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Handicap Parking Sign Rules and Regulations: A Summary of the 2010 Updates

Handicap parking sign rules underwent a major revision in 2010.  Understanding these regulations is important for both public and private property managers.  Here’s a breakdown of the most important updates.  As this is a high-level introduction to the topic, we recommend consulting an ADA specialist for in-depth information.

1.     All new construction projects must comply with federal handicap parking sign rules.  Alterations to existing structures may or may not fall under these mandates, depending on their architecture and state of repair.

2.     Government agencies at all levels must provide access to their facilities for disabled persons.  In some cases, this may necessitate structural improvements.  In other cases, less extensive measures may suffice.

3.     The new 2010 handicap parking sign rules emphasize removing existing barriers to disabled persons.  In practical terms, this means that facilities must take reasonable steps to increase access for the physically challenged.  For example, parking lots may be required to add spaces for handicapped drivers.  The key to understanding these rules is remembering that any changes must be, in the words of the regulations, “readily achievable.”  Certain exemptions exist where the needed changes may cause undue expense and/or substantial changes to existing locations.

4.     The 2010 regulations include a grandfathering provision for locales already in compliance to the 1991 standards.  For example, a shopping center parking lot may have 250 separate spaces, seven of which are set aside for the disabled and one of which is van-accessible.  While the 2010 rules require at least two van-accessible spots, parking lot owners are not required to upgrade the location unless they significantly alter it with new construction.


Handicap parking sign rules protect those with physical challenges, without placing an undue burden on property owners.  By following these guidelines, facility managers can express their public-spiritedness by helping the handicapped to enjoy a richer, fuller quality of life.