Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports), 46508-46514 [2015-19078]

Download as PDF 46508 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations [FR Doc. 2015–19090 Filed 8–4–15; 8:45 am] SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: BILLING CODE 6560–50–P Background DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Office of the Secretary 49 CFR Part 27 RIN 2105–AD91 [Docket No. DOT–OST–2011–0182] Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports) Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The Department is issuing a final rule to amend its rules implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires accessibility in airport terminal facilities that receive Federal financial assistance. The final rule includes new provisions related to service animal relief areas and captioning of televisions and audio-visual displays that are similar to existing requirements applicable to U.S. and foreign air carriers under the Department’s Air Carrier Access (ACAA) regulations. The final rule also reorganizes a provision concerning mechanical lifts for enplaning and deplaning passengers with mobility impairments, and amends this provision to require airports to work not only with U.S. carriers but also foreign air carriers to ensure that lifts are available where level entry loading bridges are not available. This final rule applies to airport facilities located in the United States with 10,000 or more annual enplanements that receive Federal financial assistance. DATES: This rule is effective October 5, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maegan L. Johnson, Senior Trial Attorney, Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W96–409, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366–9342. You may also contact Blane A. Workie, Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W96– 464, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366– 9342. Arrangements to receive this notice in an alternative format may be made by contacting the above named individuals. Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 On November 1, 1996, the U.S. Department of Transportation amended its regulation implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to create a new section, 49 CFR 27.72, concerning regulatory requirements for U.S. airports to ensure the availability of lifts to provide level-entry boarding for passengers with disabilities flying on small aircraft.1 See 61 FR 56409. This requirement paralleled the lift provisions applicable to U.S. carriers in the ACAA rule, 14 CFR part 382. On May 13, 2008, the Department of Transportation published a final rule that amended part 382 by making it applicable to foreign air carriers. See 73 FR 27614. This amendment also included provisions that require U.S. and foreign air carriers, in cooperation with airport operators, to provide service animal relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at U.S. airports. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(5). Part 382 also now requires U.S. and foreign air carriers to enable captioning on all televisions and other audio-visual displays that are capable of displaying captioning and that are located in any portion of the airport terminal to which any passengers have access. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(6). As a result of the 2008 amendments to Part 382, the requirements in Part 27 no longer mirrored the requirements applicable to airlines set forth in part 382 as had been intended. On September 21, 2011, the Department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in Docket OST 2011–0182 titled, ‘‘Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports).’’ See 76 FR 60426 et seq. (September 29, 2011). The Department proposed to amend part 27 by inserting provisions that would require airport operators to work with carriers to establish relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers with disabilities departing, connecting, or arriving at U.S. airports; to enable high-contrast captioning 2 on 1 Recognizing the need for level-entry boarding for passengers with mobility impairments on larger aircraft, the Department extended the applicability of its 1996 rule to aircraft with a seating capacity of 31 or more passengers in 2001. See 66 FR 22107. 2 High-contrast captioning is defined in 14 CFR 382.3 as ‘‘captioning that is at least as easy to read as white letters on a consistent black background.’’ As explained in the preamble to Part 382, defining ‘‘high-contrast captioning’’ in such a way not only ensures that captioning will be effective but also allows carriers to use existing or future technologies PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 certain televisions and audio-visual displays in U.S. airports; and to negotiate in good faith with foreign air carriers to provide, operate, and maintain lifts for boarding and deplaning where level-entry loading bridges are not available. The Department also proposed updates in the NPRM to outdated references that existed in 49 CFR part 27 by deleting obsolete references to the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards in 49 CFR 27.3(b), and changing the language ‘‘appendix A to part 37 of this title’’ to ‘‘appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title.’’ The Department asked a series of questions regarding the proposed amendments to part 27. We received 481 comments in response to the NPRM, the majority of which were received from individual commenters. The Department also received a number of comments from disability organizations, airports, and airport associations. We have carefully reviewed and considered these comments. The significant, relevant issues raised by the public comments to the NPRM are set forth below, as is the Department’s response. Service Animal Relief Areas In the NPRM, the Department sought comment on whether it should adopt requirements regarding the design of service animal relief areas and what, if any, provisions the rule should include concerning the dimensions, materials used, and maintenance for service animal relief areas. The Department explained that commenters should consider the size and surface material of the area, maintenance, and distance to service animal relief areas, which could vary based on the size and configuration of the airport. The Department also sought comment on the compliance date for these requirements. Comments Commenters that indicated that they are service animal users, and other individual commenters, favor the construction of service animal relief areas on non-cement surfaces. These commenters also expressed a desire to see overhangs covering service animal relief areas to protect service animal users from the elements. Airport and airport organization commenters, however, do not support specific mandates regarding the design, number, or location of service animal relief areas, and encourage the Department to adopt the general language that appears in part to achieve captioning that are as effective as white on black or more so. E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 382. Airports and airport organizations explain that using broader guidelines with respect to the design, materials and maintenance of service animal relief areas would allow airports to try new materials in the future as technology improves, and would allow airports to design service animal relief areas based on that airport’s unique geographical location. The Department also sought comment on what would be an appropriate number of service animal relief areas in an airport and how that number should be determined. For example, should the number be determined by the size or configuration of the airport (e.g., the number, location, and design of terminals and concourses) and/or the amount of time it would take for an individual with a disability to reach a service animal relief area from any gate within the airport? The majority of individual commenters and disability organizations favored a rule that would require at least one relief area in each airport terminal. These commenters also suggest, however, that if the rule were to only require one relief area per terminal, the airport should provide either escort service or transportation to service animal relief areas to expedite trips to service animal relief areas. A number of individual commenters opposed using the amount of time it would take an individual with a disability to reach a relief area from a particular gate as a barometer for determining the number of required service animal relief areas an airport should have, reasoning that walking time varies depending upon the individual. Some individual commenters, however, did suggest imposing a blanket standard of one service animal relief area per every 15 gates or at every quarter of a mile. Finally, with respect to the placement of service animal relief areas, the Department sought comment on whether service animal relief areas should be located inside or outside the sterile 3 area of an airport. The Department presented this question to the public after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in May 2011 revised its guidelines, ‘‘Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design and Construction,’’ making clear that airports may provide Service Animal Relief Areas in sterile areas of the airport. There is overwhelming support by individual commenters and disability organizations that at least one 3 The sterile area is the area between the TSA passenger screening checkpoint and the aircraft boarding gates. See 49 CFR 1540.5. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 relief area should be located in the sterile area of each airport terminal. Airports and airport associations, however, advocate that the rule not specifically mandate that service animal relief areas be located in the sterile area of an airport. These groups argue that the determination as to whether to place service animal relief areas in the sterile area of an airport should be made on an airport-by-airport basis. The Department also sought comment on whether the rule should include a provision requiring airports to specify the location of service animal relief areas on airport Web sites, maps and/or diagrams of the airport, including whether the relief area is located inside or outside a sterile area. Individual commenters support requiring airports to specify relief area locations on Web sites, maps and signage, but also suggest that airports make braille maps available to individuals with visual impairments to locate service animal relief areas. Some individual commenters also suggest that the Department establish a ‘‘universal symbol’’ for service animal relief areas, which could be used by airports throughout the country to identify service animal relief areas. Conversely, the Airports Council International—North America states that additional direction signage within the terminal building could potentially overload passengers and become counterproductive in assisting passengers with locating service animal relief areas. The organization reasoned that because carriers provide escorts to passengers with service animals, escorts who know the location of the service animal relief areas should be sufficient. Anticipating that its final rule might include requirements with respect to service animal relief areas that are more involved than the requirements for U.S. and foreign carriers that exist in part 382, the Department solicited comment in the NPRM on whether any requirement that applies to U.S. airports should also be applied to U.S. and foreign carriers. All commenters that addressed the Department’s inquiry agreed that any requirement that applied to U.S. airports should also be applied to both U.S. and foreign carriers. Finally, the NPRM sought comment on whether the final rule regarding establishing service animal relief areas should take effect 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register. While the majority of individual commenters believe that 120 days is an appropriate amount of time to comply with the requirements of the rule regarding service animal relief areas, airports and airport organizations PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 46509 generally support a longer timeframe to comply with the requirements. These groups argue that airports need additional time to raise revenue to implement any additional requirements with respect to service animal relief areas that may be imposed by the rule. DOT Response Having fully considered the comments, the Department has