Part I: ADA Application and Scoping

Chapter 1: Application and Administration

This chapter states general principles that recognize the purpose of the guidelines (101), provisions for adults and children (102), equivalent facilitation (103), conventions (104), referenced standards (105), and definitions (106). Revisions have been made in the final rule to the sections covering conventions, referenced standards, and definitions.

104 Conventions

Section 104.1 notes that all dimensions not stated as a "maximum" or "minimum" are absolute and that all dimensions are "subject to conventional industry tolerances." Conventional industry tolerances recognized by this provision include those for field conditions and those that may be a necessary consequence of a particular manufacturing process. In the final rule, the Board has limited this provision so that it does not apply to requirements where a range is provided since the specified range offers adequate tolerances. Section 104.2 addresses rounding in the case of percentages where fractions result.

Comment. Commenters recommended that a statement be added indicating that the figures in the guidelines are provided for information purposes only, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

Response. A provision has been added in the final rule which states that the figures contained in this document "are provided for informational purposes only" (104.3). This recognizes that all requirements in the guidelines are contained in text and that the figures are provided to illustrate the text-based specifications. Should a figure be interpreted differently from the text, the text governs.

105 Referenced Standards

Section 105 lists the industry standards referenced in the guidelines. It also clarifies that where there is a difference between a provision of the guidelines and the referenced standards, the provision of the guidelines applies. The final rule includes information on where these referenced standards can be obtained or inspected. The Board also has clarified in this section where in the guidelines each standard is referenced.

Standards referenced in the final rule include those issued by the:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) for power operated and power assisted doors (105.2.1)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for various elevators and platform lifts (105.2.2)
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for use zones, play equipment, and accessible surfaces at play areas (105.2.3)
  • International Code Council (ICC), whose International Building Code is referenced with respect to provisions for means of egress and railings (105.2.4)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for fire alarms (105.2.5)

The Board has revised the rule to reference the most recent editions of the standards and addenda. The final rule includes the addition of ASTM standards and the International Building Code (IBC). Guidelines for play areas previously issued by the Board, which reference ASTM criteria for use zone and accessible surfaces in play areas, have been incorporated into the final rule. Provisions in the guidelines for accessible means of egress have been replaced by references to corresponding requirements in the IBC.

Information on the standards referenced in this rule is available on the Board’s website at www.access-board.gov and in advisory notes.

106 Definitions

Various defined terms and definitions have been revised, removed, or added in the final rule. The following definitions have been removed as unnecessary, in most cases due to changes in certain scoping or technical requirements: "accessible route," "area of refuge," "automatic door," "destination-oriented elevator," "ground floor," "occupiable," "power-assisted door," "sign," and "wheelchair." New definitions included in the final rule address: "assistive listening system," "equipment," "key station," and "occupant load." Definitions contained in the guidelines for recreation facilities and play areas are included in the final rule. Definitions that have been revised include: "assembly area," "common use," "mezzanine," "residential dwelling unit," "transient lodging," "vehicular way," and "walk."

Comment. It was suggested that the definition of "assembly area" should more clearly address the types of facilities covered. The definition’s reference to spaces used "for the consumption of food and drink" may be interpreted as applying to restaurants generally. The definition should also be revised, consistent with building codes, to apply to assembly areas that comprise only a portion of a facility.

Response. The definition of "assembly area" has been revised to include "a building, facility, or portion thereof used for the purpose of entertainment, educational or civic gatherings or similar purposes." An illustrative list of examples, previously provided in the scoping provision (221), has been relocated to this definition.

Comment. Consistent with the original ADAAG, the proposed rule defined "common use," in part, as spaces or elements "made available for a restricted group of people." Comments considered the reference to "restricted" as a source of confusion and misinterpretation. In addition, it was suggested that "group" be replaced by a specific number.

Response. As revised, the definition of "common use" refers to "interior or exterior circulation paths, rooms, spaces, or elements that are not for public use and are made available for the shared use of two or more people."

Comment. Commenters suggested that the definition for "mezzanine" should be revised for consistency with model building codes, including the IBC.

Response. "Mezzanine" is now defined by the same definition used in the IBC: "An intermediate level or levels between the floor and ceiling of any story with an aggregate floor area of not more than one-third of the area of the room or space in which the level or levels are located." The Board has included clarification that mezzanines are elevated high enough to accommodate human occupancy on the floor below.

Comment. Commenters considered it important that the definitions for "dwelling unit" and "transient lodging" be revised and made mutually exclusive to avoid the confusion of potentially overlapping terms. In particular, the hotel and motel industry was concerned about requirements for dwelling units being misapplied to transient lodging facilities.

Response. In the final rule, the definitions for "dwelling unit" and "transient lodging" have been clarified and made mutually exclusive. The guidelines now use the term "residential dwelling unit," which is defined as "a unit intended to be used as a residence, that is primarily long-term in nature." This definition specifically excludes transient lodging, as well as medical care and long-term care facilities and detention and correctional facilities. "Transient lodging" has been revised as applying to any facility "containing one or more guest room(s) for sleeping that provides accommodations that are primarily short-term in nature." The term excludes residential dwelling units, among other facility types. In addition, language exempting bed-and-breakfast type facilities with no more than five rooms has been relocated to this definition from the scoping provision for transient lodging in section 224.

ADA Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements

This section discusses comments and changes to scoping provisions for facilities covered by the ADA. These provisions specify which elements and spaces are required to be accessible according to various technical requirements contained in chapters 3 through 10.

Throughout this chapter and the rest of the document, the term "accessible" has been replaced with more precise references to applicable criteria in the guidelines. For example, instead of referring to "accessible" spaces of one type or another, the guidelines now refer to spaces "complying with" the relevant technical criteria that make them accessible. This was done for greater precision and clarity.

201 Application

This section provides that these guidelines apply to the design, construction, or alteration of covered facilities. The requirements apply to both permanent and temporary structures. No substantive changes have been made to this section.

Comment. In the proposed rule, the term "fixed" had been removed as a modifier of certain elements covered by the guidelines, such as tables and storage. This was removed, along with references to elements that are "built-in." Some comments argued that this change could be interpreted as broadening the scope of the guidelines to cover elements that are not fixed or built-in.

Response. References to "fixed" and "built-in" were removed for editorial purposes of clarity and consistency. While the scope of the guidelines does not extend to elements that are not fixed or built-in, the Board believes that such clarification can be appropriately addressed in the regulations that implement the enforceable standards based on the Board’s guidelines.

202 Existing Buildings and Facilities

Section 202 establishes the scope and application of the guidelines in the case of alterations or additions to existing facilities. Section 202.3 states that each altered element or space is required to meet the applicable scoping provisions of Chapter 2. There are three exceptions to this requirement, which have been revised for clarity or added in the final rule. Criteria for alterations affecting primary function areas (202.4) and historic facilities (202.5) are also provided. In the final rule, the provision for primary function areas includes a new exception for residential facilities.

Comment. An exception in the proposed rule (202.3, Exception 1) stated that altered elements and spaces are not required to be on accessible routes. This was intended to clarify that an accessible route to an altered space or element does not have to be provided as part of the work, unless the alteration is to a primary function area covered by 202.4. Comments pointed out that while this exception was intended to cover accessible routes to an altered space, as worded it would also exempt accessible routes within an altered space.

Response. The Board did not intend to exempt requirements for accessible routes within spaces that are altered. The scope of this exception has been limited so that it applies only where elements and spaces are altered, but the circulation path to them is not. Consistent with the proposed rule, this exception is not permitted for alterations to primary function areas, which are required to be connected by an accessible path of travel (unless the cost of providing such a path is "disproportionate" to the overall alteration cost).

A second exception notes that compliance is required unless it is technically infeasible, in which case compliance is required to the maximum extent feasible (202.3, Exception 2). In the proposed rule, this exception contained clarifying language related to this provision that has been recast as an advisory note in the final rule.

A third exception has been added in the final rule for residential facilities (202.3, Exception 3). This exception exempts from coverage dwelling units not required to be accessible under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,15 which requires that federally funded programs and services, including those pertaining to housing, be accessible to persons with disabilities. In finalizing the rule, the Board has reconciled housing requirements with those of other Federal regulations, as discussed below in the scoping section on residential dwelling units (233). Regulations issued under title II of the ADA by DOJ and HUD under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require each program or activity conducted by a covered entity or a program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities when the program or activity is viewed in its entirety. Meeting these requirements may involve retrofit of existing facilities as part of a transition plan for compliance. Dwelling units that are accessible or that are to be made accessible under the requirements of the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act are required to comply with the requirements of section 202 when altered; other dwelling units are exempt under the new exception.

Comment. Commenters expressed concern that the replacement of telephones would trigger more extensive alterations, such as a requirement to lower a telephone installed at 54 inches (currently permitted by ADAAG) to 48 inches.

Response. Where elements are altered or replaced they must comply with these guidelines. However, in some cases the altered element is part of a larger element which is itself not altered. For example, pay telephone providers sometimes replace existing telephones with new telephones and, as part of the telephone replacement project, they do not replace or alter the existing telephone enclosures or pedestals. The new telephones, when replaced, must provide a volume control in compliance with section 704.3 that provides up to 20 decibels of gain; original ADAAG 4.31.5(2) only required 18 decibels of gain. However, the existing unaltered telephone enclosures or pedestals need not be lowered so that the telephones comply with the new 48 inch reach requirement established in section 308. Similarly, if a narrow door is replaced, the doorway need not be widened as a consequence of the door replacement. However, if new operating hardware is provided for the door, the hardware must comply with section 404.2.7.

Comment. Commenters indicated that it is common practice to reduce the number of existing telephones in telephone banks in order to reconcile the supply of pay telephones with the demand; noting also an overall decrease in the demand for pay telephones. The comments requested clarification as to whether the removal of an inaccessible pay telephone would be an alteration that would trigger a requirement to lower an adjacent wheelchair accessible pay telephone from 54 inches (currently permitted by ADAAG) to 48 inches.

Response. Inaccessible pay telephones may be removed without triggering requirements for lowering adjacent wheelchair accessible pay telephones, provided that the telephone enclosure or pedestal is not altered when telephones are removed.

Alterations to areas containing a primary function must include an accessible path of travel to the altered area unless it is disproportionate in cost or scope (202.4). This provision is intended to ensure that such areas, when altered, are on an accessible route and are served by accessible rest rooms, telephones, and drinking fountains. Requirements specific to altered residential dwelling units in section 233.3 effectively substitute for this provision by ensuring an accessible route to those dwelling units required to comply as part of an alteration. For consistency and clarity, the Board has exempted residential dwelling units from the requirements for altered primary function areas.

Comment. Comments from the historic preservation community requested that information be provided on the consultation procedures to be followed when applying the exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities in section 202.5. They also requested that the specific language for the exceptions for accessible routes, entrances, and toilet facilities be included in section 202.5, instead of in the various scoping provisions for those elements. In addition, they requested that information be provided on the obligation of public entities that operate historic preservation programs to achieve program accessibility under the DOJ regulations.

Response. The final rule includes advisory information in section 202.5 on the consultation procedures to be followed when applying the exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities. This information derives from advisory information in the original ADAAG (section 4.1.7). When an entity believes that compliance with the requirements for accessible routes, entrances, or toilet facilities would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the entity should consult with its State Historic Preservation Officer. If the State Historic Preservation Officer agrees that compliance with the requirements for a specific element would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, use of the exception for that element is permitted. The advisory note to section 202.5 also references the scoping provisions for accessible routes, entrances, and toilet facilities where the specific language for the exceptions for qualified historic buildings and facilities are found. Information has also been included in the advisory note to section 202.5 on the obligation of public entities that operate historic preservation programs to achieve program accessibility under the DOJ regulations.

203 General Exceptions

Certain spaces are generally exempt from the guidelines, including construction sites (203.2), raised areas (203.3), limited access spaces (203.4), machinery spaces (203.5), single occupant structures (203.6), certain areas within detention and correctional facilities (203.7) and residential facilities (203.8), employee work areas (203.9), and various spaces within recreation and sports facilities (203.10 through 203.14). These provisions have been editorially revised and renumbered in the final rule. Specifically, clarification has been added that exempt spaces "are not required to comply with these requirements or to be served by an accessible route," which is more precise than the phrase in the proposed rule that such spaces "are not required to be accessible." This is part of a global editorial revision to replace the term "accessible" throughout the text with more specific language. In addition, the reference in the exception at 203.5 to spaces frequented only by service personnel has been changed from "equipment spaces" to "machinery spaces," which was considered a more specific and accurate reference to the type of spaces covered by this exception. The Board’s guidelines for recreation facilities contain exceptions for certain limited spaces within recreation and sports facilities that have been incorporated into the final rule. These exceptions address raised refereeing, judging, and scoring areas (203.10), water slides (203.11), animal containment areas (203.12), raised boxing and wrestling rings (203.13), and diving boards and platforms (203.14).

Substantive changes are made to the exceptions for limited access spaces and employee work areas. The exception at 203.4 covers limited access spaces, such as those accessed by ladders, catwalks, crawl spaces, or very narrow passageways. A reference to "tunnels" has been removed from this list, as this term could apply to spaces intended for coverage, such as underground connections between buildings and pedestrian connections required to be accessible in provisions for accessible routes (206.4.3).

203.9 Employee Work Areas

Provisions for employee work areas in 203.9 require that accessible routes and accessible means of egress connect with employee work areas so that persons with disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the work area. Employee work areas are also subject to requirements that facilitate the provision of visual alarms. Specifically, employee work areas must meet accessibility requirements for:

  • circulation paths for common use within the area, except for those that are an integral part of equipment or that are located in work areas that are relatively small (i.e., less than 1,000 square feet) or fully exposed to the weather (206.2.8)
  • means of egress (207.1)
  • wiring systems to support later installation of visual alarms as needed where work areas have audible fire alarm coverage (215.2)
  • There are limitations on the application of these requirements. Small work areas (i.e., less than 300 square feet in area) that need to be elevated at least seven inches due to the function of the space are not required to comply with any of these requirements. In addition, other provisions in section 203 exempt spaces or structures that may function as work areas, such as raised areas, limited access spaces, machinery spaces, and single occupant structures (203.3 to 203.6). Circulation paths within work areas that are not fully exempt from compliance are required to comply with specifications for accessible routes, but exceptions are provided for route widths and handrails in certain instances.

This section differs from the proposed rule, which required a connecting accessible route to work areas for approach, entry, and exit, but which did not specifically address circulation paths within them or requirements for accessible means of egress. In addition, the proposed rule required visual alarms in employee work areas served by audible alarms.

Access to employee work areas was the subject of considerable discussion and a host of questions posed by the Board in the proposed rule. The issues centered on whether, and to what degree, access should be expanded within such areas. The original ADAAG required access to, but not fully within, employee work areas since title I of the ADA generally treats access for employees with disabilities as an individual accommodation handled on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, the original guidelines distinguished spaces used only as employee work areas from public use and common use spaces, which are fully subject to access requirements. In effect, requirements in ADAAG stopped at the entry to work areas by requiring only that such spaces be on an accessible route so that persons with disabilities could approach, enter, and exit the space. Maneuvering space, including wheelchair turning space, was not required within the work area, and elements within used only by employees as part of their job responsibilities were not required to be accessible. Nor was access required to individual work stations within a work area.

The ADAAG Review Advisory Committee recommended that ADAAG be changed to require an accessible route to each "individual work station" instead of to "work areas." Other than the connecting route, work stations would not be required to be accessible. The advisory committee recommended this change for consistency with model building codes which, unlike ADAAG, do not provide a similar exception for work areas. Building and fire codes already require connecting paths of travel to work stations for purposes of emergency egress. In the advisory committee’s view, this aspect of the model building codes, as well as general exceptions for equipment and other spaces in section 203, would serve to limit the overall impact of this change. Further, the requirement for an "accessible route" to individual work stations, as opposed to access for "approach, entry, and exit" to work areas, was considered clearer and more easily interpreted.

The Board, while committed to harmonizing the ADAAG requirements with the requirements of the model codes, was concerned about whether such a requirement would be workable in all employment settings. Consequently, the Board posed several questions in the proposed rule on the appropriateness and impact of requiring an accessible route to individual work stations.

