2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design are the physical access standards that are enforced under the ADA. These standards were created by the US Access Board and adopted as enforceable by the US Department of Justice. They replace the original physical access standard under the ADA, called the 1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design provide new scoping and technical requirements about making a physical space accessible.

[ Read: About the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design ]

ADA Amendments Act

The ADA Amendments Act, passed in 2008, amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address concerns that had developed since the ADA became law in 1990. Congress had intended the ADA to be interpreted broadly, and with the ADAAA, it reaffirmed that intention. After the ADAAA took effect, the federal agencies that enforce the law issued new regulations, standards, and guidance that updated how the ADA is carried out.

[ Read: ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) ]

Access aisle

An access aisle is the striped area next to an accessible parking space. An access aisle provides space for an individual with a disability to transfer between a vehicle in the accessible space and a mobility device, like a wheelchair or scooter. It is important to keep an access aisle clear so it can be used for its intended purpose. To comply with the law, an access aisle for a car parking space must be at least 5 feet wide. For a van, however, the access aisle must be at least 8 feet wide—though if a van-accessible parking space is at least 11 feet wide, the access aisle need be only 5 feet wide. The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design contain the scoping and technical requirements for access aisles.

[ Read: The ADA and Parking ]


If something is accessible, that thing is usable by a person with a disability. Accessible can apply to an environment, product or service, program, or activity. It can also apply to a wide range of communications, including elevator buttons, fire alarms, documents, lectures, and movies.

Affirmative action

In the context of disability law, affirmative action is preferential hiring for people with disabilities. It is not a term from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but instead from two sections of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 501 covers federal employers, and Section 503 applies to federal contractors that have contracts of $10,000 or more with the federal government. Neither section requires a specific number of people with disabilities to be hired, but both have affirmative action goals for federal employers and federal contractors to work toward.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is landmark civil rights legislation that was passed in 1990. The goal of the ADA is to shape American society to include people with disabilities in several key areas, such as employment, state and local government programs and activities, and businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public. The ADA has five titles:

  • Title I covers employment.
  • Title II addresses the programs, services, and activities of state and local government (public entities).
  • Title III applies to businesses and nonprofits that are open to the public (public accommodations).
  • Title IV established the relay system for telephone access for people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
  • Title V has requirements that apply to both the ADA as a whole and how the ADA impacts other laws.

In 2008, Congress strengthened and clarified the ADA with the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA).

[ Read: ADA Overview ]

Architectural Barriers Act

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) was passed in 1968. The ABA was the first federal law to require that federal facilities be accessible to people with disabilities. Examples of federal facilities are post offices, social security offices, federal courthouses, and national parks. Because the ABA was already in place in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, the ADA doesn’t cover federal facilities.

[ Read: Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) ]

Architectural barrier

An architectural barrier is something physical that prevents a building or site from being accessible to all people. An architectural barrier could prevent a person with a disability from getting in the door—an example of this would be steps at an entrance. It could also prevent a person with a disability from using certain features of the building or site. Examples of features are service counters, bathrooms, and drinking fountains. 

[ Read: Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) ]

[ Read: Buildings and Facilities Overview ]

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is equipment, devices, software, or tools that help a person with a disability do a task or activity that otherwise might be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can be simple or complex. Examples include reaching tools, talking calculators, mobility devices like power wheelchairs, and software that speaks the text on a smartphone screen. 

Assistive technology is sometimes referred to by its abbreviation, AT.


Association is a part of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is meant to protect a person from being discriminated against because they have a relationship with a person who has a disability. (This protection applies to all people, regardless of whether they themselves have a disability.)

Association applies across the different areas of the ADA, including Title I (employment) and Title II (accessing the programs, services, and activities of state and local government). And for Title III, association can apply to accessing the goods and services of businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public. For example, if an employer refuses to hire a person because the job applicant has a child with a disability, then the employer is violating the association provision of the ADA.

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