Part III: Technical Requirements

Chapter 3: Building Blocks

Chapter 3 contains basic technical requirements that form the "building blocks" of accessibility as established by the guidelines. These requirements address floor and ground surfaces (302), changes in level (303), wheelchair turning space (304), clear floor or ground space (305), knee and toe clearance (306), protruding objects (307), reach ranges (308), and operable parts (309). They are referenced by scoping provisions in Chapter 2 and by requirements in subsequent technical chapters (4 through 10).

Most comments addressed requirements for reach ranges and operable parts. Substantive revisions made in the final rule include:

  • lowering the maximum height for side reaches from 54 to 48 inches (308.3.1)
  • providing a limited exception from this requirement for gas pumps (308.3.1 and 308.3.2, Exception 2) and an exception for the operable parts of gas pumps (309.4)
  • adding an exception from requirements for obstructed side reaches to accommodate the standard height of laundry equipment (308.3.2, Exception 1)

302 Floor or Ground Surfaces

Section 302 requires floor or ground surfaces to be stable, firm, and slip resistant and provides specifications for carpets and surface openings.

Comment. Slip-resistance is based on the frictional force necessary to keep a shoe heel or crutch tip from slipping on a walking surface under conditions likely to be found on the surface. The Board was urged to reference specifications and testing protocols for slip resistance, in particular those developed by Voices of Safety International.

Response. Historically, the Board has not specified a particular level of slip resistance since it can be measured in different ways. The assessed level (or static coefficient of friction) varies according to the measuring method used. It is the Board’s understanding that various industries each employ different testing methods and that there is no universally adopted or specified test protocol. The final rule does not include any technical specifications or testing methods for slip resistance as recommended by comments. The Board has chosen not to reference specifications that have not been vetted by the model codes community or developed through established industry procedures governing the adoption of consensus standards and specified test methods.

The final rule includes exceptions developed in a separate rulemaking on recreation facilities that exempts animal containment areas and areas of sports activity from the requirements for floor or ground surfaces.

303 Changes in Level

Section 303 addresses vertical changes in level in floor or ground surfaces. No changes have been made to this section. Exceptions for animal containment areas and areas of sports activity established in rulemaking on recreation facilities are included in the final rule.

304 Turning Space

Minimum spatial requirements are specified for wheelchair turning space. This section permits either a 60 inch diameter circle or a T-shaped design. Objects that provide sufficient knee and toe clearance can overlap a limited portion of the turning space.

Comment. Comments urged that the minimum dimensions for turning space be increased to better accommodate scooters and motorized wheelchairs. Recommendations ranged from 64 to 68 inches for the diameter of circular space and the overall dimensions of the T-shaped space. The overlap of this space by other elements should be prohibited or further restricted according to some of these comments because knee and toe clearances do not accommodate the front tiller of scooters.

Response. The lack of consensus on the dimensions for larger turning space and the absence of supporting data points to the need for research on the spatial turning requirements for scooters and other powered mobility aids. The Board believes that such research is needed before any changes to the long-standing criteria for turning space are made. The Board is sponsoring a long-term research project on scooters and other powered mobility aids through the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design.

305 Clear Floor or Ground Space

Section 305 provides requirements for the basic space allocation for an occupied wheelchair. Few comments addressed this section, and no substantive changes have been made.

306 Knee and Toe Clearance

Section 306 defines the minimum clearances for knees and toes beneath fixed objects. Few comments addressing this section were received. The only changes made to this section are editorial in nature for purposes of clarity.

307 Protruding Objects

Objects mounted on walls and posts can be hazardous to persons with vision impairments unless treated according to the specifications in section 307 for protruding objects. Objects mounted on walls above the standard sweep of canes (i.e., higher than 27 inches from the floor) and below the standard head room clearance (80 inches), are limited to a 4 inch depth. Objects mounted on posts within this range are limited to a 12 inch overhang.

Comment. Several commenters called for the 27 inch triggering height to be reduced. Recommendations ranged from 15 to 6 inches. Comments also recommended that post-mounted objects be held to the requirements for wall-mounted objects.

Response. Post-mounted objects are common along sidewalks, street crossings, and other public rights-of-way. The Board intends to develop guidelines specific to public rights-of-way in a separate rulemaking. This other rulemaking will address and invite comment on protruding objects in public rights-of-way. With respect to the mounting height above which requirements for protruding objects apply (27 inches), the Board believes research is needed to further assess this specification. No substantive changes have been made to the provisions for protruding objects in the final rule.

308 Reach Ranges

Accessible reach ranges are specified according to the approach (forward or side) and the depth of reach over any obstruction. The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, specified maximum heights of 48 inches for a forward reach and 54 inches for a side reach. In the final rule, the maximum side reach has been lowered to the height specified for forward reaches. Exceptions to this requirement and a related provision for reaches over obstructions have been added for gas pumps, laundry equipment, and elevators.

The ADAAG Review Advisory Committee’s report, upon which the proposed rule was largely based, recommended that the side reach range, including obstructed reaches, be changed to those required for forward reaches. This recommendation was based on a report from the Little People of America which considered the 54 inch height beyond the reach for many people of short stature. The advisory committee also considered the 48 inch maximum for side reaches as preferable for people who use wheelchairs. The Board proposed retaining the 54 inch side reach maximum pending further information on the need for, and impact of, such a change in view of its application to a wide and varied range of controls and elements. However, the Board acknowledged that the ANSI A117.1-1998 standard included such a change, which would mitigate the impact of similar action by the Board in view of new codes based on the ANSI A117.1 standard.

Comment. Several hundred comments, almost a fifth of the total received in this rulemaking, addressed the merits of lowering the side reach maximum. The vast majority urged lowering the side reach, consistent with the advisory committee’s recommendation. Most of these comments were submitted by persons of short stature and disability groups. These commenters, as well as the ANSI A117 Committee and the Little People of America, stated that the unobstructed high reach range requirement should be lowered to 48 inches to help meet the needs of people of short stature, people with little upper arm strength and movement, and people with other disabilities. This change would enhance consistency between the guidelines and other codes and standards. Comments called attention to difficulties people encounter accessing ATMs, vending machines, and gas pumps. Various trade and industry groups opposed lowering the side reach range due to concerns about the impact and cost on various types of equipment, including those highlighted by other comments as difficult to reach. In particular, gas pump manufacturers outlined the difficulties in designing a fuel dispenser that would meet the 48 inch requirement. Gas pumps are often located on curbs at least 6 inches high for safety reasons. In addition, safety and health regulations require distance between the electronics of the pump and the dispenser. Comments from the elevator industry noted that a 48 inch maximum height would adversely impact the design of elevator controls.

The Board held a public meeting in October, 2000 to collect further information on this issue. Persons of short stature and disability groups reiterated the need for lowering the side reach to 48 inches. ATM manufacturers noted that they could meet the 48 inch maximum height for most new models of ATMs. Gas pump manufacturers demonstrated the difficulties in meeting the 48 inch height requirement in view of their current designs and safety and health design requirements. The gas pump manufacturers impressed upon the Board the great difficulty of installing a redesigned gas pump on an existing curb. They contended that although it would be possible to redesign gas pumps to be 48 inches to the highest operable part, even when installed on a curb, such gas pumps would have non-uniform fittings. They noted that installing them would be costly and could necessitate removing the entire curb.

Response. The maximum side reach height has been lowered from 54 to 48 inches. An exception is provided for the operable parts of fuel dispensers, which are permitted to be 54 inches high maximum where dispensers are installed on existing curbs. This exception responds to industry’s concern regarding costs associated with alterations and will permit the existing stock of gas pumps that are currently within 54 inches to be used. In addition, certain exceptions are provided for elevators in section 407, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

Comment. Requirements for side reaches over an obstruction in 308.3.2 limit the height of the obstruction to 34 inches maximum. A major manufacturer of laundry equipment indicated that this specification would significantly impact the standard design of clothes washers and dryers, which have a standard work surface height of 36 inches. Complying with a 34 inch maximum height would decrease machine capacity and involve substantial redesign and retooling to develop compliant top-loading and front-loading machines.

Response. An exception has been added that permits the top of washing machines and clothes dryers to be 36 inches maximum above the floor.

