Colorado Springs, CO, March 13, 2011 --(PR.com
)-- Twenty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, significant changes are being made to build an accessible future for the more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. Starting March 15, 2011, one of those changes is the rule governing service animals. The DBTAC Rocky Mountain ADA Center provides information on the ADA to individuals and organizations in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming and will provide training opportunities and make products available to help educate people on the revised regulations.
“Service animals play a vital role in the lives of thousands of people with disabilities,” said Jana Burke, the director of the DBTAC Rocky Mountain ADA Center. “The new rules will affect many people using various animals that previously qualified as service animals, making it extremely important for these individuals and public accommodations to understand the revised regulations.”
When the ADA was enacted, its service animal provisions went into effect requiring that public accommodations (such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals, stores, factories and warehouses) and public entities allow service animals accompanying persons with disabilities to be admitted to establishments with policies otherwise excluding pets or other animals. Over time, a unique variety of species became recognized as service animals by their owners including ferrets, parrots, monkeys, full-size horses, snake and lizards. Dogs and other animals that only provide emotional comfort to their owners have also been characterized as service animals.
On March 15, new federal guidelines will tighten the definition of service animals to just dogs and in some cases miniature horses. The Department of Justice (DOJ) now states that the dog must be “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Animals that simply provide “emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship” are not considered service animals under the new regulations.
Example of work or tasks as defined in the new regulations include:
● Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
● Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
● Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
● Pulling a wheelchair.
● Assisting an individual during a seizure.
● Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
● Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
● Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities.
● Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center will address the new regulations in much more detail in its webinar on Wed., March 30, 2011. Among other items, the webinar will provide an in-depth look at the new definitions and what covered entities can do to provide access. This presentation is ideal for any business, state or local government entity, service animal handler, or service animal trainer. The webinar is open to the public and costs $25 per line. For more information or to register, please visit www.adainformation.org or call (800) 949-4232.
Additional information on the new service animal regulations is available from the Rocky Mountain ADA Center at www.adainformation.org/ServiceAnimals.aspx. Among the useful information on service animals found on this site is the new “Service Animals Welcome” pocket guide with detailed information on the new rules and information on service animal training sessions. The pocket guide is available for purchase on the site, the cost is $3 apiece.
About the DBTAC Rocky Mountain ADA Center
The DBTAC Rocky Mountain ADA Center is operated by Meeting the Challenge, Inc. and provides information, training and informal guidance to individuals and organizations with rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Center is one of 10 regional centers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, and serves a six-state region including Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.adainformation.org.