Comment. Many comments addressed access to work areas. The majority of comments were from people with disabilities who supported the recommendations of the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee to require an accessible route to all individual work stations. They stated that not providing an accessible route to all work stations would limit employment opportunities, make reasonable accommodation more difficult to implement, and exclude people with disabilities from interacting with other employees while in the workplace. The Board sought comment on what obstacles people with disabilities have encountered as a result of ADAAG requiring access only to work areas and not to individual work stations (Question 1). Responses to this question generally referred to employment or reasonable accommodation of persons with disabilities being made more difficult, although specific cases or instances were not detailed. The majority of comments against providing an accessible route to individual work stations came from organizations representing the business community. These comments considered the original ADAAG requirements to be more consistent with the intent of title I of the ADA and urged that they be retained. Increased costs and design impacts associated with greater access to work areas or individual work stations were generally cited as a concern.

Response. The final rule preserves the general scope of coverage in the proposed rule and current ADAAG by applying requirements to work areas, as opposed to individual work stations. Enhanced specifications for circulation access in work areas will effectively provide access to individual work stations in various types of work areas. However, the Board has limited the requirements for circulation access to interior work areas that are 1,000 square feet or more in size in order to minimize the impact on facilities with small work areas.

Comment. The Board requested comment on the impact of requiring access to "individual work stations" rather than to "employee work areas" (Question 2). Comments provided no clear consensus on this issue. People with disabilities stated that the impact would be minimal due to requirements in the model codes, a consideration shared by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee. They also felt that not requiring access to individual work stations would limit their employment opportunities. The business community disputed the assertion that compliance with life safety codes would achieve an accessible route in all circumstances and noted that such a requirement would severely impact many small businesses.

Response. The final rule requires that common use circulation paths within work areas satisfy requirements for accessible routes in section 402. This will facilitate accommodation of employees, while recognizing constraints posed by certain work areas, including various types of equipment within. The final rule does not require full accessibility within the work area or to every individual work station but does require that a framework of common use circulation pathways within the work area as a whole be accessible. This provision is generally consistent, but somewhat less stringent, than the requirements in the model building codes. In addition, exceptions to certain technical requirements for route width (403.5) and ramp handrails (405.8) are provided for circulation paths in certain work areas in order to prevent design conflicts.

Comment. Information was requested in the proposed rule on specific types of individual work stations, not otherwise exempt in the guidelines, that could not be served by an accessible route (Question 3). People with disabilities generally noted that all areas of a newly constructed building should be on an accessible route. Comments from industry mentioned various types of work stations that would not easily be served by an accessible route. These included press boxes, service bays, including grease pits in automotive centers, the employee side of check-out counters, compact restaurant kitchens, spot light towers, boom and other camera positions, cocktail bars, and lighting control booths.

Response. The Board has added exceptions at 203.9 and 206.2.8 for work areas that are raised, small, exterior, or an integral part of equipment. Work areas that are less than 300 square feet that have to be elevated seven inches or more because it is essential to the space’s function are exempt from provisions for work areas entirely. Other exceptions in section 203, such as those covering raised areas (203.3), limited access spaces (203.4), machinery spaces (203.5), and single occupant structures (203.6) would apply to some of the mentioned types of work stations. In addition, an exception to accessible route requirements has been provided for press boxes (206.2.7), which is further discussed below in section 206.

Comment. The Board also sought information about whether the phrase "areas used only by employees as work areas" has been misinterpreted or considered unclear, and if it should be clarified in the final rule to prevent misinterpretation (Question 4). People with disabilities wanted clarification that employee common use areas not used as work areas must be fully accessible and do not qualify for the limited level of access permitted for areas used only by employees as work areas. Comments from industry generally supported the interpretation of this phrase. The Board sought information about whether the term "individual employee work stations" is sufficiently specific or if further clarification, qualification, or definition would be needed should a requirement be added to the final guidelines. Comments provided no clear consensus on this question.

Response. "Employee work area" is defined as spaces or portions of spaces used only by employees for work. This definition, which has been retained in the final rule without change, notes that corridors, toilet rooms, kitchenettes, and break rooms are not employee work areas. A definition for individual employee work station has not been included as the term is not used in the final rule.

204 Protruding Objects

Few comments were received on the scoping provision for protruding objects, which remains unchanged. Exceptions developed for sport activity areas and play areas in separate rulemakings on recreation facilities and on play areas are included in the final rule (204.1 Exceptions 1 and 2).

205 Operable Parts

The guidelines require operable parts on accessible routes and in accessible rooms and spaces to be accessible. Clarification has been added that operable parts on accessible elements are required to comply as well, which is consistent with technical provisions for various types of covered elements.

In the final rule, exceptions to this provision have been added. Some have been relocated from the technical provisions for operable parts in section 309. Exceptions in 205.1 cover:

  • operable parts intended for use only by service or maintenance personnel (Exception 1)
  • electrical or communication receptacles serving a dedicated use (Exception 2)
  • certain outlets at kitchen counters (Exception 3)
  • floor electrical receptacles (Exception 4)
  • HVAC diffusers (Exception 5)
  • redundant controls, other than light switches, provided for a single element (Exception 6)
  • boat securement devices (Exception 7)
  • exercise machines (Exception 8)
  • The proposed rule contained an exception from the technical requirement that operable parts be within accessible reach ranges (309.3). This exception applied "where the use of special equipment dictates otherwise or where electrical and communication system receptacles are not normally intended for use by building or facility occupants." Since such operable parts may merit exception from some of the other technical criteria in 309, the exception has been revised to exempt such equipment generally and has been relocated to the scoping provision in section 205. The original exception has been divided in separate parts covering different types of elements: operable parts intended only for use by service or maintenance personnel (Exception 1); electrical or communication receptacles serving a dedicated use (Exception 2); and floor electrical receptacles (Exception 4).

Three exceptions derive from provisions that were specific to residential dwelling units in the proposed rule (section 1102.9). They were relocated to section 205 and made generally applicable to all types of facilities. These cover certain outlets above kitchen countertops (Exception 3); HVAC diffusers (Exception 5); and redundant controls on elements other than light switches (Exception 6). This latter exception derives from exemptions in the proposed rule for range hood controls and controls mounted on ceiling fans in residential facilities. This exception has been broadened to cover other types of redundant controls, except light switches.

Exceptions the Board developed in rulemaking on recreation facilities are included in the final rule. These exceptions permit cleats and other boat securement devices to be outside accessible reach ranges (Exception 7) and generally exempt exercise machines from requirements for controls and operating mechanisms, including reach range and operating force specifications (Exception 8).

206 Accessible Routes

This section specifies the required number of accessible routes (206.2) and their location (206.3), and addresses elements on accessible routes such as entrances (206.4), doors, doorways, and gates (206.5), platform lifts (206.7), and security barriers (206.8).

Section 206.2 specifies where accessible routes are required within a site, including their connection to accessible buildings, stories, spaces, and elements. In addition, there are provisions specific to restaurants and cafeteria dining areas, performance areas, press boxes, employee work areas, and various types of recreation facilities.

Editorial revisions made to this section include:

  • clarification that "at least one" accessible route is required between facilities and public streets and sidewalks, parking, passenger loading zones, and public transportation stops (206.2.1)
  • revising the requirement for accessible routes between floor levels as applying to "multi-story" facilities and "stories" within, as opposed to "levels," the term used in the proposed rule (206.2.3, including the exceptions)
  • relocation of an exception for assembly areas in 206.2.3 to 206.2.4 (Exception 2)
  • clarifying an exception for certain raised courtroom stations by adding specific references to the types of spaces covered (206.2.4 Exception 1)
  • incorporation of provisions for recreation facilities that address accessible routes to amusement rides (206.2.9), boating facilities (206.10), bowling lanes (206.11), court sports (206.12), exercise machines (206.13), fishing piers and platforms (206.14), golf facilities (206.15), miniature golf facilities (206.16), and play areas (206.17)

Substantive changes, further discussed below, include:

  • modifying the exception for an accessible route in certain public facilities (206.2.3 Exception 2)
  • a new exception for mezzanines in one story buildings (206.2.4 Exception 3)
  • a new exception for dining areas in sports facilities (206.2.5 Exception 3)
  • revision of the requirement for accessible routes to performance areas (206.2.6)
  • a new provision and exception for press boxes (206.2.7)
  • a new provision and exceptions for employee work areas (206.2.8)
  • Comment. Public facilities, which are defined as State and local government facilities, are permitted an exception from the requirement for access between stories (206.2.3, Exception 2). In the proposed rule, this exception pertained to public facilities that are less than three stories and are not open to the public if the level above or below the accessible level houses no more than five persons and is less than 500 square feet. Comments considered the limit based on occupant load to be sufficient and suggested that the square footage cap was unnecessary.

Response. The 500 square foot maximum was based on a floor area allowance of 100 square feet per occupant, which is consistent with model building code requirements for business and industrial occupancies used in determining the occupant load for egress purposes. The Board agrees that the maximum occupant load is an effective cap on the size of buildings eligible for this exception. The square footage specification has been removed as a criterion of this exception.

The Board has clarified requirements for vertical access to mezzanines. While elevators, where provided, must serve all stories, including mezzanines where provided, ADAAG has not been clear on whether some form of vertical access is nonetheless required to a mezzanine level where no elevator is provided, such as a one-story building. Since mezzanines are elevated at heights similar to a full story, access by ramp or certain platform lifts may not provide a practical alternative. The final rule includes an exception at 206.2.4, Exception 3 stating that an accessible route to mezzanines is not required in facilities that are not subject to the requirement for an elevator, including one story buildings and those that qualify for the elevator exemption.

Comment. Designers called attention to dining areas integrated into the seating bowl of sports venues that are tiered in order to provide adequate lines of sight. These comments pointed out that it is difficult to provide accessible routes to much of the seating in such dining areas.

Response. An exception is included in the final rule for tiered dining areas in sports facilities at 206.2.5, Exception 3. Under this exception, access is not required to all dining areas, as is otherwise required. Instead, 25% of the dining area is required to be accessible provided that accessible routes connect seating required to be accessible, and each tier is provided with the same services.

Comment. The proposed rule required that an accessible route be provided where a circulation path "directly connects" seating and performance areas (206.2.6). Comments recommended that the accessible route should also directly connect such spaces to provide an equivalent level of access. Otherwise, it may be possible to provide access to performance areas through a more circuitous route and still be in compliance.

Response. Clarification has been added that the accessible route "shall directly connect the seating area with the performance area" where a circulation path is provided to do the same. This revision will ensure that the accessible route to a performance area is comparable to the general circulation route.

Since ADAAG was first published, many questions have been received about its proper application to press boxes at various sports facilities, particularly high schools. Such structures, which can be prefabricated, are significantly elevated above ground. Some are located at the top of bleachers. As a result, their design and location have posed unique challenges to the provision of a connecting accessible route. In the final rule, the Board has addressed the concerns raised in many technical inquiries by providing an exception for press boxes at 206.2.7. Press boxes in assembly facilities are required to be on an accessible route except for certain bleacher-mounted and free-standing types. An accessible route is not required to press boxes with 500 square feet or less of aggregate space that are located on bleachers with entrances on only one level (Exception 1). Free-standing structures are exempt if they are elevated more than 12 feet and have an aggregate area that is 500 square feet or less (Exception 2).

Section 206.2.8 establishes new provisions for employee work areas. The proposed rule required such areas to be on an accessible route so that people with disabilities could approach, enter, and exit the space. In the final rule, the Board has added a requirement that common use circulation paths, where provided within employee work areas, also be accessible by meeting the requirements for accessible routes in section 402. The basis for this change is discussed above under section 203.9 (Employee Work Areas). This revision provides for greater maneuvering access within work areas but does not require elements or equipment that are part of a work station to comply with any other requirements. This requirement is limited to relatively sizable, interior work spaces. Exceptions are provided for small work areas that are less than 1,000 square feet in size (Exception 1), circulation paths that are an integral part of equipment (Exception 2), and exterior work areas that are fully exposed to the weather (Exception 3).

Section 206.4 covers entrances. Substantive changes include:

  • increasing scoping for public entrances (206.4.1)
  • removing a requirement for accessible ground floor entrances (206.4.3 in the proposed rule)
  • revision of provision for parking structure entrances (206.4.2)

Editorial changes include reordering of provisions and the addition of requirements specific to transportation facilities (206.4.4) and residential dwelling units (206.4.6) that were previously located in chapters specific to those facilities. Scoping requirements for signs at entrances have been moved to the scoping for signs at section 216.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that at least 50% of public entrances be accessible (206.4.3). Many persons with disabilities urged the Board to increase this scoping so that they have equal access in terms of convenience, entry options, travel distances, and proximity to accessible parking. Some commenters argued that all public entrances should be accessible.

Response. The minimum number of entrances required to be accessible has been increased from 50% to 60% in the final rule. While access to all entrances is desirable, a variety of conditions on a site can make access to every entrance difficult and costly. For example, facilities located on steep hillsides may have entrances elevated significantly above grade. However, this consideration, in the Board’s view, is not as relevant to connections from parking structures. In final rule, the Board has required all pedestrian connections between parking structures and facility entrances to be accessible (206.4.2). This represents an increase from the proposed rule, which required only one to be accessible.

Comment. The proposed rule required that at least one accessible entrance be a ground floor entrance (206.4.3). Commenters recommended that this stipulation be removed since the ground floor may not always be the primary floor. In such conditions, the provision would not enhance accessibility.

Response. The requirement that at least one accessible entrance be a ground floor entrance has been removed in the final rule.

Comment. Section 206.4.2 covers access to pedestrian connections between parking structures and facility entrances. In the proposed rule, this requirement referred to "parking garages." Comments considered that term to be too narrow and recommended alternatives such as "parking facilities."

Response. The reference to "parking garage" has been changed to "parking structure" in the final rule.

Section 206.5 provides scoping requirements for doors, doorways, and gates. Revisions include:

  • clarification of a provision covering doors and doorways in inaccessible transient lodging guest rooms in section 206.5.3 (located at 224.1.2 in the proposed rule)
  • addition of a new exception from this requirement for shower and sauna doors (206.5.3, Exception)

This section also includes a provision for doors and doorways in residential dwelling units (206.5.4) that has been relocated from Chapter 11.

Comment. In transient lodging facilities, doors and doorways in inaccessible guest rooms are required to provide a clear width of at least 32 inches. This specification stems from the original ADAAG and is intended to afford some access to inaccessible guest rooms for visitation purposes. Clarification was requested on which types of doors this is intended to cover and whether it applies to shower doors.

Response. In the final rule, clarification has been added in 206.5.3 that the 32 inch minimum clearance applies to those doors "providing user passage" into and within guest rooms not required to be accessible. In addition, the Board has added an exception that exempts shower and sauna doors in inaccessible guest rooms from this requirement. Corresponding changes have been made to a similar provision in the scoping section for transient lodging facilities (224.1.2).

Scoping requirements for elevators in section 206.6 reference technical criteria for standard passenger elevators, destination-oriented elevators, existing elevators that are altered, limited-use/limited-application (LULA) elevators, and private residence elevators. Destination-oriented elevators are different from typical elevators in that they provide a means of indicating the desired floor at the location of the call button, usually through a key pad, instead of a control panel inside the car. Responding cars are programmed for maximum efficiency by reducing the number of stops any passenger experiences. Limited-use/limited-application (LULA) elevators are typically smaller and slower than other passenger elevators and are used for low-traffic, low-rise installations, including residential facilities.

Scoping provisions have been editorially revised to correspond to reorganized technical criteria in Chapter 4. Specifically, requirements for destination-oriented elevators and altered elevators have been integrated into the specifications for standard elevators (407). LULA elevators (408) and private residence elevators (409) are addressed in separate sections since their specifications vary considerably from the other elevator types. Scoping for private residence elevators (206.6, Exception 2) has been relocated from Chapter 11.

Section 206.6 requires each passenger elevator to comply with the requirements for standard elevators or destination-oriented elevators. LULA elevators are permitted in those facilities that are exempt from the requirement for an elevator (206.6 Exception 1).

