Recap by: Laura Thul Penza of Penza Bailey Architects
The Mid-Atlantic ADA Update is always educational thanks to Marian Vessels, Director of Mid-Atlantic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center, TransCen, Inc., the staff and presenters that helped to make this 2-day conference so informative. A brief report requires a bit of ‘alphabet soup,’ but I’ll try to keep it limited.
The 2010 ADA Standards are applicable for construction beginning March 15, 2012. All architects and designers should certainly know the 2010 ADA Standards by now (issued September 15, 2010), and should keep abreast of updates.
The Federal Panel Presentation included Jim Pecht, US Access Board, Joyce Walker-Jones, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), John Day, Federal Transit Authority, and Sally Conway, US Dept. of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division. Apparently there is some, albeit slow, movement towards Uniform Building Accessibility Standards (UFAS) coordination with the ADA. UFAS are design requirements developed under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for facilities designed, built, or altered with Federal funds. For now, however, we must continue to refer to 1984 UFAS for federally funded projects.
The US Access Board is currently working on classroom acoustics and approximately sixty informational sheets – with animations – for architects and designers. We also learned that 25,742 discriminatory charges were actually filed in FY2011 (of 99,947 initiated), further emphasizing the importance of understanding this regulation.
Jim Bostrom, DOJ Deputy Chief Disability Rights Section, explained that the 2010 ADA Standards is a ‘kit of parts’ and each section must be viewed with other sections, as well as scoping. This can be frustrating for those unfamiliar with the regulations. For example, the diagram indicating the location of toilet paper dispensers must also be cross-referenced with the requirements of grab bar clearances. Referencing only one, or the other, would result in a non-compliant (non-functioning) design. In addition to cross-referencing within the ADA Standards, sections of the International Building Code (IBC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are referenced. Although the 2000 and 2003 IBC are referenced, we must compare all with current codes.
Just a few ADA update discussions:
- Accessible Means of Egress applies to new construction, including platform lifts requiring standby power.
- Detectable Warnings have been reserved in the 2010 ADA Standards, however the Dept. of Transportation (DPT) still requires them.
- Caution regarding reduced quantities, such as accessible stadium seating, correctional rooms and assistive listening devices – reducing existing facilities may diminish the Safe Harbor protection.
- Clarification regarding clustered single-user toilet rooms – 2010 ADA Standards indicate ‘no more than 50%’ are required to be accessible, however Mr. Bostrom indicated that the intent of the ADA Board was ‘at least 50%’ be accessible.
Generally, Maria Roth, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), emphasized that we should all be more careful about discrimination. She suggested that we stop using terms such as ‘special needs,’ ‘vulnerable,’ and ‘at risk.’ She also suggested that we all pay attention to space weather, to be more prepared for potential power outages, and also have an emergency plan accessible to all.