decided that it will not adopt specific requirements with respect to the dimensions, design, materials, and maintenance of service animal relief areas, with the exception that such service animal relief areas be wheelchair accessible. While the Department specifically mandates in the final rule that service animal relief areas be wheelchair accessible, this requirement, although new to part 27, is already a requirement that is imposed upon U.S. airports by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, the Department decided to include this mandate in the final rule to remind U.S. airports of their obligation to ensure that service animal relief areas are wheelchair accessible. This final rule, similar to part 382, also requires airports to consult with service animal training organizations regarding the design, dimensions, materials and maintenance of service animal relief areas. We expect that most airports will likely choose to work with local chapters of national service animal training organizations to comply with this requirement as those organizations may be better suited to make specific suggestions that are tailored to individual airports though many service animal training organizations can undoubtedly be a useful resource for U.S airports. With respect to the number of service animal relief areas required at an airport, the Department has decided to require airports to provide at least one service animal relief area in each airport terminal. As proposed in the NPRM, the Department is using airport terminals as the standard upon which airports must determine the number of required service animal relief areas, rather than using the amount of time it would take for an individual with a disability to reach a service animal relief area from a particular gate. The Department notes that while some individual commenters and disability organizations suggest that we adopt requirements in part 27 that would require escort service to relief areas in the event that the Department decided to adopt the requirement for a single relief area per terminal, part 382 already requires U.S. and foreign air carriers to provide, in cooperation with E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES 46510 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations U.S. airport operators, escorts to individuals with disabilities to service animal relief areas upon request. See 14 CFR 382.91(c). As such, the Department is not imposing a requirement for U.S. airports to provide escort service to relief areas. This final rule does require that airports not only have at least one relief area per terminal but also that this service animal relief area, with limited exceptions, be located in the sterile area of each airport terminal to ensure that individuals with service animals are able to access service animal relief areas when traveling, particularly during layovers. Recognizing that the TSA may prohibit a particular airport from locating a relief area in the sterile area of a terminal, the rule provides airports with an exception to this requirement if TSA prohibits a particular airport from locating a relief area in the sterile area of a terminal for security-related reasons. The Department also realizes that, based on an airport’s configuration, a relief area in the non-sterile area of an airport may be more desirable to relief area users. As such, the Department is allowing airports the option of placing a relief area in a location other than the sterile area of a terminal if a service animal training organization, the airport, and the carriers in the terminal in which the relief area will be located agree that a relief area would be better placed outside the terminal’s sterile area instead of inside the sterile area. The airport must, however, document and retain a record of this agreement. The Department decided not to adopt a provision in the rule requiring airports to specify the location of service animal relief areas on airport Web sites, on any airport map intended for use by travelers, and on signage located throughout the airport. The Department reasoned that a regulation requiring airports, which have already been equipped with service animal relief areas for a number of years as a result of the requirements in Part 382, to specify the location of service animal relief areas is unnecessary as a number of airports already have signage indicating the location of service animal relief areas. Airports also generally aim to provide signage in accordance with internationally-agreed standards as set forth in ICAO Annex 9. If the Department finds that there is confusion about the location of service animal relief areas at U.S. airports, it will revisit this issue. Finally, the Department is providing U.S. airports one year to comply with the requirement to establish at least one service animal relief areas per airport terminal. The Department believes this VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 is sufficient time for U.S. airports to raise the needed revenue 4 and determine the appropriate location as well as the design of the service animal relief areas in consultation with service animal training organizations and in cooperation with airlines. Information for Passengers The Department sought comment in the NPRM on its proposal to require airport operators to enable high-contrast captioning on television and audiovisual displays in U.S. airports, which is a requirement that is imposed upon U.S. and foreign carriers in part 382 for the portion of the terminal facilities they own, lease or control at U.S. airports to which passengers have access. The Department also sought comment on whether a thirty-day implementation period is adequate. Comments Airport and airport organization commenters suggest that the Department only require those televisions and audio-visual displays owned or controlled by airports to be subject to the captioning requirement. Individual commenters, however, favor a blanket requirement that captioning be enabled on all televisions throughout the airport. Given the non-burdensome nature of this requirement, the Department proposed a thirty-day implementation period in the NPRM. All but one of the nine commenters that submitted comments on this subject agree that 30 days is a sufficient implementation period for this requirement, while one airport commenter suggests a 90 to 120 day implementation period for larger airports with more televisions. The Department sought comment on whether it should require U.S. airports to display messages and pages broadcast over public address systems on video monitors so that persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing do not miss important information available to others at an airport. The Department also sought comment on whether visual display of information announced over the public address system is the best means to disseminate airport-related announcements to passengers with hearing impairments. Some airports and airport organizations commented that while displaying messages on video monitors is one method of providing information to passengers with a hearing impairment, the Department should not adopt a rule specifically 4 See NPRM wherein the Department estimates that the initial cost to establish a relief area for each terminal is approximately $5,000 per terminal, with low- and high-cost alternatives ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 requiring that this method be used. Individual commenters suggest, however, that in addition to the use of video monitors to communicate with individuals with a hearing impairment throughout the airport, the Department could require airports to install hearing loops at ticket counters and in the gate areas of airports and LED screens reserved for the display of essential announcements. The Department also sought comment as to whether it should establish a performance standard for providing information to individuals with hearing impairments rather than require airports to use a particular medium (e.g., video monitors, wireless pagers, erasable boards). Some airport and airport organization commenters support the adoption of performance standards rather than specific requirements, in order to allow airports the flexibility to determine the most effective way to communicate with passengers and to account for developing technologies. The Department also asked interested persons to comment on whether the Department should simply require that airports provide the text of the announcements made over the public address system promptly or should instead require that there be simultaneous visual transmission of the information. While one airport organization supports providing the text of the announcement promptly, as the display of the text usually closely follows announcements made over public address systems, a disability rights organization supports simultaneous transmission of the information through public information displays. Finally, the Department sought comment on whether all announcements made through the public address system should be displayed in a manner that is accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers, or only those announcements that are essential. The Department also sought comment on the amount of time and the cost involved in establishing such a system. Individual commenters support displaying all announcements in a manner accessible to deaf and hard-ofhearing travelers, with one commenter suggesting that essential messages should be given priority over nonessential messages. Airports and airport associations advocate that only essential messages be displayed in an accessible manner so as not to overwhelm a technology system and dilute the information that passengers need. With respect to the amount of time and cost involved in establishing such a system, one individual commenter and one E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations disability organization suggest that 30 days would be a sufficient amount of time for airports to establish the system, while an airport commenter contends that 30 days is too short a time period to establish such a system and suggests a two-year implementation time period. Furthermore, one airport commenter states that it would cost $100,000 to establish such a system as long as the capability exists in the airport’s visual display software. The airport further explains that the cost to establish such a system would be difficult to determine if the airport didn’t have software capable of displaying visual pages. DOT’s Response Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES After carefully considering the comments the Department received on this subject, we have decided to adopt the proposed language in the NPRM, which closely follows the current requirements that apply to U.S. and foreign carriers in part 382. As such, airport operators will be required to enable or ensure high-contrast captioning at all times on televisions and other audio-visual displays capable of displaying captions located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common area of the terminal to which passengers have access. In the case of televisions and other audio-visual displays located in space leased by a shop or restaurant, the airport operator is obligated to ensure by contract or other means that the shop or restaurant enables the captioning feature on its televisions and other audio-visual displays in a manner that meets this obligation. The Department decided to adopt the language in the NPRM reasoning that the adoption of a rule requiring airports to enable the captioning feature is not a costly or otherwise onerous requirement as most televisions currently in use at U.S. airports have captioning capabilities. Notwithstanding this, because the Department received such a limited number of comments with respect to its questions regarding how to best provide information to deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers in airports, we have decided not to impose any new requirements on this subject that exceed the requirements that currently exist with respect to U.S. and foreign air carriers in part 382. Boarding Lifts for Aircraft The Department sought comment as to whether it should require U.S. airport operators to negotiate in good faith with foreign carriers to ensure that ramps or mechanical lifts are available for VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 enplaning and deplaning passengers with disabilities. Comments We received one comment from an airport organization in response to our inquiry. This commenter supports airports negotiating with foreign carriers to ensure the availability of lifts. The organization reasons that this requirement would ensure that all parties would be held accountable for providing boarding assistance to passengers. With respect to our last inquiry, whether the Department should require airports to purchase additional lifts, the only comment we received was from an airport that opposes adopting such a requirement because of the potential financial impact it could have on airports. DOT’s Response The Department has considered the two comments received with respect to the questions it posed regarding boarding lifts for aircraft. The Department has decided to adopt the proposed language in the NPRM, which requires airports to negotiate with foreign carriers, in addition to U.S. carriers, to ensure the provision of lifts, ramps and other devices used for boarding and deplaning where levelentry boarding is not available. This requirement only imposes the same requirement for foreign carriers that has existed for airport operators with respect to U.S. carriers. Due to the lack of commentary from the public, the Department has decided to refrain from imposing additional requirements on airports to purchase additional lifts. Regulatory Analyses and Notices A. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures This action has been determined not to be significant under Executive Order 12866 and the Department’s Regulatory Policies and Procedures. It has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563. Executive Order 13563 directs agencies to propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs, tailor the regulation to impose the least burden on society consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives, and in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 46511 approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13563 recognizes that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify and provides that, where appropriate and permitted by law, agencies may consider and discuss qualitatively values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts. Of the three provisions in the final rule, the only element of the final rule that will involve a substantial cost to airports is the requirement that service animal relief areas for service animals be located inside the sterile area of each terminal. The relief area requirement in the final rule promotes the aforementioned qualitative values by ensuring equal access to air transportation by passengers with disabilities traveling with services animals. In the Department’s view, the non-quantifiable benefits associated with requiring at least one relief area per airport terminal and requiring this service animal relief area be in the sterile area of the airport with limited exceptions is wholly consistent with the ACAA’s mandate to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities in air transportation. The primary non-quantifiable benefit to a passenger with a disability traveling with a service animal is that he or she does not have to leave the sterile area of the terminal to access the airport’s relief area. While the Department does not have sufficient information to quantify the value of time savings associated with requiring that service animal relief areas be located in the sterile area of the airport, a number of commenters to the NPRM commented that they were often forced to create itineraries with longer layover times because of the amount of time it takes for passengers with a disability to locate service animal relief areas and the amount of time it takes to exit the sterile area, relieve a service animal, and pass through security again. The Department recognizes that individuals with disabilities may be prevented from visiting service animal relief areas located outside the sterile area of an airport during a layover. Furthermore, travelers with disabilities that have a layover may not be able to access landside service animal relief areas due to time constraints and disability-related reasons. The new requirement in the rule requiring airports to place a relief area in the sterile area of each terminal E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES 46512 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations of the airport will allow such travelers access to service animal relief areas.5 Other non-quantifiable benefits associated with locating service animal relief areas in the sterile area of each airport terminal include the ability for passengers to consider more flight options. Those passengers previously limited to selecting itineraries with extended layover periods may consider travel itineraries with shorter layover times once service animal relief areas are located in the sterile area of an airport. In addition, locating service animal relief areas in the sterile area would promote independence among those passengers accompanied by service animals as they may be able to independently locate service animal relief areas without relying on the assistance of escorts, which are now commonly used to assist passengers traveling with service animals in traversing through the airports and exiting and reentering the sterile area during a layover. Locating service animal relief areas in the sterile area will also reduce the amount of effort and discomfort experienced by individuals with disabilities when trying to relieve their service animals during a layover. The final rule also offers the benefits of improved convenience to nondisabled persons accompanied by an animal or pet while at the airport. Although these benefits are not encompassed by the rule’s purpose, individuals traveling with pets or security dogs trained to detect security threats may also find it convenient to use service animal relief areas located in the secure area of the airport. As stated above, the final regulatory assessment estimates that there will be some cost for airports to implement the service animal relief area requirements in the final rule. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lists 387 airports in the United States. Of these, 29 are large hubs, 35 are medium hubs, 74 are small hubs, and 249 are non-hubs, which are defined as having more than 10,000 passenger enplanements per year but less than 0.05% of the overall total enplanements. As we explained in the NPRM, there is no consistent method for assigning a number of terminals to an airport given the widely divergent plans for airports. Notwithstanding, we were able to use the airport category defined by the FAA in terms of the number of enplanements to estimate the number of terminals in a given airport. Based on 5 See the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design and Construction, May of 2011. http://www.tsa.gov/ assets/pdf/airport_security_design_guidelines.pdf. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 this system, we assume that large hubs have an average of 7 terminals; medium hubs average 5 terminals, small hubs average 3 terminals, and non-hubs average 1 terminal per airport. As a result, we estimate that 849 terminals would be affected by this service animal relief requirement in the final rule. We do note that this is a high estimation given that some airports may have already installed service animal relief areas within the sterile area of the airport; however, because most service animal relief areas currently reside outside of the sterile area, we expect that most of these terminals would be impacted by the requirements in the final rule. The final regulatory assessment estimates that the service animal relief area requirements will cost those 387 airports affected by the rule approximately $88.1 million over 20 years, discounted at 7%. As explained above, the total cost of installing service animal relief areas varies by airport as the cost incurred by an airport will depend upon the number of terminals in the airport. This cost estimate, however, considers the cost of construction and maintenance of service animal relief areas and the calculation of the amount of foregone rent that airports may forfeit by using space in an airport terminal for service animal relief areas that, conceivably, would have been rented out to restaurants or other vendors. We note that the cost of foregone rent and construction materials is also dependent upon airport size as rent space and materials appear to be more expensive at larger airports. This cost estimate also factors in the cost incurred by airports from consulting with service animal training organizations on the design, dimensions, materials, maintenance, and location of service animal relief areas. While the final regulatory assessment estimates that there will be some cost for airports to implement the service animal relief area requirements in the final rule, the boarding lift requirement and the captioning requirement are expected to have minimal financial impact on airports. The requirements in the final rule related to lifts will not require airports to purchase additional lifts because the airports with 10,000 or more enplanements will already have lifts available as a result of the existing agreements between airports and U.S. carriers requiring the availability of lifts at those airports. There is, however, a cost associated with the enabling of captioning on airport-controlled televisions. The estimated total present value over 20 years to enable captioning on television PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 is $410,840, discounted at 7%. The respective annualized value is $38,780. This figure is based on the assumption that, initially, captioning will need to be enabled on 100% of airport-controlled televisions; in subsequent years, captioning will only need to be reactivated on 10% per annum of those television in which captioning was initially activated. B. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 (‘‘Federalism’’). This final rule does not impose any regulation that: (1) Has substantial direct effects on the States, the relationship between the national government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government; or (2) imposes substantial direct compliance costs on States and local governments. Therefore, the consultation and funding requirements of Executive Order 13132 do not apply. C. Executive Order 13084 This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13175 (‘‘Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments’’). The funding and consultation requirements of Executive Order 13084 do not apply because this final rule does not significantly or uniquely affect the communities of the Indian tribal governments and does not impose substantial direct compliance costs. D. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996), requires an agency to review regulations to assess their impact on small entities, including small businesses, small nonprofit organizations and small governmental jurisdictions. Privately owned airports with annual revenues that do not exceed $32.5 million are considered small businesses by the size standards created by the Small Business Administration. Furthermore, publicly owned airports are categorized as small entities if they are owned by a jurisdiction with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants. In light of this standard, we estimate that approximately 55 of the 387 airports affected by the final rule are considered small entities. Therefore, the Department has determined that this rule will have an impact on some small entities. However, the Department has determined that the impact on entities E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations affected by the rule will not be significant. We estimate that the cost of constructing and maintaining service animal relief areas at those 55 airports, assuming that those airports contain only 1 terminal, is approximately $4 million over 20 years at a 7% discount rate. Considering that the combined annual revenue of small-hub and nonhub airports in 2013 alone was $2.4 billion, the costs associated with this rule will not be significant. E. Paperwork Reduction Act Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), a Federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (Pub. L. 104–13, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). The Department may not impose a penalty on persons for violating information collection requirements when an information collection required to have a current OMB control number does not have one. This final rule does not adopt any new information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act The Department has determined that the requirements of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 do not apply to this notice. G. National Environmental Policy Act The Department has analyzed the environmental impacts of this proposed action pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has determined that it is categorically excluded pursuant to DOT Order 5610.1C, Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (44 FR 56420, Oct. 1, 1979). Categorical exclusions are actions identified in an agency’s NEPA implementing procedures that do not normally have a significant impact on the environment and therefore do not require either an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS). See 40 CFR 1508.4. In analyzing the applicability of a categorical exclusion, the agency must also consider whether extraordinary circumstances are present that would warrant the preparation of an EA or EIS. Id. Paragraph 3.c.6.i of DOT Order 5610.1C categorically excludes ‘‘[a]ctions relating to consumer protection, including regulations.’’ The purpose of this rulemaking to amend the Department’s regulations implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 require service animal relief areas and captioning of televisions and audiovisual displays. The Department does not anticipate any environmental impacts, and there are no extraordinary circumstances present in connection with this rulemaking. List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 27 Airports, Civil rights, Individuals with disabilities, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of Transportation is amending 49 CFR part 27 as follows: PART 27—NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY IN PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES RECEIVING FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE 1. The authority citation for Part 27 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794); sec. 16(a) and (d) of the Federal Transit Act of 1964, as amended (49 U.S.C. 5310(a) and (f); sec. 165(b) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, as amended (23 U.S.C. 142 nt.). 2. In § 27.3, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 27.3 Applicability. * * * * * (b) Design, construction, or alteration of buildings or other fixed facilities by public entities subject to part 37 of this title shall be in conformance with appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title. All other entities subject to section 504 shall design, construct, or alter buildings, or other fixed facilities, in conformance with appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title. ■ 3. In § 27.71, paragraphs (h) and (i) are added to read as follows: § 27.71 Airport facilities. * * * * * (h) Service animal relief areas. Each airport with 10,000 or more annual enplanements shall cooperate with airlines that own, lease, or control terminal facilities at that airport to provide wheelchair accessible animal relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at the airport subject to the following requirements: (1) Airports must consult with one or more service animal training organizations regarding the design, dimensions, materials and maintenance of service animal relief areas; PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 46513 (2) Airports must establish at least one relief area in each airport terminal; (3) Airports must establish the relief area required by paragrah (h)(2) of this section in the sterile area of each airport terminal unless: (i) The Transportation Security Administration prohibits the airport from locating a relief area in the sterile area, or (ii) A service animal training organization, the airport, and the carriers in the terminal in which the relief area will be located agree that a relief area would be better placed outside the terminal’s sterile area. In that event, the airport must retain documentation evidencing the recommendation that the relief area be located outside of the sterile area; and (4) To the extent airports have established service animal relief areas prior to the effective date of this paragraph: (i) Airports that have not consulted with a service animal training organization shall consult with one or more such organizations regarding the sufficiency of all existing service animal relief areas, (ii) Airports shall meet the requirements of this section August 4, 2016. (i) High-contrast captioning (captioning that is at least as easy to read as white letters on a consistent black background) on television and audio-visual displays. This paragraph applies to airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements. (1) Airport operators must enable or ensure high-contrast captioning at all times on all televisions and other audiovisual displays that are capable of displaying captions and that are located in any gate area, ticketing area, firstclass or other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common area of the terminal to which any passengers have access and that are owned, leased, or controlled by the airport. (2) With respect to any televisions and other audio-visual displays located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common area of the terminal to which any passengers have access that provide passengers with safety briefings, information, or entertainment that do not have high-contrast captioning capability, an airport operator must replace or ensure the replacement of these devices with equipment that does have such capability whenever such equipment is replaced in the normal course of operations and/or whenever areas of the terminal in which such E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1 46514 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 5, 2015 / Rules and Regulations equipment is located undergo substantial renovation or expansion. (3) If an airport installs new televisions and other audio-visual displays for passenger safety briefings, information, or entertainment on or after October 5, 2015, such equipment must have high-contrast captioning capability. * * * * * ■ 4. Revise § 27.72 to read as follows: Lhorne on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES § 27.72 Boarding assistance for aircraft. (a) This section applies to airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements. (b) Airports shall, in cooperation with carriers serving the airports, provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities using mechanical lifts, ramps, or other devices that do not require employees to lift or carry passengers up stairs. This section applies to all aircraft with a passenger capacity of 19 or more passenger seats, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. Paragraph (c) of this section applies to U.S. carriers and paragraph (d) of this section applies to foreign carriers. (c) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each U.S. carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use of boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator must have a written, signed agreement with each U.S. carrier allocating responsibility for meeting the boarding and deplaning assistance requirements of this section between or among the parties. The agreement shall be made available, on request, to representatives of the Department of Transportation. (1) All airport operators and U.S. carriers involved are jointly and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of the agreement. (2) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition. (d) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each foreign carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use of boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator shall, by no later than November 3, 2015, sign a written VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Aug 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 agreement with the foreign carrier allocating responsibility for meeting the boarding and deplaning assistance requirements of this section between or among the parties. The agreement shall be made available, on request, to representatives of the Department of Transportation. (1) The agreement shall provide that all actions necessary to ensure accessible boarding and deplaning for passengers with disabilities are completed as soon as practicable, but no later than December 3, 2015. (2) All airport operators and foreign carriers involved are jointly and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of the agreement. (3) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition. (e) Boarding assistance agreements required in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section are not required to apply to the following situations: (1) Access to float planes; (2) Access to the following 19-seat capacity aircraft models: The Fairchild Metro, the Jetstream 31 and 32, the Beech 1900 (C and D models), and the Embraer EMB–120; (3) Access to any other aircraft model determined by the Department of Transportation to be unsuitable for boarding and deplaning assistance by lift, ramp, or other suitable device. The Department will make such a determination if it concludes that— (i) No existing boarding and deplaning assistance device on the market will accommodate the aircraft without significant risk of serious damage to the aircraft or injury to passengers or employees, or (ii) Internal barriers are present in the aircraft that would preclude passengers who use a boarding or aisle chair from reaching a non-exit row seat. (f) When level-entry boarding and deplaning assistance is not required to be provided under paragraph (e) of this section, or cannot be provided as required by paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section (e.g., because of mechanical problems with a lift), boarding assistance shall be provided by any available means to which the passenger consents. However, handcarrying (i.e., directly picking up the passenger’s body in the arms of one or more carrier personnel to effect a level change the passenger needs to enter or leave the aircraft) must never be used, even if the passenger consents, unless this is the only way of evacuating the individual in the event of an emergency. PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (g) In the event that airport personnel are involved in providing boarding assistance, the airport shall ensure that they are trained to proficiency in the use of the boarding assistance equipment used at the airport and appropriate boarding assistance procedures that safeguard the safety and dignity of passengers. Issued this day of July 29, 2015, in Washington, DC. Anthony R. Foxx, Secretary of Transportation. [FR Doc. 2015–19078 Filed 8–4–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–9X–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Transit Administration 49 CFR Part 611 [Docket No. FTA–2015–0007] RIN 2132–ZA03 Notice of Availability of Final Interim Policy Guidance for the Capital Investment Grant Program Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of availability of final interim policy guidance. AGENCY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is announcing the availability of final interim policy guidance on the Capital Investment Grant (‘‘CIG’’) program. The final interim guidance has been placed both in the docket and on FTA’s Web site. In brief, the policy guidance that FTA periodically issues on the CIG program complements the FTA regulations that govern the program. The regulations set forth the process that grant applicants must follow to be eligible for discretionary funding under the CIG program. The policy guidance provides a greater level of detail about the methods FTA uses to apply the evaluation criteria and the sequential steps a sponsor must follow in developing a project. DATES: This final policy guidance is effective August 5, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Day, FTA Office of Planning and Environment, telephone (202) 366– 5159 or Elizabeth.Day@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5309(g)(5), FTA is required to publish policy guidance on the CIG program each time the agency makes significant changes to the process and/ or evaluation criteria, and in any event, at least once every two years. Also, FTA SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\05AUR1.SGM 05AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 150 (Wednesday, August 5, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 46508-46514]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-19078]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary

49 CFR Part 27

RIN 2105-AD91
[Docket No. DOT-OST-2011-0182]


Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or 
Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports)

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department is issuing a final rule to amend its rules 
implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which 
requires accessibility in airport terminal facilities that receive 
Federal financial assistance. The final rule includes new provisions 
related to service animal relief areas and captioning of televisions 
and audio-visual displays that are similar to existing requirements 
applicable to U.S. and foreign air carriers under the Department's Air 
Carrier Access (ACAA) regulations. The final rule also reorganizes a 
provision concerning mechanical lifts for enplaning and deplaning 
passengers with mobility impairments, and amends this provision to 
require airports to work not only with U.S. carriers but also foreign 
air carriers to ensure that lifts are available where level entry 
loading bridges are not available. This final rule applies to airport 
facilities located in the United States with 10,000 or more annual 
enplanements that receive Federal financial assistance.

DATES: This rule is effective October 5, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maegan L. Johnson, Senior Trial 
Attorney, Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation 
Enforcement and Proceedings, Department of Transportation, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Room W96-409, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-9342. 
You may also contact Blane A. Workie, Assistant General Counsel for 
Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Department of Transportation, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W96-464, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 
366-9342. Arrangements to receive this notice in an alternative format 
may be made by contacting the above named individuals.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On November 1, 1996, the U.S. Department of Transportation amended 
its regulation implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 
1973 to create a new section, 49 CFR 27.72, concerning regulatory 
requirements for U.S. airports to ensure the availability of lifts to 
provide level-entry boarding for passengers with disabilities flying on 
small aircraft.\1\ See 61 FR 56409. This requirement paralleled the 
lift provisions applicable to U.S. carriers in the ACAA rule, 14 CFR 
part 382. On May 13, 2008, the Department of Transportation published a 
final rule that amended part 382 by making it applicable to foreign air 
carriers. See 73 FR 27614. This amendment also included provisions that 
require U.S. and foreign air carriers, in cooperation with airport 
operators, to provide service animal relief areas for service animals 
that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at U.S. 
airports. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(5). Part 382 also now requires U.S. and 
foreign air carriers to enable captioning on all televisions and other 
audio-visual displays that are capable of displaying captioning and 
that are located in any portion of the airport terminal to which any 
passengers have access. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(6). As a result of the 
2008 amendments to Part 382, the requirements in Part 27 no longer 
mirrored the requirements applicable to airlines set forth in part 382 
as had been intended.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Recognizing the need for level-entry boarding for passengers 
with mobility impairments on larger aircraft, the Department 
extended the applicability of its 1996 rule to aircraft with a 
seating capacity of 31 or more passengers in 2001. See 66 FR 22107.
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    On September 21, 2011, the Department issued a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM) in Docket OST 2011-0182 titled, ``Nondiscrimination 
on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal 
Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports).'' See 76 FR 60426 et seq. 
(September 29, 2011). The Department proposed to amend part 27 by 
inserting provisions that would require airport operators to work with 
carriers to establish relief areas for service animals that accompany 
passengers with disabilities departing, connecting, or arriving at U.S. 
airports; to enable high-contrast captioning \2\ on certain televisions 
and audio-visual displays in U.S. airports; and to negotiate in good 
faith with foreign air carriers to provide, operate, and maintain lifts 
for boarding and deplaning where level-entry loading bridges are not 
available. The Department also proposed updates in the NPRM to outdated 
references that existed in 49 CFR part 27 by deleting obsolete 
references to the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards in 49 CFR 
27.3(b), and changing the language ``appendix A to part 37 of this 
title'' to ``appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified by 
appendix A to part 37 of this title.''
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    \2\ High-contrast captioning is defined in 14 CFR 382.3 as 
``captioning that is at least as easy to read as white letters on a 
consistent black background.'' As explained in the preamble to Part 
382, defining ``high-contrast captioning'' in such a way not only 
ensures that captioning will be effective but also allows carriers 
to use existing or future technologies to achieve captioning that 
are as effective as white on black or more so.
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    The Department asked a series of questions regarding the proposed 
amendments to part 27. We received 481 comments in response to the 
NPRM, the majority of which were received from individual commenters. 
The Department also received a number of comments from disability 
organizations, airports, and airport associations. We have carefully 
reviewed and considered these comments. The significant, relevant 
issues raised by the public comments to the NPRM are set forth below, 
as is the Department's response.

Service Animal Relief Areas

    In the NPRM, the Department sought comment on whether it should 
adopt requirements regarding the design of service animal relief areas 
and what, if any, provisions the rule should include concerning the 
dimensions, materials used, and maintenance for service animal relief 
areas. The Department explained that commenters should consider the 
size and surface material of the area, maintenance, and distance to 
service animal relief areas, which could vary based on the size and 
configuration of the airport. The Department also sought comment on the 
compliance date for these requirements.

Comments

    Commenters that indicated that they are service animal users, and 
other individual commenters, favor the construction of service animal 
relief areas on non-cement surfaces. These commenters also expressed a 
desire to see overhangs covering service animal relief areas to protect 
service animal users from the elements. Airport and airport 
organization commenters, however, do not support specific mandates 
regarding the design, number, or location of service animal relief 
areas, and encourage the Department to adopt the general language that 
appears in part

[[Page 46509]]

382. Airports and airport organizations explain that using broader 
guidelines with respect to the design, materials and maintenance of 
service animal relief areas would allow airports to try new materials 
in the future as technology improves, and would allow airports to 
design service animal relief areas based on that airport's unique 
geographical location.
    The Department also sought comment on what would be an appropriate 
number of service animal relief areas in an airport and how that number 
should be determined. For example, should the number be determined by 
the size or configuration of the airport (e.g., the number, location, 
and design of terminals and concourses) and/or the amount of time it 
would take for an individual with a disability to reach a service 
animal relief area from any gate within the airport?
    The majority of individual commenters and disability organizations 
favored a rule that would require at least one relief area in each 
airport terminal. These commenters also suggest, however, that if the 
rule were to only require one relief area per terminal, the airport 
should provide either escort service or transportation to service 
animal relief areas to expedite trips to service animal relief areas. A 
number of individual commenters opposed using the amount of time it 
would take an individual with a disability to reach a relief area from 
a particular gate as a barometer for determining the number of required 
service animal relief areas an airport should have, reasoning that 
walking time varies depending upon the individual. Some individual 
commenters, however, did suggest imposing a blanket standard of one 
service animal relief area per every 15 gates or at every quarter of a 
mile.
    Finally, with respect to the placement of service animal relief 
areas, the Department sought comment on whether service animal relief 
areas should be located inside or outside the sterile \3\ area of an 
airport. The Department presented this question to the public after the 
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in May 2011 revised its 
guidelines, ``Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, 
Design and Construction,'' making clear that airports may provide 
Service Animal Relief Areas in sterile areas of the airport. There is 
overwhelming support by individual commenters and disability 
organizations that at least one relief area should be located in the 
sterile area of each airport terminal. Airports and airport 
associations, however, advocate that the rule not specifically mandate 
that service animal relief areas be located in the sterile area of an 
airport. These groups argue that the determination as to whether to 
place service animal relief areas in the sterile area of an airport 
should be made on an airport-by-airport basis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The sterile area is the area between the TSA passenger 
screening checkpoint and the aircraft boarding gates. See 49 CFR 
1540.5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department also sought comment on whether the rule should 
include a provision requiring airports to specify the location of 
service animal relief areas on airport Web sites, maps and/or diagrams 
of the airport, including whether the relief area is located inside or 
outside a sterile area. Individual commenters support requiring 
airports to specify relief area locations on Web sites, maps and 
signage, but also suggest that airports make braille maps available to 
individuals with visual impairments to locate service animal relief 
areas. Some individual commenters also suggest that the Department 
establish a ``universal symbol'' for service animal relief areas, which 
could be used by airports throughout the country to identify service 
animal relief areas. Conversely, the Airports Council International--
North America states that additional direction signage within the 
terminal building could potentially overload passengers and become 
counterproductive in assisting passengers with locating service animal 
relief areas. The organization reasoned that because carriers provide 
escorts to passengers with service animals, escorts who know the 
location of the service animal relief areas should be sufficient.
    Anticipating that its final rule might include requirements with 
respect to service animal relief areas that are more involved than the 
requirements for U.S. and foreign carriers that exist in part 382, the 
Department solicited comment in the NPRM on whether any requirement 
that applies to U.S. airports should also be applied to U.S. and 
foreign carriers. All commenters that addressed the Department's 
inquiry agreed that any requirement that applied to U.S. airports 
should also be applied to both U.S. and foreign carriers.
    Finally, the NPRM sought comment on whether the final rule 
regarding establishing service animal relief areas should take effect 
120 days after its publication in the Federal Register. While the 
majority of individual commenters believe that 120 days is an 
appropriate amount of time to comply with the requirements of the rule 
regarding service animal relief areas, airports and airport 
organizations generally support a longer timeframe to comply with the 
requirements. These groups argue that airports need additional time to 
raise revenue to implement any additional requirements with respect to 
service animal relief areas that may be imposed by the rule.