Comment. Industry, facility operators, designers and some disability groups strongly supported LULA elevators as an alternative where a standard elevator is not required. Some comments from persons with disabilities opposed allowing use of LULA elevators over concern about their size and accessibility.

Response. The ADA’s statutory language exempts certain facilities from the requirement for an elevator. The Board has retained the exception permitting LULA elevators, since it offers a more economical alternative than a standard elevator and thus may help encourage inclusion of some vertical access where none is mandated. The technical criteria for LULA elevators specify minimum car sizes that ensure adequate accessibility. In addition, the Board has revised the exception to also allow LULA elevators as an alternative to platform lifts, since such elevators provide an equivalent, if not greater, degree of access.

Comment. The guidelines provide an exception for private sector facilities based on the number of stories or the square footage per floor (206.2.3, Exception 1). A much narrower exception is permitted for State and local government facilities (206.2.3, Exception 2). The Board sought comment on whether LULA elevators should be allowed instead of a standard elevator in certain small State or local government facilities. There were few comments in response to this question.

Response. No changes have been made regarding LULA elevators that are specific to State and local government facilities. Any facility, regardless of whether it is a public or private facility, may be equipped with a LULA elevator if is not required to have an elevator. LULA elevators may also be used as a substitute for platform lifts.

Comment. The guidelines require that when one elevator is altered, the same alteration has to be carried out for all elevators programmed to respond to the same hall call control (206.6.1). Commenters opposed this requirement as excessive and argued that it goes beyond the potential scope of an elevator alteration. Generally under the guidelines, the requirements apply only to the element to be altered and not those outside the intended scope of work (except for alterations to primary function areas and the requirement for accessible paths of travel).

Response. This provision is unique in requiring an alteration to be replicated to corresponding elements (elevator cars) because it addresses an equally unique circumstance. Elevator users typically do not control which elevator will respond to a call. If one car is altered and as a result made accessible, it would make continuous access on that elevator a game of chance, with the odds higher for each additional car responding to the call that is not similarly altered.

Section 206.7 specifies where platform lifts can be installed. In new construction, platform lifts are permitted as a means of vertical access to certain spaces, including performance areas and speakers’ platforms (206.7.1), wheelchair spaces in assembly areas (206.7.2), incidental spaces not open to the public that house no more than five persons (206.7.3), and various work spaces in courtrooms (206.7.4). In the final rule, provisions have been added that permit platform lifts where exterior site constraints make installation of a ramp or elevator infeasible (206.7.5) and in residential dwelling units and transient lodging guest rooms (206.7.6). Also included in the final rule are provisions developed in separate rulemakings on recreation and play facilities that permit platforms lifts to be used to provide access to amusement rides (206.7.7), play equipment and structures (206.7.8), team or player seating areas in sports facilities (206.7.9), and boating facilities, fishing piers, and fishing platforms (206.7.10).

Comment. Comments suggested that the guidelines use the industry term "platform lifts" instead of "wheelchair (platform) lifts." The recommended term does not suggest that such platforms are limited to people who use wheelchairs.

Response. The term "wheelchair (platform) lifts" has been replaced with "platform lifts" throughout the document.

Comment. Original ADAAG allowed use of platform lifts where ramps or lifts are infeasible due to existing site constraints (4.1.3(5), Exception 4(d)). This provision was not included in the proposed rule as it was considered unwarranted in new construction. Strong support was expressed for reinstating this exception, particularly among industry. These comments referred to conditions that could pose significant challenges to access in new construction.

Response. The provision for existing site constraints has been reinserted in the final rule at section 206.7.5. It is intended to apply to instances where exterior site constraints posed by the topography make ramp or elevator access infeasible. Although the triggering condition (site constraints) must be exterior, the permitted platform lift may in fact be located in the interior of a building. This clarification is provided in an advisory note to this provision.

Section 206.7.6 permits platform lifts in residential dwelling units and transient lodging guest rooms. The Board included this provision in the final rule since it considers lift access appropriate in such spaces.

Section 206.8 requires that an accessible route or accessible means of egress be maintained where security barriers or check points are provided. It also requires that people with disabilities be able to maintain visual contact with their personal items to the same extent afforded others passing through barriers.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that people with disabilities be able to maintain visual contact with their personal belongings while "passing though" security barriers. Comments stated that the maintenance of visual contact should be ensured from the accessible route, which may not coincide with the route through barriers.

Response. Clarification has been added that "the accessible route shall permit persons with disabilities passing around security barriers to maintain visual contact with their personal items to the same extent provided others passing through the security barrier."

207 Accessible Means of Egress

Provisions for accessible means of egress are completely revised in the final rule. Provisions in the proposed rule were intended to be more consistent with model building codes and standards. In the final rule, the Board has taken this a step further by directly referencing the scoping and technical requirements in the International Building Code (IBC) for accessible means of egress. All technical criteria for accessible means of egress (409), including areas of refuge (410) have been removed in the final rule. Information on the IBC requirements for accessible means of egress is available on the Board’s website at www.access-board.gov and in advisory notes.

The proposed rule, consistent with model building codes and standards, specified at least one accessible means of egress for all accessible spaces and at least two accessible means of egress where more than one means of egress was required. In addition, it provided a new requirement for an evacuation elevator to be provided as an accessible means of egress in buildings with four or more stories above or below the exit discharge level, which is also consistent with model building codes.

The proposed scoping provisions referenced technical criteria for accessible means of egress, including exit stairways and evacuation elevators (409). These specifications allowed use of exit stairways and elevators that are part of an accessible means of egress when provided in conjunction with horizontal exits or areas of refuge. While typical elevators are not designed to be used during an emergency evacuation, there are elevators that are designed with standby power and other features in accordance with the elevator safety standard that can be used for evacuation. The proposed rule also provided requirements for areas of refuge, which are fire-rated spaces on levels above or below the exit discharge levels where people unable to use stairs can go to register a call for evacuation assistance and wait for it.

Comment. Many comments supported the Board’s overall effort to harmonize its guidelines with model building codes and life safety codes. Some considered this particularly important in specifications related to life and fire safety. To further underscore this effort, it was recommended that the Board directly rely on the International Building Code (IBC) in addressing accessible means of egress.

Response. Historically, the Board’s guidelines have "piggybacked" model building and life safety codes in addressing accessible means of egress, particularly for scoping purposes. The required number was specified according to the number of means of egress or exits required by model building codes. The IBC’s scoping and technical requirements for accessible means of egress are substantively consistent with the provisions contained in the proposed rule. For purposes of harmonization and simplicity, the Board has replaced these provisions with a reference in section 207.1 to a specific section of the IBC (1003.2.13 in the 2000 edition and 1007 in the 2003 edition).

Comment. In response to the draft final guidelines, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urged the Board to reference its Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), a voluntary consensus code which contains scoping and technical provisions for accessible means of egress. NFPA requested that the final guidelines reference the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code in addition to the IBC provisions for accessible means of egress.

Response. Requirements for accessible means of egress in the IBC are consistent with those the Board has proposed. Further, they are provided in the IBC in a discrete section (1003.2.13), which the final guidelines specifically reference. Specifications for accessible means of egress in the Life Safety Code are provided throughout that document. Consequently, NFPA’s request would require a reference to the complete Life Safety Code. For this reason, the Board has retained its references to the IBC for accessible means of egress. The final guidelines do reference NFPA’s National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72-1999) with respect to technical requirements for visual alarms, further discussed below in section 702.

The Board had considered adding a provision, which was included in the draft of the final guidelines, that would have required accessible means of egress to be connected to the level of exit discharge by an accessible route. This would have been required except where the floor level is 30 inches or more above or below the level of exit discharge. In such cases, areas of rescue assistance would have been permitted in lieu of an accessible route to the level of exit discharge. The Board sought to incorporate a similar provision into the IBC. The IBC Committee on Means of Egress did not approve adding such a provision into the IBC. The IBC Committee and others believed that the rationale for areas of rescue assistance was relevant not just to the levels above and below the exit discharge level, but also to the level of exit discharge itself. The Board’s provision recognized elevation differentials that would make connection by an accessible route very difficult even in new construction. This recognition, it was argued, should not be limited by a specific elevation change (i.e., 30 inches). For purposes of harmonization, the Board has removed this provision in the final rule.

Comment. Comments suggested that situations should be addressed where accessible means of egress should be allowed to coincide, such as a space that provides few wheelchair spaces.

Response. The final rule includes an exception acknowledging that accessible means of egress can share a common path of egress travel where this is permitted for means of egress by local building or life safety codes (207.1, Exception 1).

In addition, the Board has retained in the final rule an exemption for detention and correctional facilities from the requirement for areas of refuge (Exception 2). This exception was provided because such areas are considered a security risk and evacuation is typically supervised in these types of occupancies.

The Board has added a new provision specific to platform lifts. The proposed rule allowed accessible routes to serve as accessible means of egress, except for wheelchair lifts, which are not permitted as part of an accessible means of egress because they are not generally provided with standby power that would allow them to remain functional in emergencies when power is lost. The final rule includes a provision that allows platform lifts with standby power to be part of an accessible means of egress where the IBC permits lift access (207.2). This change helps ensure that necessary accessible means of egress from spaces served by platform lifts are maintained in emergencies.

208 Parking Spaces

Section 208 specifies the minimum number of parking spaces required to be accessible. In general, required access is determined by a sliding scale based on the total number of spaces provided (Table 208.2). This section includes scoping requirements specific to hospital outpatient facilities (208.2.1), rehabilitation facilities and outpatient physical therapy facilities (208.2.2), residential facilities (208.2.3), and van spaces (208.2.4). Changes made in the final rule include:

  • removing an exception for "motor pools" (208.1, Exception)
  • clarifying scoping, including where multiple parking facilities are provided on a site (208.2)
  • clarifying requirements for parking at residential facilities (208.2.3)
  • increasing the portion of accessible spaces that accommodate vans (208.2.4)
  • relocation of requirements for signage to the scoping section on signs (216.5)

Section 208.1 exempts spaces used exclusively for buses, trucks, other delivery vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, and vehicular impound where public access lots are provided with accessible passenger loading zones. The proposed rule included in this list a reference to "motor pools," which the Board has removed in the final rule.

Comment. The scoping table in the proposed rule specified the minimum number based on the total number of parking spaces provided in a parking lot. Commenters indicated that this term could be construed as applying only to surface lots, even though the requirement is intended to apply to parking garages and other types of parking structures as well.

Response. The Board has replaced the references to "parking lots" with the term "parking facility," which is more inclusive of the various types of parking covered by this section.

Comment. Persons with disabilities urged an increase in the number of parking spaces required to be accessible. Other commenters, including those representing facility operators, asked for a reduction in this number because existing accessible spaces are believed to be underutilized. Comments also opposed basing scoping on the number of spaces provided at each facility instead of the total number provided on a site, which further serves to inflate the required number of accessible spaces.

Response. Scoping for accessible parking spaces (excluding the portion required to be van accessible) has not been changed in the final rule. A strong difference of opinion exists between those who use such spaces and those who must provide or maintain them. There was no clear consensus among commenters on either side of this issue on an alternative scoping level. Additionally, the final rule preserves the application of scoping on a facility-by-facility basis instead of on the total number provided on a site, consistent with the original ADAAG and the proposed rule. Clarification to this effect that was provided in an advisory note in the proposed rule has been added to the text of the requirement in 208.2.

Parking at residential facilities is addressed in section 208.2.3. Where parking spaces are provided for each dwelling unit, at least one parking space for each accessible dwelling unit is required to be accessible (208.2.3.1). The Board has clarified this provision to apply "where at least one parking space is provided for each dwelling unit." At least 2% of any additional spaces, where provided, are required to be accessible as well (208.2.3.2). The Board has amended requirements for guest parking (208.2.3.3) to include employee spaces, which is consistent with the basic scoping provision applying generally to all facility types in 208.2.

Comment. Section 208.2.4 covers van accessible spaces. The proposed rule specified that one of every eight accessible spaces, or fraction thereof, be designed to accommodate vans. Technical specifications for van spaces provide for a wider access aisle to better accommodate lift-equipped vehicles. Many comments considered this number to be wholly insufficient. People with disabilities who use vans reported difficulty finding available van spaces which, when provided, are too often already occupied. Recommended alternate scoping levels varied, though some urged that all accessible spaces be van accessible.

Response. The final rule has been revised to require one van space for every six accessible spaces, or fraction thereof. This change does not increase the total number of parking spaces required to be accessible, but instead increases the portion of such spaces that must be accessible to vans. The Board made this change due to several factors. In addition to the response from commenters, anecdotal information clearly suggests that the use of vans by persons with disabilities is on the rise. In addition, the Board is aware of other entities, such as the State of Maryland, that have responded to this demand for more van spaces by doubling the required number. Another consideration is that van spaces are not designated or reserved exclusively for vans; their use by people who do not drive vans can impact their availability among accessible spaces. The primary difference between van spaces and standard accessible spaces is an additional three feet of aisle width. The technical specifications permit the additional space to be provided in either the aisle or the space. The Board believes that the impact of this change is lessened by technical requirements that allow two accessible spaces, including van spaces, to share the same aisle.

The requirement for van spaces applies to all types of facilities, including those that are the subject of special provisions, such as hospital outpatient facilities (208.2.1), rehabilitation and physical therapy facilities (208.2.2), and residential facilities (208.2.3). In the proposed rule, the reference to rehabilitation and physical outpatient therapy facilities covered in 208.2.2 was inadvertently omitted. This reference has been restored in the final rule.

Section 208.3 specifies the location of accessible parking spaces. This section has been edited to clarify:

  • the location of accessible spaces generally (208.3.1)
  • that an exception allowing van spaces to be clustered applies to "multi-story" parking facilities (208.3.1, Exception 1)
  • that "substantially equivalent" or greater access in terms of travel distance, parking fee, and user cost and convenience is the basis upon which accessible spaces can be located in one facility instead of another (208.3.1, Exception 2)
  • that accessible parking serving individual residential dwelling units must be located on the shortest accessible route to the units they serve (208.3.2)

Comment. Spaces can be located in other lots where equal or greater access would result in terms of travel distance, user cost, and convenience (208.3.1, Exception 2). Comments requested clarification of the terms "user cost" and "user convenience."

Response. In the final rule, the Board has replaced the reference to "user cost" with "parking fee" which it considered more descriptive. Under this exception, accessible spaces can be located in one parking facility instead of another so long as this does not result in higher parking fees. The Board has clarified the term "user convenience" in a new advisory note.

209 Passenger Loading Zones and Bus Stops

In general, at least one accessible passenger loading zone is required for every 100 linear feet of loading zone space provided (209.2.1). Additional requirements address bus loading zones and bus stops (209.2.2 and 209.2.3), medical and long-term care facilities (209.3), valet parking (209.4), and mechanical access parking garages (209.5). Revisions have been made to:

  • clarify the basic scoping provision (209.2.1)
  • integrate requirements for bus loading zones and bus stops previously located in a separate chapter covering transportation facilities (209.2.2 and 209.2.3)
  • modify provisions specific to medical care and long-term care facilities (209.3)
  • address mechanical access parking garages (209.5)

An accessible passenger loading zone is required for every 100 linear feet of loading zone space provided. The Board has clarified in the final rule that this applies to "fractions" of this amount as well, which is consistent with the intent of this provision as proposed.

The proposed rule addressed bus loading areas and bus stops in Chapter 10 (section 1002.2), which covered transportation facilities. With the integration of this chapter into the preceding chapters, the provisions for bus loading zones and bus stops have been incorporated into the general scoping provisions for passenger loading zones. This reorganization helps clarify that while these areas function as passenger loading zones, they are subject to different technical criteria. No substantive changes have been made to these requirements as part of this reorganization.

Comment. Accessible passenger loading zones are required at licensed medical care and licensed long-term care facilities. The scope of this requirement was not clear to commenters who asked whether the reference to medical care facilities included doctors’ and dentists’ offices, clinics, and similar types of health care facilities.