309 Operable Parts

Specifications for operable parts address clear floor space, height, and operating characteristics. Operable parts are required to be located with the reach ranges specified in 308. In addition, they must be operable with one hand and not require tight grasping, pinching, twisting of the wrist, or more than 5 pounds of force to operate.

Comment. The proposed rule included an exception from the height requirements in 309.3 for special equipment and electrical and communications systems receptacles. This exception’s coverage of various operable parts was considered to be too broad.

Response. This exception has been revised to specifically cover operable parts that are "intended for use only by service or maintenance personnel," "electrical or communication receptacles serving a dedicated use," and "floor electrical receptacles." However, since such equipment may merit exception from other criteria for operable parts besides the height specifications, this exception has been recast as a general exception from section 309 and has been relocated to the scoping requirement for operable parts in Chapter 2 (see section 205.1, exceptions 1, 2, and 4).

Comment. Gas pump manufacturers indicated that the safety requirements for the operation of gas pump nozzles effectively preclude a maximum operating force of 5 pounds.

Response. An exception has been added to 309.4 that permits gas pump nozzles to have an activating force greater than 5 pounds.

Comment. The Board sought comment on whether the maximum 5 pounds of force was appropriate for operating controls activated by a single finger, such as elevator call and control panel buttons, platform lift controls, telephone key pads, function keys for ATMs and fare machines, and controls for emergency communication equipment in areas of refuge, among others. Usability of such controls also may be affected by how far the button or key must be depressed for activation. Specifically, the Board asked whether a maximum 3.5 pounds of force and a maximum 1/10 inch stroke depth provide sufficient accessibility for the use of operable parts activated by a single finger (Question 18) and whether there were any types of operable parts that could not meet, or would be adversely affected by such criteria (Question 19). The few comments received on this issue were evenly divided on the merits of adding these specifications. Comments noted that they would pose problems for fare machines and interactive transaction machines designed to withstand vandalism and misuse, various types of plumbing products, dishwashers and laundry machines, and amusement games and attractions. The elevator industry indicated that the noted specifications would not pose a problem in the design of elevators.

Response. Due to the limited support expressed and the potential impacts raised by commenters, a maximum 3.5 pounds of force and a maximum 1/10 inch stroke depth for operable parts activated by a single finger has not been included in the final rule.


Chapter 4: Accessible Routes

Chapter 4 contains technical requirements for accessible routes (402) and the various components of such routes, including walking surfaces (403), doors, doorways and gates (404), ramps (405), curb ramps (406), elevators (407 through 409), and platform lifts (410). In the proposed rule, this chapter included requirements for accessible means of egress and areas of refuge (409 and 410). These sections have been removed, as discussed above at section 207. The scoping provisions for accessible means of egress at section 207 now reference corresponding requirements in the International Building Code (IBC). Information on the IBC is available on the Board’s website at www.access-board.gov and in advisory notes.

402 Accessible Routes

Section 402 lists the various elements that can be part of an accessible route: walking surfaces, doorways, ramps, elevators, and platform lifts. Walking surfaces must have a running slope of 1:20 or less. Those portions of accessible routes that slope more than 1:20 must be treated as ramps or curb ramps.

Comment. Comments noted that curb ramps should be included in the list of accessible route components.

Response. A reference to curb ramps has been added to this list in the final rule (402.2). In addition, the Board has clarified that only the run of curb ramps, not the flared sides, can be considered part of an accessible route.

403 Walking Surfaces

Requirements in 403 for walking surfaces apply to portions of accessible routes existing between doors and doorways, ramps, elevators, or lifts. The requirements for walking surfaces

derive from existing specifications for accessible routes covering floor or ground surfaces, slope, changes in level, and clearances. Revisions made to this section include:

  • adding an exception for circulation paths in employee work areas (403.5, Exception)
  • removing redundant specifications for protruding objects (403.5.3 in the proposed rule)
  • addressing handrails provided along walking surfaces (403.6)

The final rule requires that common use circulation paths within work areas satisfy requirements for accessible routes (203.9). This provision 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. These circulation paths must be accessible according to requirements for accessible routes and walking surfaces. Section 403.5 includes requirements for the clear width of walking surfaces. The Board has included an exception to section 403.5 which recognizes constraints posed by various types of equipment on the width of circulation paths. Under this exception, the specified clearance for common use circulation paths within employee work areas can be reduced by equipment where such a reduction is essential to the function of the work being performed.

The proposed rule included a requirement that protruding objects not reduce the required clear width of walking surfaces (403.5.3). The Board has removed this requirement as redundant. Section 307, which addresses protruding objects, specifies that such objects not reduce the clear width of accessible routes (307.5).

Comment. Requirements for handrails in the proposed rule applied only to those provided along ramps and stairs. The handrail requirements in section 505 address specifications for continuity, height, clearance, gripping surface, cross section, fittings, and extensions. The Board sought comment on whether these requirements should also be applied to handrails that are provided along portions of circulation paths without ramps or stairs (Question 20). The few comments that addressed this question supported the inclusion of such a requirement.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has included a requirement at section 403.6 that handrails, where provided along walking surfaces not treated as a ramp (i.e., those with running slopes no steeper than 1:20), meet the technical criteria in section 505. The Board has included provisions in section 505 that exempt walking surfaces from requirements for handrails on both sides and from requirements for handrail extensions.

Comment. Section 403.5 specifies a continuous clearance of 36 inches minimum for walking surfaces. Wider clearances are specified for wheelchair passing space (60 inches minimum) and certain sharp turns around narrow obstructions. Several comments urged an increase in the specified clearances for walking surfaces, such as a 48 inch minimum for exterior routes, and an increase in wheelchair passing space to 66 inches.

Response. No revisions have been made to the specified clearance of walking surfaces. The minimum width of exterior routes on public streets and sidewalks will likely be revisited in supplementary guidelines specific to public rights-of-ways that the Board intends to develop. These supplementary guidelines will be proposed for public comment.

404 Doors, Doorways, and Gates

This section covers both doors, doorways, and gates that are manually operated (404.2) and those that are automated (404.3). Changes made to the requirements for manually operated doors:

  • clarify coverage of gates and the application of this section to manual doors and doorways intended for user passage (404.2)
  • clarify and modify maneuvering clearance requirements (404.2.4)
  • modify requirements for doors and gates in series (404.2.6)
  • clarify the height of door and gate hardware and add an exception for gates at pools, spas, and hot tubs (404.2.7)
  • revise an exception for door and gate surface requirements (404.2.10, Exception 2) and add a new exception for existing doors and gates (Exception 4)

In the proposed rule, section 404 referenced doors and doorways. The original ADAAG included a provision for gates which were subject to all relevant specifications for doors and doorways. The final rule includes references to gates throughout section 404 so that they are equally covered, consistent with the intent of this section and with scoping provisions for doors, doorways, and gates in section 206.5. In addition, clarification has been added that the requirements for manual doors, doorways, and gates in section 404.2 apply to those "intended for user passage."

Comment. Commenters requested that the Board specifically address doors which do not provide user passage.

Response. Section 404, as all of Chapter 4, addresses accessible routes and components of such routes. Doors which do not provide user passage would not be considered part of an accessible route. However, doors not providing user passage, such as those at many types of closets and wall mounted cabinets, are subject to requirements for storage (811) and for operable parts (309) where they are required to be accessible.

Section 404.2.4 addresses maneuvering clearances at manual doors, doorways, and gates. It includes tables that specify these clearances according to the type of door, doorway, or gate (swinging, sliding, folding, and doorways without doors or gates) and the approach (front, latch side, hinge side). Clearances are specified for the pull side and the push side in the case of swinging doors. The final rule includes clarification, which was partially contained in a previous footnote to Table 404.2.4.1, that maneuvering clearances "shall extend the full width of the doorway and the required latch side or hinge side clearance," consistent with corresponding figures.

Comment. The proposed rule exempted doors to hospital patient rooms that are at least 44 inches wide from the specifications for latch side clearances. This exception derives from the original ADAAG and was intended to apply to those types of patient rooms where patients are typically transported in and out by hospital staff. Commenters pointed out that this exception should be limited to acute care patient bedrooms, as in the original ADAAG. The 44 inch specification pertains to the clear opening width of doors intended to accommodate gurneys.