DOT Response

    Having fully considered the comments, the Department has decided 
that it will not adopt specific requirements with respect to the 
dimensions, design, materials, and maintenance of service animal relief 
areas, with the exception that such service animal relief areas be 
wheelchair accessible. While the Department specifically mandates in 
the final rule that service animal relief areas be wheelchair 
accessible, this requirement, although new to part 27, is already a 
requirement that is imposed upon U.S. airports by the Americans with 
Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, the Department decided to include this 
mandate in the final rule to remind U.S. airports of their obligation 
to ensure that service animal relief areas are wheelchair accessible.
    This final rule, similar to part 382, also requires airports to 
consult with service animal training organizations regarding the 
design, dimensions, materials and maintenance of service animal relief 
areas. We expect that most airports will likely choose to work with 
local chapters of national service animal training organizations to 
comply with this requirement as those organizations may be better 
suited to make specific suggestions that are tailored to individual 
airports though many service animal training organizations can 
undoubtedly be a useful resource for U.S airports.
    With respect to the number of service animal relief areas required 
at an airport, the Department has decided to require airports to 
provide at least one service animal relief area in each airport 
terminal. As proposed in the NPRM, the Department is using airport 
terminals as the standard upon which airports must determine the number 
of required service animal relief areas, rather than using the amount 
of time it would take for an individual with a disability to reach a 
service animal relief area from a particular gate. The Department notes 
that while some individual commenters and disability organizations 
suggest that we adopt requirements in part 27 that would require escort 
service to relief areas in the event that the Department decided to 
adopt the requirement for a single relief area per terminal, part 382 
already requires U.S. and foreign air carriers to provide, in 
cooperation with

[[Page 46510]]

U.S. airport operators, escorts to individuals with disabilities to 
service animal relief areas upon request. See 14 CFR 382.91(c). As 
such, the Department is not imposing a requirement for U.S. airports to 
provide escort service to relief areas.
    This final rule does require that airports not only have at least 
one relief area per terminal but also that this service animal relief 
area, with limited exceptions, be located in the sterile area of each 
airport terminal to ensure that individuals with service animals are 
able to access service animal relief areas when traveling, particularly 
during layovers. Recognizing that the TSA may prohibit a particular 
airport from locating a relief area in the sterile area of a terminal, 
the rule provides airports with an exception to this requirement if TSA 
prohibits a particular airport from locating a relief area in the 
sterile area of a terminal for security-related reasons. The Department 
also realizes that, based on an airport's configuration, a relief area 
in the non-sterile area of an airport may be more desirable to relief 
area users. As such, the Department is allowing airports the option of 
placing a relief area in a location other than the sterile area of a 
terminal if a service animal training organization, the airport, and 
the carriers in the terminal in which the relief area will be located 
agree that a relief area would be better placed outside the terminal's 
sterile area instead of inside the sterile area. The airport must, 
however, document and retain a record of this agreement.
    The Department decided not to adopt a provision in the rule 
requiring airports to specify the location of service animal relief 
areas on airport Web sites, on any airport map intended for use by 
travelers, and on signage located throughout the airport. The 
Department reasoned that a regulation requiring airports, which have 
already been equipped with service animal relief areas for a number of 
years as a result of the requirements in Part 382, to specify the 
location of service animal relief areas is unnecessary as a number of 
airports already have signage indicating the location of service animal 
relief areas. Airports also generally aim to provide signage in 
accordance with internationally-agreed standards as set forth in ICAO 
Annex 9. If the Department finds that there is confusion about the 
location of service animal relief areas at U.S. airports, it will 
revisit this issue.
    Finally, the Department is providing U.S. airports one year to 
comply with the requirement to establish at least one service animal 
relief areas per airport terminal. The Department believes this is 
sufficient time for U.S. airports to raise the needed revenue \4\ and 
determine the appropriate location as well as the design of the service 
animal relief areas in consultation with service animal training 
organizations and in cooperation with airlines.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ See NPRM wherein the Department estimates that the initial 
cost to establish a relief area for each terminal is approximately 
$5,000 per terminal, with low- and high-cost alternatives ranging 
from $1,000 to $10,000.
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Information for Passengers

    The Department sought comment in the NPRM on its proposal to 
require airport operators to enable high-contrast captioning on 
television and audio-visual displays in U.S. airports, which is a 
requirement that is imposed upon U.S. and foreign carriers in part 382 
for the portion of the terminal facilities they own, lease or control 
at U.S. airports to which passengers have access. The Department also 
sought comment on whether a thirty-day implementation period is 
adequate.

Comments

    Airport and airport organization commenters suggest that the 
Department only require those televisions and audio-visual displays 
owned or controlled by airports to be subject to the captioning 
requirement. Individual commenters, however, favor a blanket 
requirement that captioning be enabled on all televisions throughout 
the airport. Given the non-burdensome nature of this requirement, the 
Department proposed a thirty-day implementation period in the NPRM. All 
but one of the nine commenters that submitted comments on this subject 
agree that 30 days is a sufficient implementation period for this 
requirement, while one airport commenter suggests a 90 to 120 day 
implementation period for larger airports with more televisions.
    The Department sought comment on whether it should require U.S. 
airports to display messages and pages broadcast over public address 
systems on video monitors so that persons who are deaf or hard-of-
hearing do not miss important information available to others at an 
airport. The Department also sought comment on whether visual display 
of information announced over the public address system is the best 
means to disseminate airport-related announcements to passengers with 
hearing impairments. Some airports and airport organizations commented 
that while displaying messages on video monitors is one method of 
providing information to passengers with a hearing impairment, the 
Department should not adopt a rule specifically requiring that this 
method be used. Individual commenters suggest, however, that in 
addition to the use of video monitors to communicate with individuals 
with a hearing impairment throughout the airport, the Department could 
require airports to install hearing loops at ticket counters and in the 
gate areas of airports and LED screens reserved for the display of 
essential announcements.
    The Department also sought comment as to whether it should 
establish a performance standard for providing information to 
individuals with hearing impairments rather than require airports to 
use a particular medium (e.g., video monitors, wireless pagers, 
erasable boards). Some airport and airport organization commenters 
support the adoption of performance standards rather than specific 
requirements, in order to allow airports the flexibility to determine 
the most effective way to communicate with passengers and to account 
for developing technologies.
    The Department also asked interested persons to comment on whether 
the Department should simply require that airports provide the text of 
the announcements made over the public address system promptly or 
should instead require that there be simultaneous visual transmission 
of the information. While one airport organization supports providing 
the text of the announcement promptly, as the display of the text 
usually closely follows announcements made over public address systems, 
a disability rights organization supports simultaneous transmission of 
the information through public information displays.
    Finally, the Department sought comment on whether all announcements 
made through the public address system should be displayed in a manner 
that is accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers, or only those 
announcements that are essential. The Department also sought comment on 
the amount of time and the cost involved in establishing such a system. 
Individual commenters support displaying all announcements in a manner 
accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers, with one commenter 
suggesting that essential messages should be given priority over non-
essential messages. Airports and airport associations advocate that 
only essential messages be displayed in an accessible manner so as not 
to overwhelm a technology system and dilute the information that 
passengers need. With respect to the amount of time and cost involved 
in establishing such a system, one individual commenter and one

[[Page 46511]]

disability organization suggest that 30 days would be a sufficient 
amount of time for airports to establish the system, while an airport 
commenter contends that 30 days is too short a time period to establish 
such a system and suggests a two-year implementation time period. 
Furthermore, one airport commenter states that it would cost $100,000 
to establish such a system as long as the capability exists in the 
airport's visual display software. The airport further explains that 
the cost to establish such a system would be difficult to determine if 
the airport didn't have software capable of displaying visual pages.

DOT's Response

    After carefully considering the comments the Department received on 
this subject, we have decided to adopt the proposed language in the 
NPRM, which closely follows the current requirements that apply to U.S. 
and foreign carriers in part 382. As such, airport operators will be 
required to enable or ensure high-contrast captioning at all times on 
televisions and other audio-visual displays capable of displaying 
captions located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other 
passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common 
area of the terminal to which passengers have access. In the case of 
televisions and other audio-visual displays located in space leased by 
a shop or restaurant, the airport operator is obligated to ensure by 
contract or other means that the shop or restaurant enables the 
captioning feature on its televisions and other audio-visual displays 
in a manner that meets this obligation.
    The Department decided to adopt the language in the NPRM reasoning 
that the adoption of a rule requiring airports to enable the captioning 
feature is not a costly or otherwise onerous requirement as most 
televisions currently in use at U.S. airports have captioning 
capabilities. Notwithstanding this, because the Department received 
such a limited number of comments with respect to its questions 
regarding how to best provide information to deaf and hard-of-hearing 
passengers in airports, we have decided not to impose any new 
requirements on this subject that exceed the requirements that 
currently exist with respect to U.S. and foreign air carriers in part 
382.

Boarding Lifts for Aircraft

    The Department sought comment as to whether it should require U.S. 
airport operators to negotiate in good faith with foreign carriers to 
ensure that ramps or mechanical lifts are available for enplaning and 
deplaning passengers with disabilities.