Response. The Board did not intend this provision to apply to medical facilities that do not generally provide overnight stay. In the final rule, this requirement is limited to those medical and long-term care facilities where the period of stay may exceed 24 hours. This change is consistent with original ADAAG’s use of the term "medical care facility" and corresponds with a similar revision made to scoping provisions for patient bedrooms in such facilities in section 223. In addition, the Board has clarified that this provision applies only to long-term care facilities that are licensed.

Comment. It was recommended that the guidelines address mechanical conveyances used to elevate vehicles to different levels of parking facilities. Comments pointed out that model building codes cover facilities providing these vehicle lifting devices.

Response. The final rule includes a provision for "mechanical access parking garages" that requires accessible passenger loading zones at the vehicle drop-off and pick-up areas. This requirement is consistent with model building codes.

210 Stairways

Stairs that are part of a means of egress are required to comply with the guidelines (210.1). Exceptions are provided for certain stairs in detention and correctional facilities and altered stairs. The final rule modifies the exception for altered stairs (Exception 2), adds a new exception for aisle stairs in assembly areas (Exception 3), and incorporates an exception for play components developed in previous rulemaking on play areas (Exception 4).

Comment. In altered facilities, stairs serving levels that are connected by an accessible route do not have to comply, but must be equipped with complying handrails. Comments indicated that this requirement should apply only where an alteration affects stairs. Otherwise, the requirement for complying handrails should not apply.

Response. The requirement for complying handrails was intended to apply only where stairs are modified or replaced as part of an alteration. Clarification has been added in the final rule that the requirement for complying handrails applies "when the stairs are altered."

Comment. The International Building Code and other model building codes provide various exceptions for stairs in assembly areas to permit design features used to accommodate sight lines. Such features include unique riser and tread dimensions and handrail configurations. Comments indicated that an exception should similarly be provided in the guidelines to avoid conflict with model building codes.

Response. The final rule exempts aisle stairs in assembly areas from the requirements for stairs.

211 Drinking Fountains

In addressing drinking fountains, the guidelines cover access for people who use wheelchairs and access for standing persons who may have difficulty bending or stooping. Where provided, 50% of drinking fountains are required to be wheelchair accessible and 50% are required to be accessible to standing persons (with rounding up or down permitted in the case of odd numbers). Generally, this requires at least two units in order to provide such access. However, single units that provide dual access, such as those equipped with two spouts or combination high-low types, can substitute for two separate units. Scoping requirements apply where drinking fountains are provided on exterior sites, on floors, and within secured areas.

This section has been editorially revised for clarity and substantively revised in several respects:

  • references to "water coolers" have been removed (211)
  • the application of scoping to exterior sites has been clarified (211.1)
  • an exemption for secured areas in detention and correctional facilities has been added (211.1, Exception)

The proposed rule scoped both drinking fountains and water coolers. The term "water coolers" typically refers to units that are either identical to drinking fountains or to furnishings that are not fixed or plumbed. The reference to water coolers was removed.

Comment. Many comments considered this section unduly complicated and obscure in potentially requiring at least two units where drinking fountains are provided. Commenters also opposed specific recognition of "high-low" units as an alternative to two separate units since other types, such as single bowl units with two spouts, are commercially available.

Response. Section 211 has been editorially revised to enhance clarity. Section 211.2 now states that "no fewer than two drinking fountains shall be provided" with one being wheelchair accessible and the other designed to accommodate people who have difficulty bending or stooping. Single units that provide both types of access are permitted as an alternative to multiple installations (211.2 Exception). Where fractions result (i.e., provision of an odd number of units), rounding up or down is permitted.

In the final rule, scoping has been clarified as applying to units provided at "exterior sites," in addition to those installed on floors. For example, if drinking fountains are provided outside a building and on each of its floors, then dual access must be provided at exterior locations and on each floor. If drinking fountains are provided on one floor only, then the requirement for dual access would apply only to that floor.

Scoping is also applied to ensure dual access in secured areas of facilities, such as prisons and jails since circulation among occupants may be restricted to such an area. In the proposed rule, technical criteria applicable to detention and correctional facilities required wheelchair access to drinking fountains serving accessible housing or holding cells (section 807.2.4 in the proposed rule). However, the basic scoping in section 211 would have applied equally to detention and correctional facilities, including the requirement for units designed to accommodate people who have difficulty bending or stooping. In the final rule, an exception has been added to clarify that drinking fountains serving inaccessible cells only are not required to be accessible (211.1, Exception). Those units that serve accessible cells are required to be accessible as required in section 211.

212 Sinks, Kitchens, and Kitchenettes

Scoping provisions in section 212 require access to kitchens and kitchenettes, where provided. Where sinks are provided in each accessible room or space, at least 5% of each type, but no less than one, must be accessible, except for mop or service sinks, which are exempt.

Comment. In the proposed rule, this scoping section referenced "wet bars" along with kitchens and kitchenettes. Comments, including those representing the hotel and motel industry, considered this reference to be unnecessary since such elements are adequately covered through references to kitchenettes and sinks. The term "wet bar" could pose a source of confusion since the guidelines do not provide a definition or specific technical criteria for such elements.

Response. The reference to "wet bars" has been removed in the final rule.

The proposed rule provided several exceptions which clarified that access to kitchens and kitchenettes is not required in inaccessible medical care patient rooms, transient lodging guest rooms, dwelling units, or housing cells (212.1.1, Exceptions 1 though 4). These exceptions have been removed as unnecessary since scoping elsewhere in Chapter 2 indicates the number of rooms, units, and cells required to be accessible. Those not scoped are not required to be accessible. Thus, none of the provisions in the guidelines, including those for kitchens, would apply to rooms, units, and cells not required to be accessible, unless otherwise indicated.

213 Toilet Facilities and Bathing Facilities

Section 213 covers access to toilet and bathing facilities, including elements and fixtures they contain. Access is required where toilet and bathing facilities are provided, though exceptions are provided for certain altered facilities, including qualified historic facilities, single user rooms, and portable units clustered at a single location (213.2, Exceptions 1 through 4).

Substantive changes include an increase in the number of toilet rooms clustered at a single location required to be accessible and revision of criteria for unisex toilet and bathing rooms.

Comment. Where single user toilet rooms are clustered at a single location, not all are required to be accessible (213.2, Exception 4). In the proposed rule, this exception specified access to at least 5% of such toilet rooms. This reduced scoping was limited to those toilet rooms containing fixtures provided in excess of the number required by the local plumbing or building code. Comments from people with disabilities strongly opposed this reduction in access from the original ADAAG, which required all to be accessible. Commenters felt that this would severely limit choice and availability of accessible toilet rooms at such locations. Some urged that all toilet rooms clustered at a location should be required to be accessible.

Response. The exception has been modified to allow only half of the toilet rooms clustered at a single location to be inaccessible. This will enhance choice and availability of accessible toilet rooms while still providing a considerable reduction in the amount required to be accessible relative to the original ADAAG. As revised in the final rule, this scoping is not limited to situations where the fixture count required by the local plumbing or building code is exceeded. Thus, the 50% scoping would apply across the board to facilities clustered at a single location without regard to the required fixture count. The Board made this change in order to facilitate compliance.

Comment. Comments advised revising requirements for unisex toilet and bathing rooms for greater consistency with model building codes. Recommendations also noted that unisex facilities are also referred to as "single use" or "family" toilet and bathing rooms in some codes.

Response. The requirements for unisex facilities have been revised according to specifications in the model building codes (213.2.1). Unisex toilet rooms must have a lavatory and privacy latch and cannot have more than two toileting fixtures (i.e., two water closets, or one water closet and one urinal). This differs from the proposed rule which required unisex toilet rooms to have one water closet. Unisex bathrooms must have a lavatory, water closet, privacy latch, and one shower, and may have a tub in addition to a shower. The proposed rule permitted either a shower or tub. The final rule also includes a reference indicating that unisex toilet and bathing rooms are also known as "single use or family" facilities.

Editorial revisions made to the scoping provisions for toilet and bathing facilities include:

  • clarification of the requirement that toilet and bathing facilities be provided on an accessible story in facilities exempt from the requirement for an elevator where toilet and bathing facilities are provided (213.1)
  • relocation of requirements for signs (213.2.2 in the proposed rule) to the signage scoping section (216.8)
  • removal of exceptions for toilet and bathing rooms serving inaccessible patient rooms, guest rooms, dwelling units, and cells (213.2, Exceptions 5 through 8 in the proposed rule)

The proposed rule provided several exceptions which clarified that access is not required to toilet and bathing facilities serving inaccessible medical care patient rooms, transient lodging guest rooms, dwelling units, or prison and jail cells (213.2, Exceptions 5 through 8). Similar to corresponding exceptions for kitchens and kitchenettes in 212, these exceptions have been removed as unnecessary since scoping elsewhere in Chapter 2 indicates the number of rooms, units, and cells required to be accessible. Those not scoped are not required to be accessible, including toilet and bathing facilities serving them.

Section 213.3 addresses plumbed fixtures and accessories. Substantive changes have been made to scoping provisions for ambulatory accessible toilet compartments (213.3.1) and urinals (213.3.3).

Comment. The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, required that access for people who are ambulatory be provided, in addition to wheelchair accessible compartments, in toilet rooms with six or more toilet compartments. Ambulatory accessible stalls feature parallel grab bars on both sides and a self-closing door and are designed to accommodate people who may have difficulty walking, sitting, or rising. Comments pointed to a disparity in the application of this requirement between men’s and women’s rooms since the provision is triggered by the number of compartments without taking into account urinals. The number of toilet compartments in a men’s rooms may be lower than in a women’s rooms due to the provision of urinals.

Response. The requirement for ambulatory accessible compartments has been revised so that it applies equitably between men’s and women’s rooms (213.3.1). The provision has been modified to apply where six or more toilet compartments are provided or where "the combination of urinals and water closets totals six or more fixtures."

Comment. Where urinals are provided, the proposed rule specified at least one to be accessible. Comments, particularly those from industry, urged that this requirement be removed. Some comments questioned the degree to which men with disabilities use or prefer urinals over water closets. Several comments indicated that some building codes have been revised to permit stall-type urinals, which can facilitate the emptying of leg bags.

Response. The Board believes that access to urinals should be required to preserve a degree of choice in the type of toilet fixtures available. However, the scoping requirement has been revised to apply where more than one urinal is provided. Thus, accessible urinals are not required in toilet rooms equipped with one urinal.

Editorial changes made to scoping provisions in 213.3 for plumbed fixtures and accessories include:

  • removing as unnecessary the distinction between toilet compartments and toilet rooms in scoping accessible water closets (213.3.1, 213.3.2)
  • clarifying the prohibition on accessible lavatories being placed in toilet compartments (213.3.4)
  • removing references to operable parts dispensers, and receptacles, as such elements are generally covered by scoping in 205 (213.3.6 in the proposed rule)
  • relocation and modification of a scoping provision for coat hooks and shelves in toilet and bathing rooms and toilet compartments (213.3.7)

Comment. At least one accessible lavatory is required in toilet and bathing rooms. This required accessible lavatory cannot be located in a toilet compartment. Comments agreed with this provision, but requested that it be restated more clearly in the final rule.

Response. The provision has been revised for purposes of clarity to state that where lavatories are provided, at least one shall be accessible "and shall not be located in a toilet compartment."

Section 213.3.7 addresses coat hooks and shelves provided in accessible toilet rooms, toilet compartments, and bathing facilities and references corresponding technical criteria for such elements in these spaces. This provision has been relocated for clarity from the scoping section covering storage (208). In the proposed rule, this provision at 228.4 required such access only if coat hooks and shelves were provided in inaccessible toilet rooms or toilet compartments. This has been revised in the final rule as applying where such elements are provided without regard to inaccessible rooms and compartments.

214 Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers

No substantive changes have been made to scoping requirements for washing machines and clothes dryers. Editorial changes made to this section include changing the section’s title from "Laundry Equipment" to "Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers" for consistency with the references used in the scoping provisions.

215 Fire Alarm Systems

Section 215 covers fire alarms, which are required to comply where audible fire alarms are provided. Provisions are included that are specific to public use and common use areas (215.2), work areas (215.3), transient lodging guest rooms (215.4), and residential dwelling units (215.5).

Substantive changes made in the final rule concern existing facilities, work areas, and other types of emergency alarm systems. Editorial changes include the addition of references to transient lodging facilities and residential dwelling units, which are subject to specific requirements for fire alarms in other scoping provisions in sections 224 and 233, respectively.

Fire alarm systems required to be accessible must have visual appliances which serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The advisory committee had recommended an exception that would require visual appliances in alterations only where a fire alarm system is upgraded or replaced or a new system installed. Such an exception would recognize that fire alarms are often complex building-wide systems that cannot necessarily be brought into compliance with requirements for visual appliances on a piecemeal basis. The Board had not included this exception in the proposed rule because it considered the basic application provisions for alterations in section 202.3 to be sufficient. In general, these provisions apply requirements of the guidelines according to the scope of an alteration to the degree that compliance is "technically feasible." The Board has reconsidered this decision and has included an exception in the final rule for consistency with the International Building Code and the National Fire Protection Association code (NFPA 72). The exception clarifies that alterations affecting fire alarm systems partially, or in a limited manner, do not trigger requirements for visual appliances (215.1, Exception). However, alterations that involve the upgrade or replacement of an existing alarm system or the installation of a new system are subject to the requirements for visual alarms.

The Board intends the exception at 215.1 to be applied in the same manner and to have the same meaning as is common practice in a similar exception provided in the model codes upon which this exception is based. Upgrades to the fire alarm system are changes to the system infrastructure and are not changes to individual system components. For example, replacing the main fire alarm control panel which permits fire alarms to be better integrated with other building systems or with off-site monitoring services would be considered an upgrade to the fire alarm system. In addition, replacing or increasing the main power supply to the fire alarms would be an upgrade to the fire alarm system. However, adding or relocating individual visible or audible notification devices is not an upgrade to the system.

Comment. The proposed rule included a requirement for visual alarms in employee work areas that are served by audible alarms (203.3). Employee work areas are exempt from most other requirements in the guidelines under an exception at 203.9. In order to gauge the impact of this requirement, the Board posed several questions that sought comment on: how frequently alarm systems are typically replaced or upgraded in such a manner that the requirement would be triggered in existing facilities (Question 5), other alternatives that would provide a comparable level of life safety for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing (Question 6), and limiting the number of visual appliances for the benefit of people who have photosensitive epilepsy (Question 7). Comments indicated that alarm systems are typically replaced on a 10 - 15 year cycle. However, some indicated that the electrical service supporting the alarms is not necessarily replaced or upgraded when alarms systems are, which may preclude opportunities to easily add more appliances to the system as part of the work. Responses on alternative methods included low tech suggestions such as pagers, a buddy system, and other solutions that involve non-fixed elements or operational methods and are thus outside the scope of these guidelines. Many people who have photosensitive epilepsy and organizations representing them acknowledged that visual alarms are necessary in public use and common use areas but urged the Board to treat employee work areas differently. These commenters expressed concern that visual appliances in employee work areas could pose barriers to the employment of people who have photosensitive epilepsy. Activation of visual appliances in work areas on an as-needed basis does not provide a practicable solution as most codes, standards, and local laws prohibit deactivation of fire alarm appliances.

Response. The Board has removed the requirement for visual alarms in employee work areas. Instead, the final rule only requires that work areas be designed so that compliant visual appliances can be integrated into the alarm system (215.3). This provision, which applies only where work areas have audible alarm coverage, will facilitate accommodation of employees who are deaf or hard of hearing as required under title I of the ADA. The specification does not require electrical service to support wiring for visual appliances throughout all employee work areas. The specification merely requires that the wiring be placed so that it can be tapped into from the location of employee work areas. The Board believes that the surplus electrical service typically provided should be sufficient for the incidental installation of visual alarms.

Comment. The Board proposed covering facility alarm systems (other than fire alarm systems) that do not instruct occupants to evacuate the facility but provide other warning information, such as those used for tornado warnings and other emergencies. The proposed requirement (215.2 in the proposed rule) specified audible and visible signals but did not reference any specific technical criteria, including any addressing placement or photometric characteristics. Instead, the Board sought comment on what these characteristics should be, particularly where differentiation from fire alarm system signals is important (Question 9). Many commenters supported ensuring that such alarm systems are accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but no information was received on appropriate technical specifications for guidelines that are national in scope.