Response. The exception, located at section 404.2.4 in the final rule, remains generally applicable to entry doors serving hospital patient rooms. The 44 inch width criterion has been removed so that the exception may be applied without regard to the door width. The Board opted not to limit the application of this exception due to concerns about the impact on the standard design and size of patient rooms. Doors to patient rooms are often located close to adjacent interior walls in order to facilitate circulation and to enhance privacy. As a matter of design, practice, or code requirement, such doors are typically wider in order to accommodate beds and gurneys.

Comment. Table 404.2.4.1 specifies maneuvering clearances for manual swinging doors and gates. At doors that provide a latch side approach, the minimum depth of this clearance is increased where a closer is provided because additional space is needed to counteract the force of closers while maneuvering through the door from either the push or the pull side. In the proposed rule, this additional depth (6 inches) was specified when both a closer and a latch are provided. Comments indicated that this requirement should apply based on the provision of a closer since the addition of a latch does not impact the need for additional maneuvering clearance.

Response. The specification in Table 404.2.4.1, footnote 4, has been revised to apply where a closer is provided at doors with latch side approaches. The reference to latches has been removed.

Comment. Section 404.2.5 addresses the height of thresholds. A maximum height of ½ inch is generally specified, although an exception permits a maximum height of ¾ inch at existing or altered thresholds that have a beveled edge on each side. Many comments opposed any threshold height above ½ inch. Conversely, a few comments urged that this exception be broadened to restore a similar allowance for exterior sliding doors.

Response. The Board has retained the ¾ inch height allowed for thresholds with a beveled edge on each side that are existing or altered because compliance with the ½ inch requirement can, in some cases, significantly increase alteration costs and necessitate replacement of door assemblies. An exception in original ADAAG that allowed a ¾ inch threshold at exterior sliding doors was removed in the proposed rule because products are available, including swinging doors, that meet the ½ inch maximum specified for all other doors. No changes to the criteria for thresholds have been made in the final rule.

Section 404.2.6 specifies the minimum separation between doors and gates in series (48 inches plus the width of doors or gates swinging into the space). The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, included a requirement that doors and gates in series swing either in the same direction or away from the space in between. The Board has removed this requirement for consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard. The required separation between doors and gates in series and specifications for maneuvering clearances at doors will ensure sufficient space regardless of the door swing.

The height of door and gate hardware (34 to 48 inches) is specified in section 404.2.7. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that this height pertains to the operable parts of hardware, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

In finalizing this rule and incorporating its guidelines for recreation facilities, the Board determined that the specified height for door and gate hardware conflicts with industry practice or safety standards for swimming pools which specify a higher range for the location of latches beyond the reach of young children. The Model Barrier Code for Residential Swimming Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs (ANSI/NSPI-8 1996) permits latch releases for chain link or picket fence gates to be above 54 inches. The model safety standard does not apply this requirement to key locks, electronic openers, and integral openers which have a self-latching device that is also self-locking. To reconcile this conflict, the Board has added an exception in the final rule for barrier walls and fences protecting pools, spas, and hot tubs (404.2.7, Exception 2). Under this exception, a 54 inch maximum height is permitted for the operable parts of the latch release on self-latching devices. Although the final guidelines specify 48 inches as the maximum forward or side reach, the original ADAAG recognized a maximum of 54 inches for side reach. Consistent with the model safety standard, this exception is not permitted for self-locking devices operated by keys, electronic openers, or integral combination locks.

Comment. Section 404.2.7 also covers the operating characteristics and height of door and gate hardware. An exception is provided for "existing locks at existing glazed doors without stiles, existing overhead rolling doors or grilles, and similar existing doors or grilles that are designed with locks that are activated only at the top or bottom rail." The advisory committee had recommended a broader exception that would have permitted any location for locks used only for security purposes and not for normal operation. Several comments preferred the exception put forth by the advisory committee over the one proposed by the Board.

Response. The Board sought to limit the exception to existing doors or grilles because design solutions for accessible doors and gates are available in new construction. In addition, the Board felt that the advisory committee’s language concerning "locks used only for security purposes" could be construed as applying to any lock. No changes have been made to the exception.

Comment. Section 404.2.9 addresses the opening force of doors and gates. The provisions are consistent with existing ADAAG specifications by requiring a maximum 5 pounds of force for sliding, folding, and interior hinged doors. Fire doors are required to have the minimum opening force permitted by the appropriate administrative authority. No maximum opening force was proposed for exterior hinged doors. Many comments urged the Board to address exterior hinged doors, with a majority proposing a maximum of 8.5 pounds of force. Where this maximum cannot be met, the door should be required to be automatic or power-assisted, according to these comments. Some commenters felt that automatic doors should be made mandatory regardless of the opening force of manual hinged doors.

Response. Historically, the Board has not specified a maximum opening force for exterior hinged doors to avoid conflicts with model building codes. The closing force required by building codes usually exceeds 5 pounds, the maximum considered to be accessible. Factors that affect closing force include the weight of the door, wind and other exterior conditions, gasketing, air pressure, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and energy conservation, among others. Research previously sponsored by the Board indicates that a force of 15 pounds is probably the most practicable as a specified maximum. Considering that closing force is 60% efficient, a 15 pound maximum for opening force may be sufficient for closure and positive latching of most doors, but is triple the recognized maximum for accessibility. A maximum opening force for exterior hinged doors has not been included in the final rule.

Section 404.2.10 requires that swinging doors and gates have a smooth surface on the push side that extends their full width. This provision derives from the ANSI A117.1-1992 standard and is intended to permit wheelchair footrests to be used in pushing open doors without risking entrapment on the stile. This provision requires that parts creating joints in the smooth surface are to be within 1/16 inch of the same plane as the other. Also, cavities created by added kick plates must be capped. Exceptions from this requirement are recognized for sliding doors (Exception 1), certain tempered glass doors without stiles (Exception 2), doors and gates that do not extend to within 10 inches of the floor or ground (Exception 3), and existing doors and gates (Exception 4).

Comment. Exception 2 exempts tempered glass doors without stiles that have a bottom rail or shoe with the top leading edge tapered at 60 degrees minimum from the horizontal. Comments indicated that these types of doors should be exempt from the requirement for the smooth surface area on the push side, but should be subject to other portions of the provision covering surface joints and added kick plates.

Response. In the final rule, section 404.2.10, Exception 2 has been revised to exempt the type of tempered glass doors described only from the requirement for a smooth surface on the push side that extends the full width of the door. Such doors remain subject to specifications for parts creating joints in the surface and for provided kick plates.

In finalizing the rule, the Board determined that the cost of making existing doors or gates comply with the smooth surface requirement in alterations can be significant. An exception from this requirement for existing doors and gates is provided in the final rule (404.2.9, Exception 4). Under this exception, such doors or gates do not have to comply with the surface requirements, provided that cavities created by added kick plates are capped.

Section 404.3 addresses automatic doors and gates, including those that are full-powered, low-energy, and power-assisted. In addition to the provisions of section 404.3, such doors are subject to industry standards (ANSI/BHMA 156.10 and 156.19). The reference to these standards in section 105.2 has been updated in the final rule to refer to the most recent editions: ANSI/BHMA A156.10-1999 Power-Operated Pedestrian Doors and the 1997 or 2002 editions of ANSI/BHMA A156.19 Power-Assist and Low-Energy Power-Operated Doors. The Board’s website at www.access-board.gov provides further information on these referenced standards. Provisions in section 404.3 address clear width; maneuvering clearance; thresholds; doors and gates in series; operable parts; break out opening; and revolving doors, gates, and turnstiles.

Changes made to this section include:

  • removal of unnecessary language from the charging statement (404.3)
  • modification of maneuvering clearance specifications (404.3.2)
  • removal of requirements for door labels and warnings (404.3.6 in the proposed rule)
  • revision of specifications for break out opening (404.3.6)
  • addition of a provision for revolving doors, gates, and turnstiles (404.3.7)

Comment. In the proposed rule, section 404.3 noted that "[a]utomatic doors shall be permitted on an accessible route." Commenters indicated that this language was unnecessary since any type of door complying with section 404 may be on an accessible route (404.1).

Response. The statement permitting automatic doors on accessible routes in section 404.3 has been removed.

