Key Regulations, Standards, and Guidance

This section of the ADA Toolkit introduces the various federal regulations, standards, and guidance on compliance with the ADA that are relevant to subrecipients of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas program (rural public transit agencies).  These key requirements and guidance, referenced throughout the toolkit in specific contexts, are compiled here for convenient reference.  This section is organized in the following subsections:



Federal regulations are detailed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  The regulations established by the U.S. Department Transportation (U.S. DOT) are found in Title 49 of the CFR.  ADA-related regulations from other federal departments that rural public transit managers should to be aware of are also provided in the following table. 

Title/Part of CFR Name What it covers
49 CFR Part 27

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance

U.S. DOT requirements under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794, “Section 504”)

See also 49 CFR Part 37, Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities (ADA)
49 CFR Part 37

Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities (ADA)

U.S. DOT requirements under the ADA for transportation – including general nondiscrimination, service requirements, when facilities must be made accessible, standards for accessible buildings and facilities, and when vehicles that comply with 49 CFR Part 38 must be acquired
49 CFR Part 38

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles

U.S. DOT requirements under the ADA for vehicle specifications – vehicles acquired must meet these standards as required under 49 CFR Part 37
49 CFR Part 39

Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities: Passenger Vessels

U.S. DOT requirements under the ADA for waterborne passenger transportation service (including ferries and water taxis)

Note that this regulation may not be relevant for most rural transit agencies, and these requirements are not addressed in this toolkit.  However, a rural transit agency that operates or funds ferry service must comply with this regulation.
28 CFR Part 35

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) requirements for state and local government services; includes requirements to prepare a transition plan
29 CFR Part 1630

Regulations to Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) requirements related to equal opportunity for qualified individuals with disabilities in employment decisions
36 CFR Part 1194 Information and Communication Technology Standards and Guidelines

U.S. Access Board standards for information and communication technology. Section 508 standards are found in Appendix D.

These standards are required only for federal agencies and have not been adopted by a regulatory agency for non-federal agencies.  They are referenced in this toolkit only as technical guidance.


Regulatory Standards


Guidance and Technical Assistance

FTA ADA Circular

FTA often communicates guidance on regulations through circulars, which assist grantees in understanding and complying with statutory requirements.  This guidance provides grantees with direction on program-specific issues and statutory requirements. 

In 2015, FTA issued its Circular C 4710.1, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Guidance.  This circular incorporates U.S. DOT requirements under the ADA as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The requirements and guidance in the FTA ADA Circular apply to all transit providers, including those that operate FTA-funded programs, including subrecipients of the Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas program.

Additional U.S. DOT Guidance

DREDF Topic Guides on ADA Transportation

FTA sponsored a series of technical assistance documents Topic Guides on ADA Transportation. Published in 2010, the topic guides were developed by the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) and TranSystems Corporation and are hosted on the DREDF website and linked to from the FTA website.

Guidance on Website Accessibility

As noted in the FTA Circular, while the U.S. DOT ADA regulations do not set standards for website accessibility, FTA suggests that agencies review U.S. DOJ guidance, Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities.  Technical guidance on making websites accessible can be found in U.S. Access Board Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology. National RTAP provides additional website accessibility technical assistance for rural transit agencies. Additional resources are introduced in the Rider Information section of the toolkit.

Updated June 15, 2020