Response. The scoping requirement for other types of alarms has been removed in the final rule. The Board did not want to scope an element absent reliable technical specifications. The Board will consider bringing this matter to the attention of international model codes and standards organizations in the future.

216 Signs

Scoping requirements for signs cover room designations (216.2) and directional and informational signs (216.3). The guidelines also include provisions specific to certain elements and spaces, including parking, entrances, means of egress, and toilet and bathing rooms. In the proposed rule, these requirements were located at the scoping or technical sections covering the elements and spaces. In the final rule, all scoping requirements specific to signs have been localized in section 216.

Section 216.1 exempts certain types of signs, including building directories, menus, building names, temporary signs, and signs provided in non-public use spaces of prisons and jails. In the proposed rule, these exceptions were listed separately among provisions for room designations and directional or informational signs. For simplicity, they have been relocated as exceptions to the general scoping provision (216.1) which exempts them from this section entirely. In addition, the final rule includes new exceptions for:

  • seat and row designations in assembly areas (Exception 1)
  • occupant names (Exception 1)
  • company names and logos (Exception 1)
  • signs in parking facilities (Exception 2)

The Board included exceptions for occupant names, and company names and logos, which is consistent with its interpretation of the original ADAAG provisions and the intent of the proposed rule. These added exceptions clarify that the names of stores in shopping malls, building names, and similar types of signs are exempt from these requirements. A new exception exempts signs in parking facilities from compliance with the signage provisions of section 216 except those covering means of egress (216.4) and designation of accessible parking spaces (216.5).

Comment. Commenters requested that seat and row designations in assembly areas be exempt from the requirements for signage. It was also suggested that an exemption be provided for signs in parking facilities which are intended for use by vehicle drivers.

Response. An exception has been included in the final rule for seat and row designations and signs in parking facilities.

Comment. Comments requested clarification on what constitutes a "temporary" sign.

Response. The Board has interpreted this reference, which is included in the original ADAAG, as pertaining to signs that are posted for a short duration. For greater clarity, the Board has described temporary as "seven days or less" in the final rule.

Section 216.2 covers designations of permanent rooms and spaces, including pictograms provided as part of such signs. These types of signs are required to be tactile through the provision of braille and raised characters. This provision has been editorially revised and simplified in the final rule, though its application remains basically unchanged. For example, the term "permanent" as a descriptor of the types of designations covered has been removed as unnecessary since opposite types ("temporary") are exempted.

Comment. Some comments considered the scoping provision for room designations difficult to understand.

Response. In the final rule, requirements for designations in section 216.2 have been simplified without substantive change.

Information and directional signs are addressed by 216.3. These types of signs are not required to be tactile but are subject to requirements for visual legibility and contrast. Signs providing direction to or information about interior spaces and facilities are required to comply. In the final rule, the Board has removed "permanent" as a descriptor of the type of rooms and facilities covered in this provision.

Various signage requirements specific to certain spaces and elements have been relocated for simplicity and ease of reference to section 216. These provisions include:

  • 216.4 Means of Egress (from 207.3, 410.7, 410.8)
  • 216.5 Parking (from 208.3)
  • 216.6 Entrances (from 206.4.8)
  • 216.7 Elevators (from 407.5.7)
  • 216.8 Toilet Rooms and Bathing Rooms (from 213.2.2 and 213.2, Exception 4)
  • 216.9 TTYs (from 217.4.9)
  • 216.10 Assistive Listening Systems (from 219.4)
  • 216.11 Check-Out Aisles (from 227.2.1)
  • 216.12 Amusement Rides (incorporated from guidelines previously issued for recreation facilities)

Substantive changes have been made to provisions for means of egress, parking, assistive listening systems, and check-out aisles.

Section 216.4 provides specific requirements for means of egress, including exit doors, areas of refuge, and directional signs. The proposed rule required tactile signs at exit doors and provided specific requirements for areas of refuge and directional signs. These specifications are substantively revised in the final rule. The requirement for exit doors (216.4.1) has been clarified as applying to "doors at exit passageways, exit discharge, and exit stairways." In the final rule, scoping requirements for means of egress and areas of refuge have been revised to reference provisions in the International Building Code (IBC) as discussed above in section 207. Corresponding changes have been made to signage requirements for areas of refuge (216.4.2) and directional signs (216.4.3) which now reference the respective IBC signage specifications for scoping. Such signs must be provided where required by the IBC but are subject to technical specifications in these guidelines at section 703.

Accessible parking spaces are required to be designated by the International Symbol of Accessibility according to 216.5. This provision was located at 208.3 in the proposed rule. Exemptions are provided for small lots (Exception 1) and spaces individually assigned to residential dwelling units (Exception 2). Under the first exception, accessible spaces in lots with four or fewer spaces are not required to be identified as accessible (i.e., reserved solely for use by people with disabilities). This exception is intended to mitigate the impact of a reserved space in very small lots and stems from model building codes. In the final rule, the scope of this exception was revised by changing the maximum lot size eligible for it from five to four. The exception for residential dwelling unit spaces has not been changed.

Comment. The proposed rule removed a requirement that the access designation for van parking include the term "van accessible" to clarify that both car and van drivers can use such spaces, as was the original intent of ADAAG. Many comments strongly opposed this change. While some may have misinterpreted it as removal of the requirement for van accessible spaces, others considered this designation important in encouraging car drivers to use other accessible spaces over those designed to accommodate vans.

Response. The final rule restores the requirement for van spaces to be designated as "van accessible," which is provided in the technical criteria for parking (502).

Comment. Signs are required to indicate the availability of assistive listening systems, which are required in certain assembly areas (216.10). In the proposed rule, such signs were required at ticket offices and windows. Comments pointed out that some assembly areas subject to this requirement may not have ticket offices or windows.

Response. In the final rule, the requirement has been revised to require signs for assistive listening systems at each assembly area required to provide an assistive listening system, but an exception allows such signs to be located at a ticket office or window instead, where provided.

Comment. Section 216.11 requires identification of accessible check-out aisles. The proposed rule required that this identification be placed in the same location as the identifying number or type of check-out aisle. Commenters noted that not all check-out aisles are distinguished by numbers. They recommended that the guidelines should be revised to ensure access to each type of aisle serving a different function, such as express aisles or cash-only aisles.

Response. The requirement for identification of check-out aisles has been revised to require that accessible designations be located in the same area as the number, letter, or function identifying the check-out aisle. The proposed rule required that accessible designations are not required where "all check-out aisles in the facility are accessible." This provision, which is reformatted as an exception in the final rule, has been revised to apply where "all check-out aisles serving a single function" are accessible.

217 Telephones

Access to telephones is covered for people who use wheelchairs and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Scoping applies to various public telephones, including coin and coin-less pay telephones, closed-circuit telephones, courtesy phones, and other types of public telephones (217.1). Provisions are provided for wheelchair access (217.2), volume controls (217.3), and TTYs (217.4), which are devices that enable people with hearing or speech impairments to communicate through the telephone. Revisions made in finalizing the guidelines include:

  • clarifying coverage of courtesy phones (217.1)
  • applying requirements for wheelchair accessible telephones to exterior sites (217.2)
  • adding an exception for drive-up public telephones (217.2)
  • increasing scoping for volume controls on public telephones (217.3)
  • clarifying the application of TTY scoping requirements to exterior sites (217.4.4)
  • incorporating requirements for transportation facilities, including rail stations and airports, that were previously located in Chapter 10 (217.4.7)
  • relocating TTY signage requirements from 217 to the signage scoping section (216.9)

Comment. Section 217.1 lists various types of public telephones covered by this section. Commenters requested that courtesy phones be addressed along with other types of public phones.

Response. The Board has interpreted the reference to "public telephones" as including courtesy phones but has included a specific reference to them in 217.1 so that their coverage is clear. Such phones are subject to requirements for wheelchair access and volume controls, but they are not covered by TTY requirements, which apply only to public pay telephones.

Comment. Some commenters seemed unclear on whether requirements for wheelchair access applied to exterior installations.

Response. Scoping for wheelchair access in 217.2 was intended to cover interior and exterior public telephones. As proposed, this provision required access to at least one telephone on a floor or level and, where multiple banks are provided, each bank. In the final rule, the Board has added clarification that the requirements for wheelchair accessible phones apply to exterior sites, in addition to floors and levels.

Comment. Comments to the draft of the final guidelines noted that some public telephones are intended for use only from vehicles and recommended that they be exempt from the requirements for wheelchair access.

Response. An exception has been added in the final rule that exempts drive-up-only public telephones from the requirements for wheelchair access (217.2, Exception).

Comment. Comments from persons who are hard of hearing sought an increase in the number of phones required to have volume control. The proposed rule specified a minimum of 25%, but many urged that all public phones should have volume control.

Response. In the final rule, all public telephones are required to be equipped with volume control instead of 25%, as was proposed. This is consistent with other Board guidelines and standards covering access to telecommunications products and electronic and information technology. Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996,16 a comprehensive law overhauling regulation of the telecommunications industry, requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible. The Board was assigned responsibility to issue guidelines pursuant to section 255, which are known as the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines.17 These guidelines require all public telephones to be equipped with volume controls. A similar requirement is contained in standards18 the Board issued under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended,19 which requires access to electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by Federal agencies. Since all new phones are to be equipped with volume controls, the requirement for identifying signage (a specified pictogram featuring a handset with radiating sound waves) has been removed.

General scoping for TTYs in 217.4 includes provisions specific to floors, buildings, and exterior sites and distinguishes between private and public facilities. In private buildings (i.e., places of public accommodation and commercial facilities) where four or more pay phones are provided at a bank, within a floor, building, or on an exterior site, a TTY is required at each such location. A lower threshold is provided for public buildings (i.e., State and local government facilities) where one pay telephone on a floor or within a public use area of a building triggers the requirement for a TTY. In the final rule, the Board has clarified references to "site" as being specific to "exterior sites" to avoid confusion that may arise since the term "site," by itself, can be read to include the buildings on a site. This change helps clarify that TTY scoping requirements for exterior installations is to be satisfied independently from those applicable to interior locations.

218 Transportation Facilities

Section 218 provides requirements for rail stations, fixed guideway systems, bus shelters, and other transit facilities, such as airports. These provisions are based on requirements located in Chapter 10 in the proposed rule. They have been relocated without substantive change from the technical section to this section as they scope specific technical provisions. These technical provisions are now located in section 810.

219 Assistive Listening Systems

This section covers requirements for assistive listening systems and receivers in assembly areas. Section 219.2 requires an assistive listening system in each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the space and audio amplification is provided. However, in courtrooms this requirement applies whether or not audio amplification is provided. Section 219.3 specifies the minimum number of receivers according to a sliding scale based on the seating capacity of the assembly area.

Comment. Facility operators urged the Board to lower the required number of receivers because, in their view, the vast majority of provided receivers go unused. This is especially true at facilities with multiple assembly areas, such as multi-screen movie theaters, where receivers are provided for each assembly area.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that the minimum number is to be based on each assembly area. Thus, where a facility has multiple assembly areas, the required number is to be determined individually for each assembly area based on its seating capacity. However, the Board also has included an exception which would permit the minimum number to be based on the combined seating capacity of multiple assembly areas as an alternative if two conditions are met: all receivers are usable with all provided assistive listening systems; and all assembly areas required to have such systems are under the same management (219.3, Exception 1). This allows "mix and match" types of receivers to generally serve such facilities.

Comment. Assistive listening systems are generally categorized by their mode of transmission. There are hard-wired systems and three types of wireless systems: induction loop, infrared, and FM radio transmission. Induction loop systems use a wire loop to receive input from a sound source and transmit sound by creating a magnetic field within the loop. The loop may surround all or part of a room and can be installed in ceilings, floors, or walls. Listeners must be sitting within the loop and have either a receiver or a hearing aid with a telecoil. People with telecoil hearing aids do not need to use a receiver. In view of this benefit, comments to the draft of the final guidelines recommended that the requirement for receivers specifically recognize that fewer hearing-aid compatible receivers can be specified for induction loop systems.

Response. Section 219.3 specifies the minimum number of receivers for assistive listening systems, including the number of receivers that are hearing-aid compatible. In the final rule, the Board has added an exception for assembly areas where all seats are served by an induction loop system (219.3, Exception 2). Under this exception, the additional amount of receivers required to be hearing-aid compatible is not required at all. For example, at an assembly area with a seating capacity of 500, a total of 20 receivers would generally be required and at least 5 of this number would have to be hearing-aid compatible. Under the exception for induction loop systems that serve all seats of an assembly area, at least 15 receivers would be required instead of 20.

Requirements for signs indicating the availability of assistive listening systems has been relocated from this section to the scoping section on signage (216.10). Revisions to these provisions are discussed above in section 216.

220 Automatic Teller Machines and Fare Machines

No substantive changes have been made to the scoping provisions for automatic teller machines and fare machines. Most comments on these types of machines concerned technical specifications and are discussed below in section 707.

221 Assembly Areas

Provisions in section 221 for accessible assembly areas cover general scoping (221.1), wheelchair spaces (221.2), companion seats (221.3), aisle seating (221.4), and new provisions for lawn seating (221.5).

Section 221.1 contains a general charging statement that assembly areas provide wheelchair spaces, companion seats, and designated aisle seats. The proposed rule contained a similar statement that provided an illustrative list of assembly areas covered by this section, such as motion picture houses, theaters, stadiums, arenas, concert halls, courtrooms, and others. This list has been incorporated into the definition of "assembly area" in section 106.5.

Section 221.2 covers the required number, integration, and dispersion of wheelchair spaces. The minimum number of wheelchair spaces is specified according to the total number of seats provided in an assembly area (Table 221.2.1.1). This requirement applies to seating generally, as well as luxury boxes, club boxes, suites, and other types of boxes. Substantive changes made in the final rule include:

  • limiting the requirements for wheelchair spaces to assembly areas with fixed seating (221.2)
  • lowering scoping for assembly areas with over 500 seats (Table 221.2.1.1)
  • adding a new provision for box seating (221.2.1.3)
  • clarifying requirements for integration of wheelchair spaces (221.2.2)
  • revising and relocating dispersion requirements for wheelchair spaces (221.2.3)
  • modifying provisions for companion seating (221.3) and designated aisle seating (221.4)
  • adding a new provision for lawn seating (221.5)
  • removing a specification concerning vertical access (221.5 in the proposed rule)

The Board has clarified in the final rule that wheelchair spaces are required in assembly areas with "fixed seating." This is consistent with the original ADAAG, but not the proposed rule, which did not specify that seating had to be fixed. This descriptor was restored because it is fixed seating that typically defines wheelchair spaces as a permanent feature, consistent with the scope of these guidelines.

Comment. The minimum number of wheelchair spaces is specified according to a sliding scale. A lower percentage is specified for larger facilities. The proposed rule specified 1% scoping (on top of 6 required wheelchair spaces) for assembly areas with over 500 seats. Comments from industry recommended that scoping should be lowered for larger facilities since industry surveys indicate that the vast majority of wheelchair spaces, particularly in stadiums and arenas, often go unused. A coalition representing major sports leagues, teams, and facilities throughout the U.S. conducted a two-year survey of usage of wheelchair spaces at 40 major arenas and stadiums during basketball, hockey, and baseball events. This survey found that of the 1% of seats made accessible in arenas, approximately 12% (0.12% of the total number of seats) were occupied by persons using wheelchairs; the assessed usage rate at baseball stadiums was 7% of the accessible seats (0.07% of the total number of seats). The coalition considered the 1% minimum scoping far in excess of the demonstrated need in large sports arenas. These and other industry comments urged the Board to reduce the required number to at least the amount recommended by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee. The advisory committee had recommended a 0.5% scoping requirement for assembly areas with over 500 seats based on similar information concerning usage. Industry comments considered 0.5% as more than adequate in meeting the demand for accessible seating.