In the proposed rule, section 404.3.2 required that maneuvering clearances specified for swinging doors be provided at power-assisted doors and gates since their activation, unlike those that are fully automated, involves manual operation. In the final rule, this provision has been revised to also apply to automatic doors and gates not equipped with standby power that are part of an accessible means of egress. In cases of building power failure, this will help provide access where manual operation of the door or gate is required, unless the opening device has its own back-up power supply. A new exception exempts those automatic doors or gates that remain open in the power-off condition since manual operation is not necessary during power outages.

The proposed rule included a requirement that labels and warning signs for automatic doors meet requirements in section 703.4 for non-tactile signage (404.3.6). The Board has removed this requirement in the final rule since the referenced industry standards address the characteristics of these signs and labels.

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board included a requirement that the clear break out opening for swinging or sliding automatic doors be at least 32 inches in emergency mode so that an accessible route through them is maintained in emergencies (404.3.7). Several comments opposed this requirement because of a common accessibility retrofit in which 60 inch wide double doors are automated so that both 30 inch leaves open simultaneously to meet the minimum 32 inch clear opening requirement. However, neither leaf would provide the minimum 32 inch clearance in emergency mode required by this provision.

Response. The Board has revised the requirement so that it applies only to those automatic doors and gates without standby power that are part of a means of egress (404.3.6). Automatic doors equipped with backup power would meet this requirement, including those with double leaves less than 32 inches wide. In addition, the Board has added an exception under which compliance with this provision is not required where accessible manual swinging doors or gates serve the same means of egress.

Comment. A commenter advised that no revolving doors or turnstiles should be permitted on an accessible route.

Response. As indicated in the proposed rule, manual revolving doors, gates, and turnstiles cannot be part of an accessible route (404.2.1). The Board has included a provision clarifying that automatic types of revolving doors, gates, and turnstiles cannot be the only means of passage at an accessible entrance (404.3.7). While automated revolving doors, if large enough, may be usable by people with disabilities, certain questions remain about the appropriate maximum speed, minimum diameter, compartment size, width and configuration of openings, break out openings, and safety systems such as motion detectors that stop door movement without contact. An alternate door in full compliance with 404 is considered necessary since some people with disabilities may be uncertain of their usability or may not move quickly enough to use them.

405 Ramps

Section 405 provides technical criteria for ramps. Revisions made to this section include:

  • a new exception for ramps in assembly areas (405.1)
  • removal of an exception for ramp slopes in historic facilities (405.2)
  • addition of exceptions for ramps in employee work areas (405.5 and 405.8)
  • clarification of specifications for ramp landings (405.7)

Comment. Requirements for ramps apply to portions of accessible routes that slope more than 1:20. Technical provisions address running slope, cross slope, handrails, landings, edge protection, and other elements. Comments from designers of assembly areas requested that the guidelines make clear that ramps adjacent to seating in assembly areas that are not part of a required accessible route do not have to comply with the guidelines. Often, it is not practicable that such ramps meet requirements for handrails, edge protection, running slope, and other specifications.

Response. An exception has been added in the final rule (405.1) for ramps adjacent to seating in assembly areas, which are not required to comply with the guidelines provided that they do not serve elements required to be on an accessible route.

Section 405.2 specifies a maximum running slope of 1:12 for ramps. Alternate slope requirements are permitted for short ramps in existing facilities where space constraints effectively prohibit a 1:12 running slope. A 1:10 maximum slope is permitted for ramps with a rise of up to 6 inches, and a maximum 1:8 slope is allowed for ramps with a rise of up to 3 inches.

Comment. Commenters recommended that language in the original ADAAG be restored calling for the "least possible slope" to be used, with 1:12 being the maximum allowed.

Response. While the least possible slope is generally desired for easier access, this language had been removed because it is considered too vague from a compliance standpoint and thus difficult to enforce. The final rule, consistent with the proposed rule, specifies only that the maximum slope shall be 1:12.

Comment. The proposed rule included an exception for qualified historic structures (405.2, Exception 2) that would have permitted a running slope of 1:6 maximum for ramps no longer than 24 inches. Commenters urged that this exception be removed for consistency with the ANSI A117.1-1998 standard and the International Building Code (IBC).

Response. This exception for qualified historic facilities has been removed in the final rule. Such facilities, however, may qualify for the exceptions generally permitted for existing facilities that have been retained in the final rule.

The final rule includes exceptions for ramps located in employee work areas. Common use circulation paths within such areas are subject to requirements for accessible routes (203.9). These circulation paths must be accessible according to requirements for accessible routes, including ramps. Exceptions included in the final rule for the clear width (405.5) and handrails (405.8) of ramps located in employee work areas recognize constraints posed by various types of equipment. Employee work area ramps do not have to meet the specified 36 inch minimum clear width where a decrease is necessary due to equipment within the work area so long as the decrease is essential to the work being performed. Ramps within employee work areas are not required to have handrails if they are designed to permit the later installation of complying handrails. A clearance of 36 inches between handrails is required, except at those ramps that qualify for the clear width exception in 405.5.

Comment. Section 405.7 addresses ramp landings, including the minimum width and length (405.7.2 through 405.7.4). A commenter suggested that these provisions be revised to the "clear" dimension for clarity and consistency.

Response. Specifications for ramp landings have been revised in the final rule, as suggested, to refer to the "clear" dimension.

406 Curb Ramps

Section 406 provides requirements specific to curb ramps and also applies requirements for other types of ramps covered by section 405. These include specifications for running slope, surface, clear width, and wet conditions. Consistent with the scope of the guidelines, these requirements apply to facilities on sites. The Board will address and invite comment on requirements for curb ramps located in public streets and sidewalks in upcoming rulemaking to develop supplementary guidelines specific to public rights-of-way. This supplement will be proposed for public comment based on recommendations from the Board’s Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee, which was comprised of representatives from the transportation industry, Federal, State and local government agencies, the disability community, and design and engineering professionals. This committee’s recommendations are contained in a report, "Building a True Community," which was submitted to the Board in January 2001.

Provisions for curb ramps in section 406 have been revised to:

  • clarify requirements for cross slope (406.1)
  • modify specifications for side flares (406.3) and landings (406.4)
  • delete unnecessary language concerning handrails (406.4 in the proposed rule)
  • clarify the specified location of curb ramps (406.5)
  • change specifications for diagonal curb ramps (406.6)

Comment. Comments indicated that specifications for cross slope (1:48 maximum) are not referenced in the curb ramp section.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that curb ramps, like other elements of accessible routes, cannot have a cross slope steeper than 1:48, by adding a reference to the cross slope specification for ramps in section 405.3.

Section 406.3 addresses the sides of curb ramps and specifies that side flares, where provided, have a slope of 1:10 maximum. In the proposed rule, this provision required flared sides where pedestrians must walk across the curb ramp. Returned sides were permitted where pedestrians would not normally walk across the ramp. In the final rule, this distinction has been removed. However, curbs with returned sides remain an alternative to flared sides. In addition, the specification for shallower (1:12) side flares for curb ramps with limited space at the top has been removed in conjunction with revisions to the criteria for landings (406.4).

Comment. Commenters advised that landings should be specified at the top of curb ramps.

Response. Section 406.4 is new to the final rule in clarifying requirements for landings at the top of curb ramps. Curb ramps must be connected by an accessible route which, in effect, requires space at least 36 inches in length at the top of curb ramps. Otherwise, maneuvering at the top of ramps would require turning on the flared sides. Landings must also be as wide as the curb ramp they serve. The proposed rule specified that side flares of 1:12 maximum must be provided when space at the top of curb ramps is less than 48 inches long. This specification has been removed. However, a similar exception has been added for alterations. Under this exception, 1:12 maximum side flares are required where there is no landing at the top of curb ramps. This exception was provided to address situations where existing space constraints or obstructions may prohibit a landing at the top of curb ramps.

The proposed rule noted that handrails are not required on curb ramps (406.4 in the proposed rule). This language, though accurate, has been removed as unnecessary since the technical provisions for curb ramps in section 406 do not include or reference requirements for handrails.

Section 406.5 specifies the location of curb ramps at marked crossings. In the final rule, requirements for the general location of curb ramps that were provided at section 406.8 in the proposed rule have been integrated into this provision for simplicity. As reformatted, section 406.5 covers the location of curb ramps, including at marked crossings.

Comment. Curb ramps must be located so that they do not project into vehicular traffic lanes or parking spaces and access aisles. Commenters noted that this requirement should be clarified to apply not only to the run of the curb ramp, but also to flared sides, where provided.

