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36 CFR Parts 1190 and 1191 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines - Preamble (Discussion of Comments and Changes)

Comment. The minimum number of wheelchair spaces is specified according to a sliding scale. A lower percentage is specified for larger facilities. The proposed rule specified 1% scoping (on top of 6 required wheelchair spaces) for assembly areas with over 500 seats. Comments from industry recommended that scoping should be lowered for larger facilities since industry surveys indicate that the vast majority of wheelchair spaces, particularly in stadiums and arenas, often go unused. A coalition representing major sports leagues, teams, and facilities throughout the U.S. conducted a two-year survey of usage of wheelchair spaces at 40 major arenas and stadiums during basketball, hockey, and baseball events. This survey found that of the 1% of seats made accessible in arenas, approximately 12% (0.12% of the total number of seats) were occupied by persons using wheelchairs; the assessed usage rate at baseball stadiums was 7% of the accessible seats (0.07% of the total number of seats). The coalition considered the 1% minimum scoping far in excess of the demonstrated need in large sports arenas. These and other industry comments urged the Board to reduce the required number to at least the amount recommended by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee. The advisory committee had recommended a 0.5% scoping requirement for assembly areas with over 500 seats based on similar information concerning usage. Industry comments considered 0.5% as more than adequate in meeting the demand for accessible seating.

Response. The Board has reduced the scoping for wheelchair spaces in assembly areas with more than 500 seats. Scoping has been reduced from 1% to a ratio of 1 wheelchair space for every 150 seats in assembly areas with 501 to 5,000 seats. This is required on top of a requirement of six wheelchair spaces, consistent with the scoping count for the first 500 seats. A further reduction to 0.5% scoping, the level recommended by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee, is specified for assembly areas with over 5,000 seats. The 0.5% scoping requirement is applied on top of a requirement for 36 spaces, which follows the scoping level for the first 5,000 seats. For example, in assembly facilities with 5,000 seats, the final rule requires that at least 36 spaces be accessible, whereas the scoping in the proposed rule would have specified 51 spaces minimum. The minimum number for facilities with 10,000 seats is 61 (reduced from 101), and for those with 50,000 seats is 261 (reduced from 501).


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