Response. The Board has reduced the scoping for wheelchair spaces in assembly areas with more than 500 seats. Scoping has been reduced from 1% to a ratio of 1 wheelchair space for every 150 seats in assembly areas with 501 to 5,000 seats. This is required on top of a requirement of six wheelchair spaces, consistent with the scoping count for the first 500 seats. A further reduction to 0.5% scoping, the level recommended by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee, is specified for assembly areas with over 5,000 seats. The 0.5% scoping requirement is applied on top of a requirement for 36 spaces, which follows the scoping level for the first 5,000 seats. For example, in assembly facilities with 5,000 seats, the final rule requires that at least 36 spaces be accessible, whereas the scoping in the proposed rule would have specified 51 spaces minimum. The minimum number for facilities with 10,000 seats is 61 (reduced from 101), and for those with 50,000 seats is 261 (reduced from 501).

Comment. In certain performing arts facilities, seating may be provided in tiered boxes for spatial and acoustical purposes. Often, steps are located on the route to these boxes. The proposed rule was not clear on how the scoping and dispersion requirements would apply in these types of facilities. Comments noted that requiring accessible routes to all boxes would fundamentally affect this type of design and recommended that an exception be made for such venues.

Response. Wheelchair spaces are required to be provided in each luxury box, club box, and suite according to a scoping table (221.2.1.2). The Board has clarified in the final rule that this requirement applies where such boxes and suites are provided in "arenas, stadiums, and grandstands." A new provision has been added for other types of assembly facilities, such as certain performing arts facilities, that may have tiered box seating (221.2.1.3). Under this provision, wheelchair spaces are determined according to the total number of fixed box seats and are required to be dispersed among at least 20% of the boxes. For example, if an assembly area has 20 boxes with five fixed seats each (totaling 100 seats), at least four wheelchair spaces would be required according to the scoping table. These four wheelchair spaces would have to be dispersed among at least four (20%) of the 20 boxes. This requirement clarifies that each box does not have to be treated separately as a discreet assembly facility individually subject to the scoping table, as is the case with luxury boxes and club boxes.

A provision for team and player seating areas is included in the final rule (221.2.1.4). This provision, which derives from the Board’s guidelines for recreation facilities, requires at least one wheelchair space in team or player seating areas serving areas of sports activity. An exception is provided for seating areas serving bowling lanes.

Under section 221.2.2, wheelchair spaces must be integrated throughout seating areas. In the final rule, the Board has clarified this requirement to state that wheelchair spaces "shall be an integral part of the seating plan."

The original ADAAG required that wheelchair spaces be provided so that users are afforded a choice in sight lines that is comparable to that of the general public. Thus, while individuals who use wheelchairs need not be provided with the best seats in an assembly area, neither may they be relegated to the worst. In this rulemaking, the Board has sought to clarify specifications for lines of sight from wheelchair spaces. Specifically, the final rule clearly recognizes that viewing angles are essential components of lines of sight and that various factors, such as the distance from performance areas and the location of wheelchair spaces within a row, also greatly determine the quality of sight lines.

Section 221.2.3 covers dispersion of wheelchair spaces and lines of sight. Wheelchair spaces are required to be dispersed to provide users with choices of seating locations and viewing angles substantially equal to or better than the choices afforded all other spectators. Spaces must be dispersed horizontally and vertically. Horizontal dispersion pertains to the lateral, or side to side, location of spaces relative to the ends of rows. Provisions for vertical dispersion address the placement of wheelchair spaces at varying distances front to back from the performance area, screen, or playing field. Exceptions from the dispersion requirements are provided for assembly areas with 300 seats or less. In addition, an exception from the lines of sight and dispersion requirements is provided for wheelchair spaces in team or player seating areas serving areas of sports activity. Various changes have been made to the requirements for dispersion based on comments and responses to a number of questions posed by the Board in the proposed rule. The specifications of section 221.2.3 replace those in the proposed rule that were included in the technical criteria for wheelchair spaces at section 802.6.

In the final rule, the Board has added exceptions to the requirement for horizontal dispersion. Horizontal dispersion is not required in assembly areas with 300 seats or less where wheelchair spaces and companion seats are provided in the center sections of a row (the second or third quartile) instead of at the ends (221.2.3.1, Exception 1). This exception derives from the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard and recognizes that viewing angles at the mid-sections of rows are generally better than those at the ends of rows. In addition, the Board has clarified that two wheelchair spaces can be paired, but each must have a companion seat, as required by 221.3 (221.2.3.1, Exception 2). This exception applies to all assembly areas, not just those with 300 or fewer seats.

Assembly areas with 300 or fewer seats are not required to have vertically dispersed wheelchair spaces so long as the spaces provide viewing angles that are equal to or better than the average viewing angle (221.2.3.2, Exception 1). An exception from the vertical dispersion requirement is provided for bleachers which allows spaces to be provided only in the point of entry (221.2.3.2, Exception 2).

Comment. The proposed rule required dispersion that provides "a choice of admission prices ... comparable to that provided to other spectators." Comments from designers indicated that the admission price criterion is problematic since prices are not typically known in the design and construction phase. Accommodating choice in admission price is more realistically addressed as an operational matter by facility operators and managers.

Response. The Board believes that the dispersion requirement pertaining to admission prices is better addressed by regulations, such as those maintained by the Department of Justice under the ADA, that govern policies and procedures, instead of by these design guidelines. The reference to admission prices has been removed from the requirement for dispersion.

Comment. The proposed rule also addressed dispersion in terms of sight lines and required "a choice of ... viewing angles comparable to that provided to other spectators." This provision was intended to clarify a requirement in the original ADAAG that wheelchair spaces provide a choice in lines of sight comparable to those available to the general public. The Board questioned whether this restatement was sufficient and sought comment on whether this provision should be enhanced to require "lines of sight equivalent to or better than" those afforded the majority of other spectators in the same seating class or category (Question 43). Disability groups and persons with disabilities strongly favored such a change to ensure equivalency in the viewing experience. According to these comments, the proposed rule would permit location of wheelchair spaces in a manner that compromises the quality of viewing angles. Industry opposed holding wheelchair spaces to a higher standard in terms of the quality of viewing angles. Such commenters pointed to practical complications in comparing viewing angles between wheelchair spaces and inaccessible seating.

Response. The Board has revised the specification for dispersion so that persons using wheelchair spaces are provided "choices of seating locations and viewing angles that are substantially equivalent to, or better than, the choices of seating locations and viewing angles available to all other spectators" (221.2.3). This provision ensures equivalency in the range of viewing angles provided between wheelchair seating and all other seats. It recognizes, but does not mandate, a better range of viewing angles for the users of wheelchair spaces.

Comment. The proposed rule, like the original ADAAG, required dispersion of wheelchair spaces in assembly areas with more than 300 seats. The Board sought comment on whether this trigger should be lowered so that dispersion would be provided in smaller assembly spaces (Question 42). The Board was concerned about the possible impacts of such a change on certain assembly types, such as stadium-style cinemas, and sought further information on their design, including the average number of seats provided per screen. Designers and operators of all types of assembly facilities were encouraged to comment on the impact of reducing the triggering point from 300 to 250, 200, or 150 seats. Quality sight lines in facilities where dispersion may not be required, such as stadium-style theaters, was a primary concern voiced by commenters with disabilities. The majority of comments recommended lowering the threshold for dispersion requirements, though there was little consensus on a specific alternative number.

Response. The point at which dispersion is required (over 300 seats) has been retained in the final rule. Dispersion is not required in assembly areas with 300 or fewer seats provided that certain conditions concerning viewing angles are met. These conditions are specified in relation to horizontal and vertical dispersion.

Comment. In smaller facilities where dispersion of wheelchair spaces is not required (i.e., those with no more than 300 seats), the placement of the wheelchair spaces in relation to other seating acquires greater significance because wheelchair users are not offered a choice of viewing angles. Therefore, in order to ensure equal opportunity for people who use wheelchairs in assembly areas in which dispersion is not required, wheelchair spaces must provide lines of sight that are comparable to those provided for most of the other patrons in the assembly area. The Board sought comment on whether this requirement, specific to facilities where dispersion is not mandated, should require lines of sight from wheelchair spaces that are equivalent to or better than the line of sight provided for the majority of event spectators (Question 44). Persons with disabilities and organizations representing them unanimously backed this provision. The issue was considered particularly relevant in stadium-style seating and other smaller assembly areas where, despite the requirements for comparable lines of sight in the original ADAAG, wheelchair spaces are typically located only in the front or back rows.

Response. The final rule makes the provision of equivalent lines of site a specific condition for not having to disperse wheelchair spaces in assembly areas with 300 or fewer seats. Wheelchair spaces do not have to be dispersed vertically (i.e., front to back), so long as the viewing angle from them is equal to, or better than, the average viewing angle provided in the facility (221.2.3.2). Wheelchair spaces and companion seats do not have to be dispersed horizontally (i.e., side to side) if they are located in the mid-sections of rows (second or third quartile of the total row length) instead of at or near the ends of rows (221.2.3.1). This condition for horizontal dispersion is required to the extent that the mid-section row is long enough to accommodate the requisite number of wheelchair spaces and companion seats; if it is not, some may be located beyond the mid-section portion (in the first or fourth quartile of the total row length).

Comment. The proposed rule specified vertical dispersion so that wheelchair spaces are located at "varying distances" from the performing area (802.6.3). Comment was sought on whether the term "varying distances" provides sufficient guidance in achieving dispersion (Question 41). The Board asked whether a minimum separation between horizontal rows should be specified. Most comments, including those from individuals with disabilities and from industry, considered this term too vague and supported a more specific or quantifiable requirement. Few specific alternatives to this language were recommended.

Response. The Board has retained the reference to "varying distances" in the final rule (221.2.3.2). Since the requirement applies to a wide variety of assembly facilities of different sizes and designs, the Board does not consider it practical to specify a particular vertical separation or distance requirement. Meeting the requirement for vertical dispersion is highly relevant to the size of the facility, the range of sight lines available, elevation changes, and other design characteristics. Clarification has been added that the dispersion requirement pertains to the distance from the "screen, performance area, or playing field." The proposed rule made reference only to performance areas. This revision clarifies coverage of elements and events, such as movie screens and sporting events.

Comment. The proposed rule reflected the importance of providing individuals with disabilities with selections from a variety of vantage points to enjoy performances and sporting events. The Board requested comment on whether there are conditions where vertical (i.e., front to back) separation between wheelchair spaces is not desirable and if there is a point at which increased distance fails to improve accessibility or to contribute significantly to equal opportunity (Question 40). Of the few comments which addressed this question, the majority called attention to the importance of vertical dispersion in providing equivalency in the quality of the viewing experience. Some comments considered adequate integration of wheelchair spaces to be equally important or expressed concern about vertical separation that results in longer travel distances from restrooms, concessions, and other amenities.

Response. The Board has not included any new conditional limitations on the requirements for vertical dispersion of wheelchair seating in achieving appropriate viewing angles (other than an exception for bleacher seating).

Comment. Bleacher manufacturers requested clarification on how dispersion requirements would apply to bleachers, which have been interpreted as exempt under original ADAAG specifications.

Response. The final rule includes an exception for bleacher seating that allows spaces to be provided in the point of entry only (221.2.3.2, Exception 2). An advisory note clarifies that "points of entry" at bleachers may include cross aisles, concourses, vomitories, and entrance ramps and stairs.

Comment. In costing out changes made in the proposed rule, the Board estimated that vertical dispersion requirements could cost as much as $11 million for each "large" (50,000 seats) stadium or arena to provide vertical dispersion in uppermost decks. According to the Board’s regulatory assessment, "in order to accommodate the additional dispersion required by this item, it is assumed that an upper deck concourse will be required for the facility. These large facilities generally have a lower deck, a middle deck (with suites and/or club level amenities), and an upper deck. The steep slopes used in the upper deck make it impractical to accommodate accessible routes with more than a minimal change in level up or down from the vomitory access point within the seating bowl. The dispersion requirement based on admission pricing and the vertical dispersion requirement will generally require that a more substantial change in level be accommodated outside the seating bowl for the upper deck area. It is assumed that an additional concourse, of 50,000 square feet in area, will be used to provide access to the upper deck at an additional level." The Board sought information on alternatives to constructing a secondary concourse that would provide vertical dispersion in upper decks of larger stadiums (Question 39). Few comments or suggested alternatives were provided in response. A few comments stressed the importance of vertical dispersion, while others felt it was necessary to weigh such requirements against the possible design and cost impacts.

Response. The Board has retained requirements for vertical dispersion that are substantively similar to the specifications in the proposed rule. However, as noted above, the final rule does not require wheelchair spaces to be dispersed based on admission prices since pricing is not always established at the design phase and may vary by event. Instead of requiring wheelchair spaces to be vertically dispersed on each accessible level, the final guidelines require wheelchair spaces to be vertically dispersed at varying distances from the screen, performance area, or playing field. The final guidelines also require wheelchair spaces to be located in each balcony or mezzanine served by an accessible route. In most sports facilities, these requirements can be met by locating some wheelchair spaces on each accessible level of the sports facility.

Comment. The proposed rule contained a requirement that where elevators or wheelchair lifts are provided on an accessible route to wheelchair spaces or designated aisle seats, they shall be provided in "such number, capacity, and speed" in order to provide a level of service equivalent to that provided in the same seating area to patrons who can use stairs or other means of vertical access (221.5 in the proposed rule). This requirement was included to ensure an equal level of convenience between accessible seating and inaccessible seating in terms of travel between the entry gate and seats or between the seats and concession stands. Most commenters did not support this requirement, and considered it unenforceable and confusing. Some commenters misunderstood the intent of this provision and thought it pertained specifically to egress routes.

Response. The Board has removed the requirement concerning the number, capacity, and speed of elevators and wheelchair lifts in providing an equivalent level of service.

Section 221.3 covers companion seats which are to be paired with wheelchair spaces. The proposed rule specified that companion seats be readily removable so as to provide additional space for a wheelchair. In the final rule, companion seats are permitted to be movable. Thus, they are not required to double as an alternative wheelchair space.

Comment. The Board sought information on the impact of the requirement that each wheelchair space have an adjacent companion seat that can be removed to provide an adjoining wheelchair space (Question 10). Comments noted that this requirement effectively doubles the scoping requirements for wheelchair spaces and that the required extra space would significantly increase construction costs. Several comments noted that more flexibility for both wheelchair spectators and the facility could be achieved by allowing companion seats to be movable; however, comments noted that some building codes may require companion seats to be fixed. Another solution put forward was the use of seating that folded and swung away, leaving enough space for a wheelchair position.

Response. The final rule requires one companion seat for each wheelchair space, but allows the seat to be movable. This seat is not required to provide an additional wheelchair space when removed.

Comment. In the belief that readily removable seats should provide a companion with virtually the same experience in terms of comfort and usability as other fixed seats, the Board asked what specific characteristics they should have relative to other seats (Question 11). The majority of comments strongly favored requirements for companion seats to be equivalent or comparable to other provided seating in the same assembly area.

Response. The Board has included technical criteria for companion seats that requires them to be equivalent to other seats in the immediate area in terms of quality, size, comfort, and amenities (802.3).

Section 221.4 addresses designated aisle seats. The Board has significantly lowered the number of designated aisle seats required to be accessible. An exception from the requirement for designated aisle seats for team or player seating areas serving areas of sports activity has been incorporated into the final rule from the guidelines for recreation facilities.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that 1% of all seats be designated aisle seats, a quarter of which were to be located on accessible routes and the rest not more than 2 rows from an accessible route. The Board requested information on the cost and related design impacts of this requirement, particularly in locating aisle seats at or no more than two rows from an accessible route (Question 12). Comments stated that requiring designated aisle seats to be on an accessible route would require more space and entrances to seating areas and would result in the loss of seating space. Comments further stated that this would require a significant increase in the cost of such facilities.

Response. The Board has reduced the overall scoping for designated aisle seats. The final rule requires that 5% of aisle seats, not all seats, be designated aisle seats. These seats are required to be those closest to, but not necessarily on, an accessible route. Technical requirements for aisle seats at 802.4 have also been modified.

Section 221.5 provides a new requirement that addresses lawn seating and exterior overflow areas. Such areas are required to be connected by an accessible route. The accessible route is required to extend up to, but not through, lawn seating areas. Since such areas typically do not provide fixed seating, this provision does not require wheelchair spaces, companion seats, or designated aisle seats.