Response. Consistent with the intent of the requirement in section 406.5, the Board has clarified that the specified location applies to curb ramps "and the flared sides of curb ramps."

Comment. Section 406.6 provides specifications for diagonal (or corner type) curb ramps. These curb ramps must have a 48 inch minimum clear space at the bottom. Comments advised that this space should be provided outside active traffic lanes of the roadway so that persons traversing the ramp are not in the way of oncoming traffic from either direction at an intersection.

Response. Clarification has been added in the final rule that the clear space at the bottom of diagonal curb ramps must be located "outside active traffic lanes of the roadway."

Comment. Requirements for diagonal curb ramps in section 406.6 also specify that a segment of straight curb at least 2 feet long must be provided on each side of the curb ramp and within the marked crossing. This portion of curb face provides a detectable cue to people with vision impairments traveling within the crosswalk. Comments noted that this segment of curb does not have to be horizontally straight to provide such a cue and that achieving straight segments two feet long within marked crossings is very difficult under standard intersection design conventions.

Response. The requirement in section 406.6 that the 2 foot curb segment aside diagonal curb ramps be "straight" has been removed. The segment can be provided at arced portions of the curb, but must still be located within marked crossings.

Comment. Comments, most from groups representing persons with vision impairments, called attention to the need for detectable warnings at curb ramps, blended curbs, and cut-through islands. They requested that such a requirement be reinstated in the final rule. A few comments opposed such a change.

Response. The original ADAAG contained a requirement that curb ramp surfaces have a raised distinctive pattern of truncated domes to serve as a warning detectable by cane or underfoot to alert people with vision impairments of the transition to vehicular ways (ADAAG 4.7.7). This warning was required since the sloped surfaces of curb ramps remove a tactile cue provided by curb faces. In response to concerns about the specifications, the availability of complying products, proper maintenance such as snow and ice removal, usefulness, and safety concerns, the Board, along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), suspended the requirement for detectable warnings at curb ramps and other locations pending the results of a research project sponsored by the Board on the need for such warnings at these locations.22 The research project showed that intersections are very complex environments and that pedestrians with vision impairments use a combination of cues to detect intersections. The research project suggested that detectable warnings had a modest impact on detecting intersections since, in their absence, pedestrians with vision impairments used other available cues. The results of this research indicated that there may be a need for additional cues at some types of intersections, but did not identify the specific conditions where such cues should be provided.   

Suspension of this requirement continued until July 26, 2001, to accommodate the advisory committee’s review of ADAAG and resulting rulemaking by the Board.23 The advisory committee recommended that the requirement for detectable warnings at platform edges in transportation facilities be retained, but it did not make any recommendations regarding the provision of detectable warnings at other locations within a site. The advisory committee suggested that the appropriateness of providing detectable warnings at vehicular-pedestrian intersections in the public right-of-way should be established first, and that the application to locations within a site should be considered afterward. Consequently, the Board did not include requirements for detectable warnings in the proposed rule, except at boarding platforms in transit facilities. Nor did the Board further extend the suspension, which expired on July 26, 2001. Since the enforcing agencies did not extend the suspension either, the detectable warning requirements are technically part of the existing standards again. DOJ and DOT can provide additional guidance on their enforcement of these requirements pending the update of their standards according to these revised guidelines.

The Board will address and invite comment on detectable warnings on curb ramps in its development of guidelines covering public rights-of-way. Those guidelines will be proposed for public comment based on recommendations from the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee. This committee’s report to the Board makes recommendations for detectable warnings at curb ramps. Consistent with the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee’s recommendation, the Board intends to address detectable warnings in public rights-of-way before including any specification generally applicable to sites. Thus, this final rule does not reinstate requirements for detectable warnings at curb ramps or hazardous vehicular areas.

407 Elevators

Section 407 covers passenger elevators, including destination-oriented elevators and existing elevators. This section also requires compliance with the industry safety code, ASME/ANSI A17.1- 2000 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. The Board has revised the rule to reference the most recent edition of this code (105.2.2).

The requirements for elevators have been extensively revised and reformatted. In the proposed rule, different types of elevators were covered by separate subsections: standard elevators (407.2), destination-oriented elevators (407.3), limited-use/limited-application elevators (407.4), and existing elevators (407.5). In addition, residential elevators were addressed in a separate chapter covering residential facilities (11). Since there was considerable redundancy in the specifications between some types of these elevators, the Board has integrated into one section (407) the requirements for standard, destination-oriented, and existing elevators. Basically, this revised section tracks the requirements for standard elevators in 407.2 of the proposed rule, but the provisions have been renumbered and formatted. Various exceptions specific to destination-oriented and existing elevators have been incorporated into this section to preserve the substance of differing specifications. Requirements for limited-use/limited-application (LULA) elevators and residential elevators are provided in sections 408 and 409, respectively.

Comment. The proposed rule applied requirements specifically to "new" elevators, including destination-oriented and LULA types, and to "existing" elevators. However, substantive differences between requirements for "new" and "existing" elevators applied only to standard elevators. Comments recommended that references to "new" be removed for consistency with the rest of the document.

Response. The Board has removed references to "new" in the requirements for elevators in sections 407 and 408 for consistency with the scoping of the guidelines. The requirements of these sections apply to existing elevators that are altered, consistent with the basic application of the guidelines. Provisions specific to "existing" elevators in section 407 address certain allowances permitted in the alteration of standard elevators.

Substantive changes made to requirements for elevators in section 407 include:

  • revision of the height of call controls (407.2.1.1)
  • removal of a specification concerning objects located below hall call buttons (407.2.2 in the proposed rule)
  • modification of specifications for audible hall signals (407.2.2.3) and audible car position indicators (407.4.8.2)
  • revision of the height of tactile floor designations at hoistways (407.2.3.1)
  • addition of an exemption for destination-oriented elevators from the requirements for door and signal timing (407.3.4)
  • addition of a new exception for the height of car controls (407.4.6.1, Exception 1)
  • modification of requirements for keypads (407.4.7.2)
  • clarification that requirements for operable parts in 309 apply to call controls (407.2.1) and car controls (407.4.6)
  • removal of redundant specifications for emergency communication systems (407.4.9)
  • relocation of requirements for existing elevator cars to be labeled by the International Symbol of Accessibility, unless all cars are accessible, to the signage scoping section (216.7)

Section 407.2 provides specifications for elevator halls and lobbies. In the final rule, this provision has been editorially revised to refer to elevator "landings," consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that call buttons be located 35 to 48 inches above the floor (407.2.2). These controls should be held to the basic reach range specifications in section 308 like any other operable part, according to commenters.

Response. In the final rule, call controls are required to be located within one of the reach ranges specified in section 308 (407.2.1.1). In addition, the Board has removed a requirement that objects mounted beneath hall call buttons protrude no more than 4 inches into the clear floor space. Such protrusions are adequately addressed by requirements for clear floor space in 305 and for protruding objects in section 307.

Comment. Audible hall signals must indicate the direction of a responding car by the number of sounds (once for up and twice for down) or by verbal announcements (407.2.2.3). The proposed rule included a maximum frequency (1,500 Hz) for audible signals. The Board sought comment on whether a frequency band width should be specified for verbal annunciators (Question 21). Specifically, the Board asked whether a band width of 300 to 3,000 Hz for hall signals would be appropriate. Information on the availability and cost of products meeting this specification was also requested. Comments from the elevator industry indicated that hall signals currently fall within this range.

Response. The Board has added a requirement in the final rule that hall signal verbal annunciators have a frequency of 300 Hz minimum and 3,000 Hz maximum. For consistency, a similar requirement is specified for verbal car position indicators (407.4.8.2.3). In the proposed rule, these verbal annunciators were subject to a maximum frequency of 1,500 Hz. In addition, the Board has modified hall signal verbal annunciators by requiring that they "indicate the direction of elevator car travel," instead of specifying the content ("up," "down") as required in the proposed rule.

