OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5050

AN ACT MODERNIZING THE SYMBOL OF ACCESS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) commissioner, by January 1, 2017, to promulgate a policy and adopt regulations designating a new symbol of access for people with disabilities. The symbol, which replaces the international access symbol, must (1) depict a logo with a dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement, be readily identifiable, and be simply designed with no secondary meaning and (2) provide for the equivalent facilitation and accessibility as the international access symbol (see BACKGROUND).

Beginning January 1, 2017, the bill requires that any references in the State Building Code to the international symbol of accessibility be deemed to mean the new symbol established under the bill. It requires use of the new symbol in all buildings and structures constructed, substantially renovated, or expanded on or after that date.

The bill similarly replaces the international symbol of access with the new symbol for (1) special license plates and temporary windshield placards for individuals with disabilities or who are blind, or the parent or guardian of such individuals, and (2) parking space signs for such individuals that are replaced, repaired, or erected on and after January 1, 2017. In addition, the bill replaces “handicapped” with “reserved” on the parking signs, which currently read “handicapped parking permit required,” and “violators will be fined.”

The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except that the provisions concerning license plates, placards, and parking space signs are effective January 1, 2017.

BACKGROUND

International Symbol of Accessibility

The 2010 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design, published by the U.S. Department of Justice and applicable to public and private entities, require the use of the international symbol of accessibility in several different contexts (e.g., entrances, elevators, restrooms, and parking space identification signs). They allow covered entities to use designs, products, or technologies that are different from those specified in the standards as long as the alternatives result in “substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability” (i.e., the equivalent facilitation exception). If an alternative is challenged, the covered entity is responsible for demonstrating equivalent facilitation (Standard 103).

In May 2015, the Federal Highway Administration ruled that certain alternatives to the international symbol of accessibility, including those with a dynamic character, were not permissible for use in traffic control device applications (Official Ruling No. 2(09) – 111 (I)- International Symbol of Accessibility).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

9

Nay

6

(03/11/2016)