Comment. Where public address systems are provided in transportation facilities to convey public information, a means of conveying the same or equivalent information to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing is required. In the proposed rule, the Board sought comment on whether additional provisions for an equivalent means of communication should be applied to other types of facilities (Question 45). The Board was specifically interested in how captioning can be associated with electronic scoreboards in stadiums to convey audible public announcements. People who are deaf or heard of hearing strongly urged that requirements for access to information conveyed through public address systems be applied to all types of facilities, not just transportation facilities.

Response. The Board considered adding a provision (included in the draft final rule) that would have required the visual display of audible pre-recorded or real-time messages where electronic signs are provided in stadiums, arenas, or grandstands. This provision would not have required provision of electronic signs, but instead would have specified that, where provided, they be used to display information to deaf or hard-of-hearing spectators provided audibly during an event. Since this requirement would have been more pertinent to facility operations than to facility design, the Board did not include it in the final rule. Providing "effective communications" is within the purview of the Department of Justice and is addressed in the Department’s title II and III regulations. See 28 CFR 35.160 and 28 CFR 36.203(c).

222 Dressing, Fitting, and Locker Rooms

Section 222 covers dressing rooms, fitting rooms, and locker rooms. At least 5% of each type, in each cluster, is required to be accessible. A requirement for coat hooks and shelves located at 228.4 in the proposed rule has been relocated for clarity to this section (222.2).

223 Medical Care and Long-Term Care Facilities

This section indicates the number of patient or resident sleeping rooms required to be accessible in medical care and long-term care facilities. The general scoping provision at 223.1 indicates that the facilities covered by this section include medical care facilities and licensed long-term care facilities where the period of stay exceeds 24 hours. Section 223.2 covers hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric facilities, and detoxification facilities. In general, those facilities are held to a 10% scoping requirement, but those that specialize in the treatment of conditions affecting mobility are subject to a 100% scoping requirement. In long-term care facilities, 50% of the rooms must be accessible.

Changes made in the final rule include:

  • modifying the description of the facilities covered by this section (223.1)
  • adding a new exception for toilet rooms in critical care and intensive care patient sleeping rooms (223.1)
  • clarifying the application of scoping requirements to rehabilitation facilities (223.2)
  • revising the scoping requirement for long-term care facilities to apply to "each type" of resident sleeping room (223.3)

Comment. Comments considered it unnecessary to qualify covered medical care facilities as those that are licensed, since all are typically licensed.

Response. The general charging statement (223.1) has been changed to refer to "medical care facilities and licensed long-term care facilities." In addition, the Board has removed as unnecessary language describing these facilities as places "where people receive physical or medical treatment or care."

Comment. There are certain types of patient rooms, such as those provided in critical or intensive care units where patients who are critically ill are immobile or confined to beds and thus generally not expected to use adjoining toilet rooms. Typically, such patients are relocated to other types of rooms when no longer confined to beds. Comments recommended that toilet rooms serving these types of rooms should not have to be accessible.

Response. An exception has been added that permits toilet rooms in critical care and intensive care patient sleeping rooms to be inaccessible (223.1, Exception).

Section 223.2 addresses scoping for hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric facilities, and detoxification facilities. The Board has clarified the distinction made in scoping between facilities that specialize in the treatment of conditions affecting mobility (100%) and those that do not (10%), including rehabilitation facilities.

Comment. The Board sought comment on how dispersion of accessible sleeping rooms can be effectively achieved and maintained in medical care facilities such as hospitals and long-term care facilities (Question 13). Commenters with disabilities supported a requirement for dispersion of accessible sleeping rooms among all types of medical specialty areas, such as obstetrics, orthopedics, pediatrics, and cardiac care. Conversely, commenters representing the health care industry pointed out that treatment areas in health care facilities can be very fluid due to fluctuation in the population and other demographic and medical funding trends. Comments indicated that in long-term care facilities, access is provided at rooms that are less desirable than others available in the facility. Commenters recommended that the final rule should include a requirement that ensures that accessibility is fairly dispersed among different types of rooms in long-term care facilities.

Response. The Board has not added a requirement for dispersion in medical care facilities because compliance over the life-time of the facility could prove difficult given the need for flexibility of spaces within such facilities. However, an advisory note has been added to encourage dispersion of accessible rooms within the facility so that accessible rooms are more likely to be proximate to appropriate qualified staff and resources. Since these considerations are not as relevant to long-term care facilities, the Board has added a requirement that the 50% scoping requirement for long-term care facilities be applied to "each type" of resident sleeping room provided to ensure dispersion among all types (223.3).

224 Transient Lodging Guest Rooms

The minimum number of guest rooms required to be accessible in transient lodging facilities is covered in section 224. Access is addressed for people with disabilities, including those with mobility impairments (224.2) and people who are deaf or hard of hearing (224.4). In addition to rooms, there is a provision which addresses the number of beds required to be accessible in facilities such as homeless shelters, where a room may have a large number of beds. (224.3). Revisions of this section include:

  • removal of the exception for certain bed-and-breakfast facilities (224.1), which are now exempted through the definition of "transient lodging" provided in section 106
  • clarification of a provision covering doors and doorways in inaccessible transient lodging guest rooms (224.1.2)
  • revised scoping for accessible beds (224.3)
  • reduced scoping for guest rooms with accessible communication features (224.4)
  • modified dispersion requirements (224.5)

The definition of "transient lodging" in section 106.5 has been revised to exclude, in part, "private buildings or facilities that contain not more than five rooms for rent or hire and that are actually occupied by the proprietor as the residence of such proprietor." As a result, an exception for such facilities in 225.1 has been removed.

Comment. In transient lodging facilities, doors and doorways in inaccessible guest rooms are required to be at least 32 inches wide (224.1.2). This specification stems from the original ADAAG and is intended to afford some access to inaccessible guest rooms for visitation purposes. Clarification was requested on which types of doors this is intended to cover and whether it applies to shower doors.

Response. In the final rule, clarification has been added that the 32 inch minimum clearance applies to those doors "providing user passage" into and within guest rooms not required to be accessible. In addition, the Board has added an exception that exempts shower and sauna doors in inaccessible guest rooms from this requirement. Corresponding changes have been made to a similar provision in the general scoping section for doors (206.5.3).

Comment. A hotel and motel trade group opposed any increase in the number of guest rooms required to be accessible and submitted a study it commissioned on the usage of such rooms. According to this study, 80% of accessible guest rooms remain unused by people with disabilities. This trade group also submitted comments to the draft final guidelines that included a statistical study of the number of persons who use wheelchairs based on U.S. census data (1.03% of the population age 15 years and older). Based on this information, this commenter requested that the required number of accessible guest rooms be reduced to a level consistent with assessed usage rates and population estimates.

Response. The proposed rule was consistent with the recommendations of the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee and preserved, without increase, the number of accessible guest rooms (224.2). The number of accessible guest rooms is also consistent with the International Building Code. Accessible guest rooms include features such as grab bars and other elements that benefit not only people who use wheelchairs, but also people who use crutches, canes, and walkers. Data provided by the Disability Statistics Center at the University of California, San Francisco shows that the number of adults who use wheelchairs has been increasing at the rate of 6 percent per year from 1969 to 1999; and by 2010, it is projected that 2 percent of the adult population will use wheelchairs. In addition to people who use wheelchairs, 3 percent of adults used crutches, canes, walkers and other mobility devices in 1999; and the number is projected to increase to 4 percent by 2010. Thus, by 2010, up to 6 percent of the population may need accessible guest rooms.

Data submitted by the hotel and motel trade group showed that hotel stays are almost equally divided between business travel and non-business travel. Non-business travelers usually travel as members of a household or group for vacation, special events, or leisure. In 1999, 2.3 percent of households had an adult member who uses a wheelchair; and by 2010, it is projected that 4 percent of households will have an adult member who uses a wheelchair. In addition to households with an adult member who uses a wheelchair, 7 percent of households had an adult member who used canes, crutches, walkers or other mobility devices in 1999; and the number is projected to increase to 9 percent by 2010. Thus, by 2010, up to 13 percent of households will have adult members who may need accessible guest rooms.

The Board recognizes that all the people and households that may benefit from an accessible guest room may not specifically request an accessible room, and the scoping levels reflect this fact. The statistical study submitted by the hotel and motel trade group assumed independence in accessible room requests. In reality, accessible room requests are likely to be somewhat correlated, due to hotel preferences or group travel. For smaller hotels, a slight violation of the independence assumption could lead to a higher sellout rate, as these hotels have relatively fewer accessible rooms. The hotel and motel trade group also submitted data on actual accessible room reservation requests for select hotels that implied the current demand for accessible rooms is closer to 0.8 percent than 1 percent, as in their original study. However, this sample was likely not representative and the study did not take into account data showing that the population who needs accessible rooms is growing. Hotels constructed in the next few years will serve the population for decades to come. Because of the problems with the assumptions used in the statistical study and the failure to consider future needs, the Board concluded that a reduction in the number of accessible guest rooms is not warranted.

The hotel and motel trade group has pointed out that the Board has reduced the scoping for wheelchair spaces in assembly areas by 0.33 percent for assembly areas with 501 to 5,000 seats, and by 0.5 percent for assembly areas with more than 5,000 seats. However, the hotel and motel trade group has proposed a much greater reduction in the number of accessible rooms for all size hotels with more than 50 rooms. For example, they proposed that hotels with 100 rooms provide 40 percent fewer accessible rooms (3 accessible rooms, instead of the 5 accessible rooms currently required). There are important difference between large assembly areas such as sports stadiums which may have 50,000 to 70,000 seats, and hotels. Only 1 percent of hotels have more than 500 rooms. These hotels cater to meetings and conferences sponsored by groups who reserve large numbers of rooms. Disability groups and organizations may hold meetings and conferences at these hotels and need large numbers of accessible rooms. For all these reasons, the number of accessible guest rooms has not been changed in the final rule.

Comment. The proposed rule addressed access to beds according to a table based on the total number provided in a guest room. This table, as recommended by the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee, included bed counts well into the hundreds. The table followed a sliding scale that started with roughly a 4% requirement (1 per 25 beds provided in a room) which decreased to 3% (for over 500 beds) and then to 2% (for over 1,000 beds). Comments considered the upper levels covered by the table as ridiculously high and suggested a simpler and more realistic provision.

Response. The scoping table for beds has been removed in the final rule and replaced by a flat 5% requirement that applies where more than 25 beds are provided in a guest room. Technical requirements for guest rooms require at least one bed in a sleeping room to be accessible. This provision would govern in rooms with 25 or fewer beds.

The guidelines address rooms required to provide communication features accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, including visual notification of fire alarms, telephone calls, and door knocks or bells. Telephones in such rooms must have volume controls and nearby outlets for the installation of TTYs. The Board had proposed increasing the minimum number of such guest rooms to 50% of the total number of guest rooms provided. This contrasted significantly with the original ADAAG, which specified the minimum number according to a sliding scale. It required 1 in 25 rooms to comply up to a guestroom count of 100. Scoping successively decreased to 1 for every 50 rooms for the next 101 to 200 rooms and to 1 for every 100 rooms for the next 201 to 500 rooms. For facilities with 501 to 1,000 rooms, 2% of rooms were required to comply, and where the room count exceeded 1,000, the scoping dropped to 1% (ADAAG 9.1.3). The original ADAAG also required that all accessible guest rooms be equipped with communication features in addition to the number of rooms required to provide communication access only (ADAAG 9.2.2(8)).

The Board had proposed the increased scoping for guestrooms with accessible communication for several reasons. The communication features addressed in this requirement address life safety in providing visual notification of fire alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Board also felt that the increased scoping would afford greater flexibility in the guest room assignment of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, especially in light of revisions to the technical requirements that effectively preclude the use of portable visual alarm devices. In addition, permanent installation of visual alarm appliances is considerably less expensive and easier to achieve as part of facility design and construction than as a retrofit.

Comment. The Board sought information on the new construction cost impact of the proposed increased scoping and also asked whether exceptions should be provided for altered facilities or additions (Question 14). The hotel and motel industry strongly opposed increasing scoping for rooms providing communication access to 50%, which it considered unsubstantiated and unsupported by the assessed need. The industry considers the original ADAAG specification, which is substantially lower than 50%, to be excessive in view of its assessments on the usage rate of such rooms by persons with disabilities. People who have photosensitive epilepsy also opposed the proposed increase because the potential for triggering seizures would be too great. On the other hand, many comments from persons who are deaf or hard of hearing voiced strong support for maintaining or further increasing the proposed 50% requirement. In the belief that some transient lodging facilities have adopted voluntary policies requiring permanently installed visual alarms in all or a majority of newly constructed guest rooms, the Board sought information on such cases (Question 15). Commenters responded that they were unaware of any such corporate policies.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has reduced the scoping for guest rooms with accessible communication features to the level specified by the original ADAAG. The Board has included some limited changes from the original ADAAG scoping for consistency with the International Building Code (IBC). The minimum number required to comply is based on the number of rooms provided: 2 - 25 (2), 26 - 50 (4), 51 - 75 (7), 76 - 100 (9), 101 - 150 (12), 151 - 200 (14), 201 - 300 (17), 301 - 400 (20), 401 - 500 (22), 501 - 1,000 (5% of total), 1,001 and over (50, plus 3 for each 100 over 1,000). These levels slightly differ from the original ADAAG at the higher levels (401 rooms and above). The numbers are consistent with the IBC except that the IBC scoping does not apply to facilities with less than 6 guest rooms.

Comment. The industry also objected to requiring alarm appliances to be permanently installed. One hotel chain commented that their deaf and hard of hearing guests preferred portable appliances because these can be used in any guest room. This point was contradicted by comments from deaf and hard of hearing commenters and advisory committee members who urged permanent installation.

Response. The Board has elected to reference the NFPA 72-1999 National Fire Alarm Code and has included a requirement that appliances be permanently installed. The Board believes that the hospitality industry can best guarantee deaf and hard of hearing guests the same level of protection as hearing guest by providing them visual devices that are part of the same fire alarm system that alerts hearing guests. Fire alarm systems must pass rigorous installation standards and frequent inspections. To date, the Board is unaware of any portable equipment that satisfies the requirements of the referenced standard. Even if portable equipment satisfying this standard were available, there is still a key concern that their installation, when not supervised by a trained professional, would not guarantee proper location and visibility of the signal. The NFPA 72 includes criteria for the appropriate location of the visual alarm appliance within the guest room. Deaf and hard of hearing travelers have reported that hotel staff have installed portable alarms on the floor, under furniture, and in other locations that do not satisfy the requirements of the referenced standard.

Section 224.5 requires dispersion of accessible rooms among the various classes of rooms provided, including room type, bed count, and other amenities to a degree comparable to the choices provided other guests. When complete dispersion is not possible due to the number of rooms required to be accessible, dispersion is to be provided in the following order of priority: room type, bed count, and amenities.

The proposed rule required communication access in half of the accessible guestrooms in addition to the number required in section 224.4. The Board considered removing this requirement and stipulating that there be no overlap between the dispersion of accessible rooms and communication accessible rooms, as indicated in the draft of the final guidelines. The Board sought to prevent such overlap to maximize the availability of each room type and proposed that a similar change be made in the IBC. This change was not adopted into the IBC, in part due to consideration of persons using wheelchairs who may need accessible communication features. The IBC does not require or prohibit overlap between both types of rooms. In the final rule, the Board has revised the dispersion requirement to allow some overlap (10% maximum) between rooms and to ensure that at least one room provides both wheelchair access and communication access. Thus, no more than 10% of the accessible rooms can be used to satisfy the required number of rooms providing communication access. Communication access can be provided in a greater number of accessible rooms, but the amount in excess of 10% cannot count toward the number of rooms required to provide communication access.

Comment. Comments urged that dispersion should be based on bed count, instead of bed type. People with disabilities, especially those who traveled with attendants, felt that bed type or size was not as important as the number of beds.

Response. The criteria for dispersion is also modified. In the list of factors that define various classes of rooms, the Board has replaced "types of beds" with "number of beds."