Comment. The proposed rule specified a decibel range of 20 to 80 decibels for hall signals and annunciators (407.2.3.1) and car position annunciators (407.3.4.2). Comments recommended that the minimum be changed to 10 decibels above the ambient noise level for consistency with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

Response. The minimum decibel range for hall and car position signals has been changed to 10 decibels above ambient. In addition, the provision for audible indicators (407.4.8.2) has been revised to require floor announcement when the car is about to stop, instead of when it has stopped, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

The proposed rule specified that tactile floor designations at the hoistway be 60 inches above the floor, measured from the baseline of the characters (407.2.4). In the final rule, this specification, now located at section 407.2.3.1, applies the mounting height generally required for other types of tactile signs by 703.2 (48 to 60 inches above the floor). The Board felt that there was little reason to hold hoistway signs to a more restrictive location than that specified for other types of tactile signs.

Comment. Section 407.3.1 recognizes acceptable types of elevator doors. The proposed rule recognized horizontal sliding doors. A comment indicated that other door types recognized by the elevator code should be recognized, such as vertical sliding doors.

Response. In the draft of the final guidelines, the Board had included a reference to vertical sliding doors permitted by the elevator safety code (ASME A17.1) in response to this comment. A similar change was not approved for the ANSI A117.1 standard due to concerns about such doors posing a tripping hazard to persons with vision impairments. For consistency, the Board has removed the reference to vertical sliding doors in the final rule.

Section 407.3.4 specifies door and signal timing. This provision helps ensure that elevator doors remain open long enough for persons with disabilities to travel from call buttons to the responding car and is based on a travel speed of 1 ½ feet per second. Destination-oriented elevators may have call buttons located outside elevator landing areas and have enhanced programming features for the response time of cars. In recognition of this, the Board has included in the final rule an exception from the door and signal timing requirements for destination-oriented elevators (407.3.4, Exception 2).

Comment. Comments recommended that the height of elevator car controls be harmonized with the ANSI A117.1 standard. Specifically, the ANSI standard specifies a maximum reach height of 48 inches for forward or side reaches. It also provides an exception that allows a maximum height of 54 inches for elevators with more than 16 openings where a parallel approach to the car controls is provided. The advisory committee also recommended lowering the maximum height for control buttons from 54 to 48 inches, consistent with its recommendations for reach ranges generally. The advisory committee recognized a potential adverse impact of a lower maximum height on elevators with panels that must have a large number of buttons in a limited amount of space and recommended an exception that would

allow the 54 inch maximum height for elevators with more than 16 stops.

Response. As discussed above in section 308, the Board lowered the maximum side reach height from 54 to 48 inches. This height is the same as that specified for forward reaches. Elevator car controls are required to be within these reach ranges (407.4.6.1). Consequently, the Board has included an exception, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard and the advisory committee’s recommendation, that allows a maximum height of 54 inches where the elevator serves more than 16 openings and a parallel approach is provided (407.4.6.1, Exception 1).

Comment. The proposed rule, in addressing elevator car controls, required that telephone-style keypad buttons, where provided, be identified by raised characters centered on the keypad button (407.2.11.2). Comments indicated that tactile characters for each button are not needed on such keypads. Support was expressed for making this requirement consistent with the ANSI A117.1-1998 standard which requires a standard keypad arrangement with a raised dot on the number 5 key which is held to specifications for braille dots and a base diameter of 0.118 to 0.120 inch. Raised characters are not required.

Response. The Board has revised the requirements for elevator keypads, now located at 407.4.6.3 and 407.4.7.2, that are consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard. The final rule requires a standard telephone keypad arrangement with the number 5 key identified by a raised dot that complies with specifications for the base diameter and specifications for braille dots in section 703.3.1. In addition, the Board has included a requirement that the characters provided on buttons comply with visual characteristics specified in section 703.5, which covers finish and contrast, character proportion and height, stroke thickness, and other criteria.

Section 407.4.9 provides criteria for emergency two-way communication systems in elevator cars which address the height of operable parts and identification by tactile characters. The proposed rule included requirements for the cord length of provided handsets and instructions. It also required that emergency signaling devices not be limited to voice communication. These requirements have been removed in the final rule because the referenced elevator safety code (ASME A17.1), as revised, adequately addresses these features or makes them unnecessary. For example, the ASME code prohibits the use of handsets since they are easily subject to vandalism, which obviates the need for specifications concerning the cord length.

Comment. Comments recommended that the guidelines address emergency communication systems located in a closed compartment and apply the specifications for operable parts in section 309 to compartment door hardware.

Response. The Board had included such a requirement in the draft of the final guidelines (407.4.9.6). In the final rule, the Board has removed this requirement since the ASME A17.1 safety code no longer permits emergency communication systems to be located within a closed compartment. However, the Board has retained provisions it had included that clarify the application of requirements for operable parts in 309.4 to call controls (407.2.1) and car controls (407.4.6).

Comment. In order to accommodate people with hearing or speech impairments, the proposed guidelines specified that the emergency communication system not rely solely on voice communication (407.2.13 in the proposed rule). The Board sought information and product literature on emergency communication devices and communication technologies that provide two-way communication in a manner accessible to people who are deaf and others who cannot use voice communication (Question 22). Comments, particularly those from groups representing persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, strongly supported such a requirement. They considered some form of interactive communication similar to that available through TTYs essential for providing equivalent access in emergencies. However, these comments did not specifically mention any technologies that are currently available to provide such access within elevator cars.

Response. Additional requirements for emergency communication systems are not included in the final rule. Further, the Board has removed specifications concerning the method of communication since the referenced elevator safety standard contains analogous provisions. Under such provisions, emergency communication systems cannot rely solely on voice communication. The ASME A17.1 code (section 2.27) requires provision of a push button labeled "HELP" which, when activated, initiates a call for help and establishes two-way communication. A visual signal is required on the same panel as the "HELP" button to notify persons with hearing impairments that the call for help has been received and two-way communication has been established. Voice (or other audible systems) with a visual display that provides information on the status of a rescue will meet this requirement. Clearly labeled visual displays can be as simple as lighted jewels that indicate that the call for help has been activated and that the message has been received. The visual signal is also required to indicate termination of the two-way communication link.

408 Limited-Use/Limited-Application Elevators

Section 408 provides requirements for limited-use/limited-application (LULA) elevators which correspond to section 407.4 in the proposed rule. LULA elevators are typically smaller and slower than other passenger elevators and are used for low-traffic, low-rise installations. This section provides specific criteria for these elevators and also references various provisions for standard elevators covered in section 407. Thus, some changes discussed above for standard elevators also pertain to LULA elevators as well. For example, the revision to the height of call buttons in section 407.2.1.1 (which are now subject to the basic reach range requirements instead of the previously specified range of 35 to 48 inches) also applies to LULA elevators. Additional changes in the final rule that are substantive in nature pertain to hoistways, car controls, and car sizes.

Comment. Some individuals and disability groups opposed the allowance of LULA elevators due to concerns about their size and accessibility. Industry, facility operators, designers and some disability groups strongly supported LULA elevators as an alternative where a standard elevator is not required.

Response. The Board has retained provisions for LULA elevators which are only permitted in facilities not required to have any elevator or as an alternative to platform lifts (206.6). Since this kind of elevator requires less space and costs less than standard elevators, LULA elevators will provide a more viable option where a form of vertical access would otherwise not be provided. The technical criteria for LULA elevators specify minimum car sizes that ensure adequate accessibility. In addition, they are required to comply with the applicable section of the elevator safety code (ASME/ANSI A17.1, Chapter XXV).

Comment. Requirements for standard elevators require that the main entry level be labeled by a tactile star at the hoistway (407.2.3.1). In the proposed rule, such a requirement was not included for LULA elevators. Comments suggested that such a requirement be included in the final rule for consistency.

Response. Requirements for hoistway signs for LULA elevators in section 408.2.3 have been replaced with a reference to corresponding requirements for standard elevators in section 407.2.3.1. This provision includes a requirement for a tactile star at the hoistway of the main entry level.

The guidelines specify that LULA elevator cars be at least 42 inches wide and 54 inches deep with a door on the narrow end providing at least 32 inches clear width (408.4.1). In the final rule, the Board has added alternate dimensions which are substantively consistent with the latest edition of the ANSI A117.1 standard. These dimensions permit a car at least 51 inches by 51 inches provided that the door has a clear width of at least 36 inches (408.4.1, Exception 1).

