certification for the new code).
The State of Michigan has requested technical assistance from the Department regarding the consistency of the State's accessibility requirements with the ADA.
Should a Certification Request Await the Access Board’s Revision of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines?
No. The Department of Justice is the federal agency charged with the responsibility for promulgating enforceable standards for the construction and alteration of buildings and facilities under the ADA and certification is based upon equivalency with those standards. Consequently, the revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines promulgated by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the Access Board), even when final, will not be enforceable unless adopted by the Department as its standard for the implementation of the ADA. Jurisdictions that pursue certification now and have in place a certified accessibility code at the time when the Department considers revisions to the ADA accessibility requirements will have the advantage of a benchmark that is compliant with the existing ADA Standards.
For more information about certification of State and local accessibility codes, please write to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Disability Rights Section - NYAV, Washington, DC 20530 or you may fax your questions to us at 202-307-1198. Finally, if you would like to obtain a copy of the ADA side-by-side comparison form on diskette, you may call the ADA Information Line.
ADA Certification Page
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