Comments

    We received one comment from an airport organization in response to 
our inquiry. This commenter supports airports negotiating with foreign 
carriers to ensure the availability of lifts. The organization reasons 
that this requirement would ensure that all parties would be held 
accountable for providing boarding assistance to passengers.
    With respect to our last inquiry, whether the Department should 
require airports to purchase additional lifts, the only comment we 
received was from an airport that opposes adopting such a requirement 
because of the potential financial impact it could have on airports.

DOT's Response

    The Department has considered the two comments received with 
respect to the questions it posed regarding boarding lifts for 
aircraft. The Department has decided to adopt the proposed language in 
the NPRM, which requires airports to negotiate with foreign carriers, 
in addition to U.S. carriers, to ensure the provision of lifts, ramps 
and other devices used for boarding and deplaning where level-entry 
boarding is not available. This requirement only imposes the same 
requirement for foreign carriers that has existed for airport operators 
with respect to U.S. carriers. Due to the lack of commentary from the 
public, the Department has decided to refrain from imposing additional 
requirements on airports to purchase additional lifts.

Regulatory Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive 
Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This action has been determined not to be significant under 
Executive Order 12866 and the Department's Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures. It has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget in accordance with Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 
13563.
    Executive Order 13563 directs agencies to propose or adopt a 
regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify 
its costs, tailor the regulation to impose the least burden on society 
consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives, and in choosing 
among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that 
maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13563 recognizes that some 
benefits and costs are difficult to quantify and provides that, where 
appropriate and permitted by law, agencies may consider and discuss 
qualitatively values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, 
including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.
    Of the three provisions in the final rule, the only element of the 
final rule that will involve a substantial cost to airports is the 
requirement that service animal relief areas for service animals be 
located inside the sterile area of each terminal. The relief area 
requirement in the final rule promotes the aforementioned qualitative 
values by ensuring equal access to air transportation by passengers 
with disabilities traveling with services animals. In the Department's 
view, the non-quantifiable benefits associated with requiring at least 
one relief area per airport terminal and requiring this service animal 
relief area be in the sterile area of the airport with limited 
exceptions is wholly consistent with the ACAA's mandate to eliminate 
discrimination against individuals with disabilities in air 
transportation.
    The primary non-quantifiable benefit to a passenger with a 
disability traveling with a service animal is that he or she does not 
have to leave the sterile area of the terminal to access the airport's 
relief area. While the Department does not have sufficient information 
to quantify the value of time savings associated with requiring that 
service animal relief areas be located in the sterile area of the 
airport, a number of commenters to the NPRM commented that they were 
often forced to create itineraries with longer layover times because of 
the amount of time it takes for passengers with a disability to locate 
service animal relief areas and the amount of time it takes to exit the 
sterile area, relieve a service animal, and pass through security 
again. The Department recognizes that individuals with disabilities may 
be prevented from visiting service animal relief areas located outside 
the sterile area of an airport during a layover. Furthermore, travelers 
with disabilities that have a layover may not be able to access 
landside service animal relief areas due to time constraints and 
disability-related reasons. The new requirement in the rule requiring 
airports to place a relief area in the sterile area of each terminal

[[Page 46512]]

of the airport will allow such travelers access to service animal 
relief areas.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ See the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) 
Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design and 
Construction, May of 2011. http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/airport_security_design_guidelines.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other non-quantifiable benefits associated with locating service 
animal relief areas in the sterile area of each airport terminal 
include the ability for passengers to consider more flight options. 
Those passengers previously limited to selecting itineraries with 
extended layover periods may consider travel itineraries with shorter 
layover times once service animal relief areas are located in the 
sterile area of an airport. In addition, locating service animal relief 
areas in the sterile area would promote independence among those 
passengers accompanied by service animals as they may be able to 
independently locate service animal relief areas without relying on the 
assistance of escorts, which are now commonly used to assist passengers 
traveling with service animals in traversing through the airports and 
exiting and reentering the sterile area during a layover. Locating 
service animal relief areas in the sterile area will also reduce the 
amount of effort and discomfort experienced by individuals with 
disabilities when trying to relieve their service animals during a 
layover.
    The final rule also offers the benefits of improved convenience to 
non-disabled persons accompanied by an animal or pet while at the 
airport. Although these benefits are not encompassed by the rule's 
purpose, individuals traveling with pets or security dogs trained to 
detect security threats may also find it convenient to use service 
animal relief areas located in the secure area of the airport.
    As stated above, the final regulatory assessment estimates that 
there will be some cost for airports to implement the service animal 
relief area requirements in the final rule. The Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) lists 387 airports in the United States. Of these, 
29 are large hubs, 35 are medium hubs, 74 are small hubs, and 249 are 
non-hubs, which are defined as having more than 10,000 passenger 
enplanements per year but less than 0.05% of the overall total 
enplanements. As we explained in the NPRM, there is no consistent 
method for assigning a number of terminals to an airport given the 
widely divergent plans for airports. Notwithstanding, we were able to 
use the airport category defined by the FAA in terms of the number of 
enplanements to estimate the number of terminals in a given airport. 
Based on this system, we assume that large hubs have an average of 7 
terminals; medium hubs average 5 terminals, small hubs average 3 
terminals, and non-hubs average 1 terminal per airport. As a result, we 
estimate that 849 terminals would be affected by this service animal 
relief requirement in the final rule. We do note that this is a high 
estimation given that some airports may have already installed service 
animal relief areas within the sterile area of the airport; however, 
because most service animal relief areas currently reside outside of 
the sterile area, we expect that most of these terminals would be 
impacted by the requirements in the final rule.
    The final regulatory assessment estimates that the service animal 
relief area requirements will cost those 387 airports affected by the 
rule approximately $88.1 million over 20 years, discounted at 7%. As 
explained above, the total cost of installing service animal relief 
areas varies by airport as the cost incurred by an airport will depend 
upon the number of terminals in the airport. This cost estimate, 
however, considers the cost of construction and maintenance of service 
animal relief areas and the calculation of the amount of foregone rent 
that airports may forfeit by using space in an airport terminal for 
service animal relief areas that, conceivably, would have been rented 
out to restaurants or other vendors. We note that the cost of foregone 
rent and construction materials is also dependent upon airport size as 
rent space and materials appear to be more expensive at larger 
airports. This cost estimate also factors in the cost incurred by 
airports from consulting with service animal training organizations on 
the design, dimensions, materials, maintenance, and location of service 
animal relief areas.
    While the final regulatory assessment estimates that there will be 
some cost for airports to implement the service animal relief area 
requirements in the final rule, the boarding lift requirement and the 
captioning requirement are expected to have minimal financial impact on 
airports. The requirements in the final rule related to lifts will not 
require airports to purchase additional lifts because the airports with 
10,000 or more enplanements will already have lifts available as a 
result of the existing agreements between airports and U.S. carriers 
requiring the availability of lifts at those airports.
    There is, however, a cost associated with the enabling of 
captioning on airport-controlled televisions. The estimated total 
present value over 20 years to enable captioning on television is 
$410,840, discounted at 7%. The respective annualized value is $38,780. 
This figure is based on the assumption that, initially, captioning will 
need to be enabled on 100% of airport-controlled televisions; in 
subsequent years, captioning will only need to be reactivated on 10% 
per annum of those television in which captioning was initially 
activated.

B. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 (``Federalism''). This 
final rule does not impose any regulation that: (1) Has substantial 
direct effects on the States, the relationship between the national 
government and the States, or the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government; or (2) imposes 
substantial direct compliance costs on States and local governments. 
Therefore, the consultation and funding requirements of Executive Order 
13132 do not apply.

C. Executive Order 13084

    This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in Executive Order 13175 (``Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments''). The funding and 
consultation requirements of Executive Order 13084 do not apply because 
this final rule does not significantly or uniquely affect the 
communities of the Indian tribal governments and does not impose 
substantial direct compliance costs.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as amended by 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 
1996), requires an agency to review regulations to assess their impact 
on small entities, including small businesses, small nonprofit 
organizations and small governmental jurisdictions. Privately owned 
airports with annual revenues that do not exceed $32.5 million are 
considered small businesses by the size standards created by the Small 
Business Administration. Furthermore, publicly owned airports are 
categorized as small entities if they are owned by a jurisdiction with 
fewer than 50,000 inhabitants. In light of this standard, we estimate 
that approximately 55 of the 387 airports affected by the final rule 
are considered small entities. Therefore, the Department has determined 
that this rule will have an impact on some small entities. However, the 
Department has determined that the impact on entities

[[Page 46513]]

affected by the rule will not be significant. We estimate that the cost 
of constructing and maintaining service animal relief areas at those 55 
airports, assuming that those airports contain only 1 terminal, is 
approximately $4 million over 20 years at a 7% discount rate. 
Considering that the combined annual revenue of small-hub and non-hub 
airports in 2013 alone was $2.4 billion, the costs associated with this 
rule will not be significant.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), a Federal agency 
may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, 
a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number 
assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (Pub. L. 104-13, 
44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). The Department may not impose a penalty on 
persons for violating information collection requirements when an 
information collection required to have a current OMB control number 
does not have one.
    This final rule does not adopt any new information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Department has determined that the requirements of Title II of 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 do not apply to this notice.