409 Private Residence Elevators

Residential dwelling units may be equipped with either a LULA elevator or a private residential elevator instead of a standard passenger elevator (206.6). Section 409 provides requirements for private residential elevators, which were located at section 1102.7 in the proposed rule. In the final rule, call buttons are subject to requirements in section 309 for operable parts, including clear floor space (309.2), height (309.3), and operation (309.4) according to section 409.2. In the proposed rule, they were subject only to requirements for height. In addition, the Board has applied requirements for the operation of operable parts (309.4) to controls (409.4.6) and the operable parts of emergency communication systems (409.4.7.2). No other substantive changes have been made to this section.

410 Platform Lifts

Section 410 provides requirements for platform lifts and addresses floor surfaces, clear floor space, operable parts, and doors and gates. This section has been updated to reference the new ASME A18.1 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts (410.1). This standard was under development when the proposed rule was published. This section has been reformatted and changes made to the specifications for doors and gates.

Comment. Platform lifts are required to have power-operated doors or gates. Those with doors or gates on opposing sides generally facilitate lift use by permitting a forward approach to both entry and exit doors or gates. As a result, these types of lifts are permitted to have a manual door or gates. The guidelines specify that manual doors or gates be "self-closing" (410.5, Exception). Comments noted that since the ASME/ANSI A18.1 standard requires such doors and gates to be self-closing, the specification in the rule was redundant.

Response. The Board has retained the requirement that manual doors or gates be self-closing (401.5, Exception) for consistency with the new ANSI A117.1 standard. In addition, the Board has added clarification, consistent with the ANSI standard, that the exception in section 410.5 does not apply to platform lifts serving more than two landings.

Comment. Commenters stressed that platform lifts should not be key operated.

Response. Previous editions of the safety code for lifts, not the Board’s guidelines, required platform lifts to be key operated. The most recent edition of the ASME standard, which the final rule references, does not contain a requirement for key operation.

Chapter 5: General Site and Building Elements

Chapter 5 provides technical criteria for parking spaces (502), passenger loading zones (503), stairways (504), and handrails (505).

502 Parking Spaces

Section 502 addresses car parking spaces and van parking spaces. Substantive changes pertain to the:

  • width of spaces, including van spaces, and access aisles (502.1 and 502.2)
  • location of access aisles for angled van spaces (502.3.4)
  • identification of van spaces (502.6)
  • adjacent accessible routes (502.7)

In the final rule, the Board has clarified how parking spaces and access aisles are to be measured. Where parking spaces are marked with lines, the width of parking spaces and access aisles is to be measured from the centerline of the markings (502.1). However, at spaces or access aisles not adjacent to another parking space or access aisle, width measurements are permitted to include the full width of the line defining the parking space or access aisle (502.1, Exception).

Comment. The proposed rule specified that car and van spaces be at least 8 feet wide and that access aisles be at least 5 feet wide for car spaces and at least 8 feet wide for van spaces. These specifications are consistent with the original ADAAG. However, that document also recognized an alternative "universal" design under which all spaces are designed to be accessible for vans or cars by incorporating additional space in the parking space instead of the access aisle. Under this design, parking spaces are at least 11 feet wide and access aisles at least 5 feet wide. Commenters requested that this design be recognized in final rule, at least for the portion of spaces required to be van accessible. Comments pointed out certain benefits of the alternative design, such as access aisles that are less likely to be mistaken for another parking space.

Response. The final rule includes specifications for alternative van parking spaces based on the "universal" design specifications (502.2). Van spaces are required to be at least 11 feet wide and to have an access aisle at least 5 feet wide. An exception allows van spaces to be 8 feet wide where the access aisle is at least 8 feet wide, which is consistent with the specifications of the proposed rule and the original ADAAG.

Comment. Requirements for access aisles in section 502.3 address width, length, marking, and location. Two spaces are permitted to share an access aisle. The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, allowed access aisles to be provided on either side of the parking space. Many commenters urged the Board to revisit this issue, particularly with respect to van parking. The lift provided on vans is typically located on the passenger side. It is important, especially where front-in only parking is provided, that the access aisle be located on the passenger side of van spaces.

Response. The Board has included a requirement that where angled spaces are provided, the access aisle must be located on the passenger side of van spaces (502.3.4). Otherwise, this provision permits access aisles to be located on either side of the space since drivers can pull in or back into spaces as needed.

To harmonize the guidelines with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard, the Board has added clarification that access aisles are not permitted to overlap vehicular ways (502.3.4).

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 commenters 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 Board has restored the requirement that the designation of van spaces include the term "van accessible" (502.6). This designation is not intended to restrict the use of spaces to vans only, but instead to identify those spaces better suited for vans. An advisory note to this effect is included in the final rule.

Comment. The proposed rule removed language in the original ADAAG that vehicles parked in accessible spaces not reduce the clear width of connecting accessible routes. The Board had considered this requirement redundant in view of specifications for accessible routes in section 402. Many commenters disagreed and urged that such a requirement be restored in the final rule. Some comments pointed out that the ANSI A1171.1 standard, like the original ADAAG, specifies that "parked vehicle overhangs shall not reduce the clear width of an accessible route."

Response. The Board has added a requirement that spaces and access aisles be designed so that parked vehicles "cannot obstruct the required clear width of adjacent accessible routes" (502.7). A typical design solution where accessible routes run in front of spaces is the provision of wheel stops that help prevent encroachment into the accessible route.

503 Passenger Loading Zones

Few comments addressed the technical requirements for passenger loading zones, and no substantive changes to them have been made. For consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard, the Board has clarified in the final rule that access aisles required at passenger loading zones are not permitted to overlap vehicular ways (503.3).

504 Stairways

Section 504 covers stairways, including treads, risers, nosings, and handrails. This section requires that landings subject to wet conditions be designed to prevent the accumulation of water (504.7). In the final rule, the Board has revised this requirement to apply to stair treads, as well as landings. No other substantive changes have been made to this section.

505 Handrails

Specifications for handrails in section 505 apply to those provided at ramps, stairs, and along walking surfaces. Revisions made to this section concern:

  • coverage of handrails provided along walking surfaces (505.1)
  • exceptions for aisle stairs and short ramps (505.2)
  • handrails at switchback or dogleg stairs and ramps (505.3)
  • gripping surfaces (505.6 and 505.8)
  • extensions (505.10)

Handrails are required along both sides of ramps and stairs. The Board has included a requirement (403.6) that handrails, where provided along walking surfaces, comply with section 505, as discussed above. The term "walking surfaces" applies to portions of accessible routes that are not treated as ramps because the running slope is less than 1:20. Consistent with this change, provisions in section 505 have been modified to specifically reference walking surfaces, including the general charging statement at 505.1. Walking surfaces are not subject to requirements for handrails on both sides (505.2) or handrail extensions (505.10).

In the final rule, an exemption from the requirements for stairways, including handrails, has been included for aisle stairs in assembly areas (210.1, Exception 3). An exception from the requirement for handrails on both sides for aisle ramps and aisle stairs has been revised for consistency. Specifically, the reference to aisle stairs in this exception has been removed as redundant.

Specifications for ramps require handrails only at ramps with a rise greater than 6 inches (405.8). Curb ramps are not subject to handrail requirements. The Board has removed as redundant an exception in the handrail section for ramps with a rise of 6 inches maximum (505.2, Exception 2).

The guidelines require handrails to be continuous within the full length of stair flights and ramp runs (505.3). The Board has added clarification, consistent with the original ADAAG, that the inside handrail at switchback or dogleg stairs and ramps be continuous. This change was made for consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that gripping surfaces be continuous and unobstructed by elements, including newel posts (505.6). An exception permitted brackets and balusters attached to the bottom of a handrail provided they did not obstruct more than 20% of the handrail length, their horizontal projection was at least 2 ½ inches from the bottom of the handrail, and their edges had a radius of at least c inch. Comments from the handrail industry, including manufacturers, trade associations, and others, indicated that these stipulations would effectively prohibit many common fabrication methods and would be unduly costly and burdensome on the industry while promising limited access benefits. Specifically, these comments indicated that many materials currently used will not meet the minimum c inch radius specifications. In addition, commenters claimed many current mounting brackets do not meet the 2 ½ inch minimum requirement for horizontal projections below the handrail, which is inconsistent with the 1 ½ inch minimum specified by model building codes. They also would preclude use of panels below handrails, which have become popular in meeting code requirements that prohibit openings in railings through which a 4 inch sphere can pass. Manufacturers stated that they have not received complaints about sharp edges and that some railing cross sections have been used for many years without injury. Opposing comments referred to ergonomic studies which support a 2 ¼ inch clearance below the handrail.