225 Storage

This section covers storage elements and facilities, including lockers, self-service shelving, and self-service storage facilities. In the proposed rule, these elements and spaces were covered in two separate sections: 225 (Self-Service Storage Facilities) and 228 (Storage). In the final rule, these sections have been combined into one for clarity. No substantive changes have been made to these provisions.

A scoping provision for coat hooks and shelves that was located at 228.4 has been moved and revised. Since this provision is specific to certain types of spaces, it is now located among scoping requirements covering toilet rooms and compartments (213.3.8), and dressing, fitting, and locker rooms (222.2), as discussed above at these sections.

226 Dining Surfaces and Work Surfaces

Provisions for access to dining and work surfaces have been revised to:

  • further define dining surfaces as those used "for the consumption of food or drink" (226.1)
  • clarify that the types of work surfaces covered do not include those surfaces used by employees, since elements of work stations are not required to comply with these guidelines (226.1)
  • exempt sales and service counters from this section, which are covered instead by section 227 (226.1, Exception 1)
  • exempt check-writing surfaces at inaccessible check-out aisles (226.1, Exception 2)

Comment. These guidelines generally do not require elements of a work station to be accessible. Concern was expressed that the reference to "work surfaces" may be confused as covering surfaces that are part of a work area or station.

Response. Clarification has been added that this section applies to work surfaces that are provided "for use by other than employees." In addition, the Board has specified that the type of dining surface covered are those provided "for the consumption of food or drink."

Comment. Some comments reflected a misunderstanding that this section also applied to sales counters and other elements that are addressed in section 227 (Sales and Service).

Response. The final rule includes two clarifying exceptions. Exception 1 indicates that sales and service counters, which are addressed in section 227 (Sales and Service), are not required to comply with the requirements for dining and work surfaces. Exception 2 acknowledges that check writing surfaces are a type of work surface and that those provided at inaccessible check-out aisles are not required to comply.

227 Sales and Service

Section 227 covers access to check-out aisles (227.2), sales and service counters (227.3), food service lines (227.4), and queues and waiting lines (227.5). The general charging statement has been editorially revised to clearly indicate coverage of these various elements. The title of this section has been changed to "Sales and Service" instead of "Sales and Service Counters" since some of the provisions it contains apply to elements that may not have a counter, such as check-out aisles and waiting lines.

Requirements for check-out aisles have been revised to clarify access to check-out aisles serving different functions (227.2). In addition, the final rule restores an exception for smaller facilities that allows one check-out aisle to be accessible (227.2, Exception). Signage requirements for accessible check-out aisles have been modified and relocated to section 216.11, as discussed above.

Generally, check-out aisles are required to be accessible according to a scoping table in 227.2. In the proposed rule, this table specified access according to the number of check-out aisles provided for "each function." However, the corresponding scoping provision did not fully correlate with the table because it specified that "at least one" accessible check-out aisle be provided for each function. In the final rule, this provision has been revised to be consistent with the scoping of the table.

Comment. The original ADAAG provided an exception for facilities with less than 5,000 square feet of selling space which allowed only one check-out aisle to be accessible regardless of the number or different types of aisles provided. This exception has been provided to limit the impact of accessible check-out aisles on smaller facilities. The Board had removed this exception in the proposed rule because it reasoned that most facilities that would qualify for it would likely have only one check-out aisle or use sales counters instead of check-out aisles. Commenters disagreed, indicating that such facilities may have multiple check-out aisles. Thus, the exception should be restored.

Response. The exception has been included in the final rule (227.2, Exception).

228 Depositories, Vending Machines, Change Machines, and Mail Boxes

No substantive changes have been made to the scoping requirements for depositories, vending machines, change machines, mail boxes, and fuel dispensers in section 228 (229 in the proposed rule). Few comments addressed this section. In the final rule, the Board has added a reference to fuel dispensers to clarify their coverage by the guidelines. The proposed rule included requirements intended to apply to fuel dispensers such as gas pumps. Gas pump manufacturers expressed concerns about reach range requirements and operating force specifications which have been addressed in the final rule, as discussed in sections 308 and 309 below.

229 Windows

Scoping provisions for windows require that at least one glazed opening, where provided for operation by occupants, meet technical criteria for operable parts. Access is also required to each glazed opening required by the administrative authority to be operable. In the final rule, the Board has included an exception from this requirement for windows in residential dwelling units. Devices that make window controls and latches accessible can be provided as a supplementary add-on feature instead of installed as a permanent fixture. For this reason, the Board believes that such access can be effectively provided as a reasonable accommodation under Federal regulations for program access. These regulations govern the types of residential facilities covered by these guidelines.

Comment. Concern was expressed that reference to glazed openings provided for "operation by occupants" would be interpreted to apply to those operated by employees.

Response. Scoping provisions in 203.9 exempt employee work areas from the guidelines except for requirements concerning accessible routes, circulation paths, and wiring for visual alarms. Other elements of employee work areas are not required to comply.

Comment. The referenced technical criteria address the operable parts of windows, including that such parts be within accessible reach ranges, but they do not address the height of glazed openings. The Board sought comment on whether a maximum sill height should be specified so that people who use wheelchairs can look through the window to view ground level activities (Question 16). The Board also requested information on any design requirements, practices, or considerations that would specify installation above an accessible height in certain occupancies for security or safety reasons, such as to guard against break-ins or to prevent improper use by building occupants, including children. Information was sought on any other design impacts, such as the use of the space or cavity below windows for mechanical or other building systems. Comments from people with disabilities supported the idea of a specified sill height, though few recommended a particular height. Comment from industry opposed such a requirement. Some pointed to concerns about child safety and the impact on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and other mechanical systems that use the cavity for duct work.

Response. No additional criteria for windows, including the sill height, have been included in the final rule.

230 Two-Way Communication Systems

Scoping for two-way communication systems remain unchanged in the final rule. Few comments addressed this section.

231 Judicial Facilities

This section covers courthouses and other judicial facilities and provides requirements for courtrooms (231.2), holding cells (231.3), and visiting areas (231.4). This section has not been changed except for a few editorial revisions:

provisions specific to courtrooms have been relocated without substantive change to a new technical section on courtrooms (808) in Chapter 8, which covers special rooms, spaces, and elements
a scoping provision for partitions in visiting areas (231.4.2) has been revised for consistency with the technical criteria it references
Comment. Commenters indicated that provisions specific to courtrooms in section 232.2 of the proposed rule functioned more as technical requirements and should be relocated to the appropriate technical chapter.

Response. The Board agrees and has relocated these provisions to a new technical section in Chapter 8 (Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements) at section 808 that is specific to courtrooms.

Comment. A commenter pointed out that the provision for solid partitions or security glazing in visiting areas should be revised to be more consistent with the technical provision it references, which requires some method to facilitate voice communication.

Response. The Board has revised this provision to clarify that "at least one of each type" is required to comply, consistent with the referenced technical requirement in section 904.6.

232 Detention and Correctional Facilities

This section provides scoping criteria specific to prisons, jails, and other types of detention and correctional facilities.

Several provisions in this section have been revised:

  • this section has been revised to refer to "cells" as opposed to "cells or rooms" for purposes of simplicity
  • scoping for beds in cells (232.2.1.1) references a provision for beds in transient lodging guest rooms which has been revised, as discussed above in section 224
  • a provision for partitions in visiting areas (232.5.2) has been revised for consistency with the technical criteria it references, consistent with a similar provision for judicial facilities (231.4.2) discussed above in section 231
  • a dispersion requirement for wheelchair and communication accessible cells has been removed, as discussed below (232.2.4 in the proposed rule)
  • an exception from the requirement for grab bars in cells specially designed without protrusions for purposes of suicide prevention (233.3, Exception 1 in the proposed rule) has been moved to the technical requirement for grab bars, which is a more appropriate location (604.5)

Scoping provisions for detention and correctional facilities require access to at least 2% of the general housing and holding cells provided (232.2.1). In addition, where emergency alarm systems and telephones are provided in general housing or holding cells, at least 2% of the cells must be equipped with accessible communication features, such as visual alarms and telephones equipped with volume controls, to accommodate persons with hearing impairments (232.2.2). The proposed rule contained a requirement that half of the accessible communication features be provided in accessible cells, consistent with a dispersion requirement provided for transient lodging guest rooms. This provision was changed, as indicated in the draft of the final guidelines, to prohibit any overlap between accessible cells and those equipped with accessible alarms and telephones. In the final rule, the Board has removed this provision. Scoping for accessible communication features is triggered only where cells are equipped with alarms and telephones. In facilities without such cells, only scoping for accessible cells would apply, making provisions for required overlap irrelevant. Where such cells are provided, the final rule does not prohibit the location of accessible communication features in accessible cells.

233 Residential Facilities

Requirements for residential facilities address access for persons with disabilities, including persons with mobility impairments and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. This section specifies the minimum number of residential dwelling units required to be accessible. The term "residential dwelling units" pertains to facilities used as a residence. A revised definition for the term used in the final rule, "residential dwelling units," is provided in section 106.5. These facilities have been redefined to further distinguish them from other types of facilities, such as transient lodging, that provide living accommodations on a short-term basis. This section has been significantly revised in the final rule for consistency with other Federal regulations that address access to residential facilities, particularly those issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The ADA’s coverage of residential facilities extends primarily to entities subject to title II such as public housing and other types of housing constructed or altered by, on behalf of, or for the use of State or local governments. Title III of the ADA does not generally apply to private housing, including apartments and condominiums, except for spaces within that serve as places of public accommodations, such as sales and rental offices. HUD administers a variety of programs that fund or subsidize housing. Many of these programs are subject to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 197320 which requires that those receiving Federal financial assistance be accessible to persons with disabilities. HUD’s section 504 regulations21 apply access requirements to residential facilities and include specific provisions for the minimum number of dwelling units required to be accessible. Specifically, they require at least 5% of dwelling units in multi-family projects of 5 or more dwelling units to be accessible and at least 2% to be equipped with communication features accessible to persons with hearing impairments. While these requirements are consistent with those in the proposed guidelines, the HUD regulations further specify how this scoping is to be applied to housing "projects," a term specifically defined in the HUD regulations. To avoid any potential conflicts in this area, the Board has referenced HUD’s section 504 regulations for purposes of scoping (233.2). Thus, entities subject to HUD’s section 504 regulations are required to apply the technical requirements for new construction and alterations of this rule to the number of units required to be accessible under HUD’s regulations.

Scoping provisions for facilities not subject to HUD’s section 504 regulations are addressed in a separate section (233.3). Requirements for these residential facilities address new construction, dwelling units for sale, additions, alterations, and dispersion. Substantive revisions made in the final rule concern:

  • residential facilities with a limited number of dwelling units (233.3.1, Exception)
  • dwelling units for sale (233.3.2)
  • alterations (233.3.4)

In addition, references to technical requirements have been editorially revised consistent with the integration of a separate chapter on residential facilities (11) into other chapters of the guidelines.

New construction scoping for facilities not subject to HUD’s section 504 regulations is substantively consistent with the level specified in the proposed rule (233.3.1). At least 5% of the total number of residential dwelling units must be accessible to persons with mobility impairments and at least 2% must be equipped with communication features accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For newly constructed residential facilities with less than 5 units, the proposed rule provided an exception that allowed the minimum number to be applied to the total number of dwelling units constructed under a single contract, or developed as whole, whether or not located on a common site. In the final rule, this exception has been revised to apply to facilities with 15 or fewer units, a level which derives from UFAS, which the Board considered more appropriate (233.3.1, Exception).

The Board had considered adding a provision stipulating that units providing mobility access and those providing communication access are to be satisfied independently (i.e., both types of access cannot be provided in the same unit to satisfy the minimum number of each type required to be accessible). The Board did not include such a requirement in the final rule for consistency with requirements in the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC specifies that multi-family dwelling units required to have fire alarm systems also have the capability to support visible alarms. This requirement facilitates installation of visual alarms as needed, including in units providing access for persons with mobility impairments. To avoid any conflict with the IBC requirement, the Board has removed its provision prohibiting the location of required accessible communication features in dwelling units that are accessible to persons with mobility impairments.

The final rule includes a provision that specifically covers residential units that are constructed for purchase (233.3.2). This provision does not apply the scoping percentages otherwise required in new construction, but instead references regulations issued under the ADA or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. DOJ’s title II ADA regulation and section 504 regulations contain provisions that ensure access to programs and activities. These regulations require that each program or activity conducted by a covered entity or a program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities when viewed in its entirety. A public entity that conducts a program to build housing for purchase by individual home buyers must provide access according to the requirements of the ADA regulations and, where Federal financial assistance is provided, the applicable section 504 regulation. The Board determined that access to dwelling units for purchase is better addressed by the program access obligation of these regulations instead of by the across-the-board scoping percentages of this rule.

Scoping for additions applies the minimum number according to the number of units added (233.3.3). No substantive changes have been made to this requirement in the final rule.

Scoping provisions for alterations have been revised in the final rule (233.3.4). The Board determined that applying requirements to dwelling units in alterations should be further tailored to conditions specific to residential facilities. As a result, the final rule focuses on alterations where the planned scope of work is extensive enough to achieve fully accessible units that are on accessible routes. Provisions are included that specifically address residential facilities vacated as part of an alteration and those that are substantially altered. Consistent with these provisions, the Board has included exceptions to the general scoping provisions for alterations, as discussed above (sections 202.3 and 202.4).

Where a building is vacated for purposes of alteration and has more than 15 dwelling units, at least 5 percent of the altered dwelling units are required to be accessible to persons with mobility impairments and to be located on an accessible route (233.3.4.1). In addition, at least 2 percent of the dwelling units are to be equipped with accessible communication features. Facilities vacated for purposes other than alteration, such as asbestos removal or pest control, are not subject to this requirement.

Where individual dwelling units are altered and, as a result, a bathroom or a kitchen is substantially altered and at least one other room is also altered, the dwelling unit is required to comply with the scoping requirements for new construction until the total number of accessible units is met (233.3.4.2). A substantial alteration to a kitchen or bathroom includes, but is not limited to, changes to or rearrangements in the plan configuration, or replacement of cabinetry. Substantial alterations do not include normal maintenance or appliance and fixture replacement, unless such maintenance or replacement requires changes to or rearrangements in the plan configuration, or replacement of cabinetry. As with new construction, the final rule permits facilities that contain 15 or fewer dwelling units to apply the scoping requirements to all the dwelling units that are altered under a single contract, or are developed as whole, whether or not located on a common site.

An exception to these alteration scoping requirements is provided in the final rule where full compliance is technically infeasible (233.3.4, Exception). Technical infeasibility, as defined in the rule, pertains to existing structural conditions or site constraints that effectively prohibit compliance in an alteration. Under this exception, where it is technically infeasible to provide a fully accessible unit or an accessible route to such a unit, then a comparable unit at a different location under an entity’s purview can be used as a substitute provided that it fully complies with the access requirements. A substituted dwelling unit must be comparable to the dwelling unit that is not made accessible. Factors to be considered in comparing one dwelling unit to another should include the number of bedrooms; amenities provided within the dwelling unit; types of common spaces provided within the facility; and location with respect to community resources and services, such as public transportation and civic, recreational, and mercantile facilities.

Dispersion of accessible units is required among the various types of units provided so that people with disabilities have choices of dwelling units comparable to and integrated with those available to other residents (233.3.5). Single-story units can substitute for multi-story units provided they have equivalent amenities and spaces. These provisions have not been substantively revised in the final rule.

234 through 243 Recreation Facilities and Play Areas

Section 234 through 243 address various types of recreation facilities, including play areas. These requirements were developed in separate rulemakings that were finalized after the proposal for this rule was published. They have been incorporated into the final rule and have been reformatted and editorially revised for consistency with the document. No substantive changes have been made. Scoping provisions, which reference technical provisions in chapters 6 and 10, address:

  • amusement rides (234)
  • recreational boating facilities (235)
  • exercise machines (236)
  • fishing piers and platforms (237)
  • golf facilities (238)
  • miniature golf facilities (239)
  • play areas (240)
  • saunas and steam rooms (241)
  • swimming pools, wading pools, and spas (242)
  • shooting facilities with firing positions (243)