G. National Environmental Policy Act

    The Department has analyzed the environmental impacts of this 
proposed action pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has determined that it is 
categorically excluded pursuant to DOT Order 5610.1C, Procedures for 
Considering Environmental Impacts (44 FR 56420, Oct. 1, 1979). 
Categorical exclusions are actions identified in an agency's NEPA 
implementing procedures that do not normally have a significant impact 
on the environment and therefore do not require either an environmental 
assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS). See 40 CFR 
1508.4. In analyzing the applicability of a categorical exclusion, the 
agency must also consider whether extraordinary circumstances are 
present that would warrant the preparation of an EA or EIS. Id. 
Paragraph 3.c.6.i of DOT Order 5610.1C categorically excludes 
``[a]ctions relating to consumer protection, including regulations.'' 
The purpose of this rulemaking to amend the Department's regulations 
implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to require service 
animal relief areas and captioning of televisions and audio-visual 
displays. The Department does not anticipate any environmental impacts, 
and there are no extraordinary circumstances present in connection with 
this rulemaking.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 27

    Airports, Civil rights, Individuals with disabilities, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of 
Transportation is amending 49 CFR part 27 as follows:

PART 27--NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY IN PROGRAMS 
OR ACTIVITIES RECEIVING FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

0
1. The authority citation for Part 27 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 794); sec. 16(a) and (d) of the Federal Transit 
Act of 1964, as amended (49 U.S.C. 5310(a) and (f); sec. 165(b) of 
the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, as amended (23 U.S.C. 142 nt.).


0
2. In Sec.  27.3, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  27.3  Applicability.

* * * * *
    (b) Design, construction, or alteration of buildings or other fixed 
facilities by public entities subject to part 37 of this title shall be 
in conformance with appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified 
by appendix A to part 37 of this title. All other entities subject to 
section 504 shall design, construct, or alter buildings, or other fixed 
facilities, in conformance with appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, 
as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title.

0
3. In Sec.  27.71, paragraphs (h) and (i) are added to read as follows:


Sec.  27.71  Airport facilities.

* * * * *
    (h) Service animal relief areas. Each airport with 10,000 or more 
annual enplanements shall cooperate with airlines that own, lease, or 
control terminal facilities at that airport to provide wheelchair 
accessible animal relief areas for service animals that accompany 
passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at the airport subject to 
the following requirements:
    (1) Airports must consult with one or more service animal training 
organizations regarding the design, dimensions, materials and 
maintenance of service animal relief areas;
    (2) Airports must establish at least one relief area in each 
airport terminal;
    (3) Airports must establish the relief area required by paragrah 
(h)(2) of this section in the sterile area of each airport terminal 
unless:
    (i) The Transportation Security Administration prohibits the 
airport from locating a relief area in the sterile area, or
    (ii) A service animal training organization, the airport, and the 
carriers in the terminal in which the relief area will be located agree 
that a relief area would be better placed outside the terminal's 
sterile area. In that event, the airport must retain documentation 
evidencing the recommendation that the relief area be located outside 
of the sterile area; and
    (4) To the extent airports have established service animal relief 
areas prior to the effective date of this paragraph:
    (i) Airports that have not consulted with a service animal training 
organization shall consult with one or more such organizations 
regarding the sufficiency of all existing service animal relief areas,
    (ii) Airports shall meet the requirements of this section August 4, 
2016.
    (i) High-contrast captioning (captioning that is at least as easy 
to read as white letters on a consistent black background) on 
television and audio-visual displays. This paragraph applies to 
airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements.
    (1) Airport operators must enable or ensure high-contrast 
captioning at all times on all televisions and other audio-visual 
displays that are capable of displaying captions and that are located 
in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other passenger lounge 
provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common area of the 
terminal to which any passengers have access and that are owned, 
leased, or controlled by the airport.
    (2) With respect to any televisions and other audio-visual displays 
located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other 
passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common 
area of the terminal to which any passengers have access that provide 
passengers with safety briefings, information, or entertainment that do 
not have high-contrast captioning capability, an airport operator must 
replace or ensure the replacement of these devices with equipment that 
does have such capability whenever such equipment is replaced in the 
normal course of operations and/or whenever areas of the terminal in 
which such

[[Page 46514]]

equipment is located undergo substantial renovation or expansion.
    (3) If an airport installs new televisions and other audio-visual 
displays for passenger safety briefings, information, or entertainment 
on or after October 5, 2015, such equipment must have high-contrast 
captioning capability.
* * * * *

0
4. Revise Sec.  27.72 to read as follows:


Sec.  27.72  Boarding assistance for aircraft.

    (a) This section applies to airports with 10,000 or more annual 
enplanements.
    (b) Airports shall, in cooperation with carriers serving the 
airports, provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities 
using mechanical lifts, ramps, or other devices that do not require 
employees to lift or carry passengers up stairs. This section applies 
to all aircraft with a passenger capacity of 19 or more passenger 
seats, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. Paragraph 
(c) of this section applies to U.S. carriers and paragraph (d) of this 
section applies to foreign carriers.
    (c) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each 
U.S. carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use of 
boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical 
lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-
entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator must have 
a written, signed agreement with each U.S. carrier allocating 
responsibility for meeting the boarding and deplaning assistance 
requirements of this section between or among the parties. The 
agreement shall be made available, on request, to representatives of 
the Department of Transportation.
    (1) All airport operators and U.S. carriers involved are jointly 
and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of 
the agreement.
    (2) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other 
accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition.
    (d) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each 
foreign carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use 
of boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical 
lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-
entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator shall, by 
no later than November 3, 2015, sign a written agreement with the 
foreign carrier allocating responsibility for meeting the boarding and 
deplaning assistance requirements of this section between or among the 
parties. The agreement shall be made available, on request, to 
representatives of the Department of Transportation.
    (1) The agreement shall provide that all actions necessary to 
ensure accessible boarding and deplaning for passengers with 
disabilities are completed as soon as practicable, but no later than 
December 3, 2015.
    (2) All airport operators and foreign carriers involved are jointly 
and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of 
the agreement.
    (3) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other 
accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition.
    (e) Boarding assistance agreements required in paragraphs (c) and 
(d) of this section are not required to apply to the following 
situations:
    (1) Access to float planes;
    (2) Access to the following 19-seat capacity aircraft models: The 
Fairchild Metro, the Jetstream 31 and 32, the Beech 1900 (C and D 
models), and the Embraer EMB-120;
    (3) Access to any other aircraft model determined by the Department 
of Transportation to be unsuitable for boarding and deplaning 
assistance by lift, ramp, or other suitable device. The Department will 
make such a determination if it concludes that--
    (i) No existing boarding and deplaning assistance device on the 
market will accommodate the aircraft without significant risk of 
serious damage to the aircraft or injury to passengers or employees, or
    (ii) Internal barriers are present in the aircraft that would 
preclude passengers who use a boarding or aisle chair from reaching a 
non-exit row seat.
    (f) When level-entry boarding and deplaning assistance is not 
required to be provided under paragraph (e) of this section, or cannot 
be provided as required by paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section 
(e.g., because of mechanical problems with a lift), boarding assistance 
shall be provided by any available means to which the passenger 
consents. However, hand-carrying (i.e., directly picking up the 
passenger's body in the arms of one or more carrier personnel to effect 
a level change the passenger needs to enter or leave the aircraft) must 
never be used, even if the passenger consents, unless this is the only 
way of evacuating the individual in the event of an emergency.
    (g) In the event that airport personnel are involved in providing 
boarding assistance, the airport shall ensure that they are trained to 
proficiency in the use of the boarding assistance equipment used at the 
airport and appropriate boarding assistance procedures that safeguard 
the safety and dignity of passengers.

    Issued this day of July 29, 2015, in Washington, DC.
Anthony R. Foxx,
Secretary of Transportation.
[FR Doc. 2015-19078 Filed 8-4-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P