March 2, 2012
AUGUSTA - Over 150 people attended a day-long workshop this week providing information and guidance on how to comply with new design and construction standards under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“We know that there is a lot of concern in the business community about the extent of these new federal regulations,” said Eric Dibner, State ADA Coordinator at the Maine Department of Labor. “Although the changes to the standards were imposed by the Federal Government, we felt it was important for the state to take an active role in helping businesses and other government agencies navigate the new regulations.”
The session focused on new and revised elements of ADA rules that apply to a wide range of business and governmental organizations starting March 15, 2012. Changes to the law include new specifications for employee areas, entrances, single user toilet restrooms, recreation areas and more. The new building and design standards are the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and cover both new construction as well as renovation projects. Maine has adopted the same standards under the Maine Human Rights Act, which allows builders and designers to meet both the Federal and State regulations by following a single standard.
The event booked-up well in advance and feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive.
“In the health care sector, we have to be especially focused on ensuring proper accommodations for the public we serve,” said Milt Dudley, director of engineering for Inland Hospital in Waterville. “The presentations today were very helpful and I left with a better understanding of the new regulations.”
Sponsors and presenters included Maine Department of Labor, Maine State Fire Marshall, Alpha One, Maine Human Rights Commission, AIA Maine, and the New England ADA Center.
Small businesses with questions about the ADA reforms are encouraged to utilize training tools developed by the US Department of Justice that issued the new and updated accessibility requirements. Information is available on the ADA website at: www.ada.gov or through the New England ADA Center at 1-800-949-4232. -end-
John Gause, Commission Counsel with the Maine Human Rights Commission discusses Maine Human Rights Act