Response. The Board has revised some of the specifications for gripping surfaces in section 505.6 in order to accommodate a wider range of handrail materials and designs. The revised provisions prohibit obstructions on the top and sides of handrails, while the bottom may be obstructed up to 20% of the handrail length. This is generally consistent with the proposed rule. The Board believes that such a requirement will still permit popular designs such as panels under handrails so long as they are not directly connected to the entire length of the bottom of the handrail gripping surface. The requirement that horizontal projections occur 2 ½ inches minimum below the bottom of gripping surfaces has been changed to 1 ½ inches, consistent with model building codes and industry practice. In addition, the Board has added an exception for handrails along walking surfaces that permits obstructions along the entire bottom length that are integral to crash rails and bumper guards (505.6, Exception 1). Another exception, consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard and recommended by a comment to the draft of the final guidelines, allows the distance between horizontal projections and the gripping surface bottom to be reduced by c inch for each ½ inch of additional handrail perimeter dimension exceeding 4 inches (505.6, Exception 2). A requirement that bracket or baluster edges have a radius of c inch minimum has been removed. A similar specification for handrail surface edges in section 505.8 has been replaced with a requirement for "rounded edges."

Comment. Handrail extensions are required at the top and bottom of stairs. In the proposed rule, bottom extensions were required to extend one tread depth beyond the last riser nosing and an additional 12 inches (505.10.3). Comments advised that the requirement for the additional 12 inch segment should be removed, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard. Some comments also questioned the need for this segment at the bottom of stairs.

Response. The Board has removed the requirement that handrails extend an additional 12 inches at the bottom of stairs.

Chapter 6: Plumbing Elements and Facilities

Chapter 6 provides criteria for drinking fountains (602), toilet and bathing rooms (603), water closets and toilet compartments (604), urinals (605), lavatories and sinks (606), bathtubs (607), shower compartments (608), grab bars (609), tub and shower seats (610), laundry equipment (611), and saunas and steam rooms (612). Alternate specifications are provided for plumbing elements designed for children’s use as exceptions to requirements based on adult dimensions. These exceptions address drinking fountains, water closets, toilet compartments, lavatories and sinks.

602 Drinking Fountains

Specifications for drinking fountains in section 602 address access for people who use wheelchairs (602.2 through 602.6) and for people who do not, but who may have difficulty bending or stooping (602.7). Substantive changes to this section include:

  • removal of references to water coolers (602.1)
  • requiring all wheelchair accessible drinking fountains to provide knee and toe clearance for a forward approach (602.2)
  • lowering the minimum height of drinking fountains for standing persons (602.7)

Comment. The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, addressed both drinking fountains and water coolers. Comments advised that the guidelines should not address "water coolers," a term which is often used to refer to bottled units that are not plumbed or permanently fixed.

Response. The Board has removed the references to "water coolers" in section 602.1 for clarity and consistency with the scope of the guidelines.

Comment. For wheelchair access, the proposed rule required a forward approach at cantilevered units but allowed a parallel approach at other types of units, such as those that are floor mounted. A forward approach provides easier access than a parallel approach for people using wheelchairs. The Board sought comment on whether it should require a forward approach, which includes knee and toe clearances below the unit, at all wheelchair accessible drinking fountains (Question 24). Commenters overwhelmingly supported such a requirement as more appropriate for wheelchair access.

Response. The Board has revised the rule to require a clear floor space for a forward approach at all wheelchair accessible drinking fountains (602.2). Corresponding changes have been made to the specifications for spout location (602.5). An existing exception for units designed specifically for children’s use permits a parallel approach if certain criteria for spout height and location are met.

Comment. The proposed rule required spouts to provide a flow of water at least 4 inches high "to allow the insertion of a cup or glass." A comment noted that the rationale for this specification is not needed in the text of the requirement and might be misinterpreted as allowing cup dispensers as an alternative to accessible units.

Response. Language concerning the insertion of cups has been removed as unnecessary to the water flow specification. The minimum 4 inch height is intended to allow use of cups for persons who may need to use them. However, providing cup dispensers as an alternative to a compliant unit is not recognized by these guidelines in new construction or alterations.

Comment. Specifications for drinking fountains for standing persons address the height of the spout outlet (602.7). The proposed rule required a height of 39 to 43 inches above the floor or ground, a range that derives from the standard height of models on the market. A drinking fountain manufacturer requested that the minimum height be changed from 39 to 38 inches, consistent with referenced ergonomic data. This commenter advised that a 38 inch height will accommodate units that are intended to serve both adults and children.

Response. The minimum height for the spout outlet of units designed for use by standing persons has been lowered from 39 to 38 inches.

603 Toilet and Bathing Rooms

Section 603 covers toilet and bathing rooms and includes requirements for clear floor space, wheelchair turning space, permitted overlaps of various space requirements, and doors. Doors are not permitted to swing into clear floor space or clearance required for any fixture except under certain conditions (603.2.3). The Board has added clarification to this requirement, previously located in an advisory note, that doors are permitted to swing into the required wheelchair turning space.

The guidelines specify that accessible mirrors be mounted so that the bottom edge of the reflecting surface is no higher than 40 inches (603.3). The ANSI A117.1-2003 standard contains a new requirement that specifies a height of 35 inches maximum for accessible mirrors not located above a lavatory or countertop. This specification was adopted to accommodate persons of short stature. The Board has included a similar requirement in the final rule.

604 Water Closets and Toilet Compartments

Section 604 addresses access to water closets and toilet compartments. Revisions to the requirements for water closets concern:

  • location (604.2)
  • clearance (604.3)
  • grab bars (604.5)
  • flush controls (604.6)
  • dispensers (604.7)
  • toilet compartments (604.8), including those designed for children’s use (604.9)

In addition, provisions specific to water closets in residential dwelling units that were located in Chapter 11 in the proposed rule have been incorporated into this section. These include requirements for space at water closets (604.3), seat height (604.4), and grab bars (604.5).

Water closets are to be located so that the centerline is 16 to 18 inches from the side wall compartment partition (604.2). Water closets can be located so that this dimension is met on either the left side or the right side of the fixture. The Board has added clarification in the final rule that water closets shall be arranged for a left-hand or a right-hand approach. The proposed rule specified that water closets in ambulatory accessible stalls (which are required to be 36 inches wide) be "centered." In the final rule, the Board has revised this provision to recognize a range (17 to 19 inches) for the centered location that is consistent in scope (2 inches) with the specification for water closets in wheelchair accessible compartments. A corresponding change has been made to the provisions for water closets designed for children’s use (604.9.1).

Comment. Clearance requirements for water closets are covered in section 604.3. The proposed rule stated that no fixtures (other than the water closet) or obstructions were to be located within the clear floor space (604.3.1). Comments noted that this seemed to contradict a subsequent provision that allowed grab bars and dispensers to overlap this space (604.3.2).

Response. Language prohibiting fixtures and obstructions within the required clearances in section 604.3.1 has been removed. Section 604.3.2 recognizes those elements that are permitted to overlap this clearance.

Comment. The proposed rule identified certain elements that could overlap the clear floor space at water closets: associated grab bars, tissue dispensers, accessible routes, clear floor space at other fixtures, and wheelchair turning space (604.3.2). Commenters advised that other elements, such as coat hooks should be included, as well as other types of dispensers, such as those for toilet seat covers. In addition, the new ANSI A117.1 standard includes a reference to sanitary napkin disposal units.

Response. In the list of elements permitted to overlap water closet clearances, the Board has added references to "dispensers," "sanitary napkin disposal units," "coat hooks," and "shelves" (604.3.2).

Comment. Water closets not in compartments require clearance that is at least 60 inches wide and 56 inches deep. Many comments urged the Board to increase this depth so that at least 48 inches is provided in front of the water closet. Others recommended an overall depth of 78 inches.

Response. The Board has not revised the minimum dimensions for the clear floor space at water closets. Other criteria for toilet rooms, including turning space, maneuvering space at doors, and clearances at other fixtures, typically results in additional clearance at water closets not in compartments. The 48 inch specification measured from the leading edge of the water closet is derived from the ANSI A117.1-1992 standard. That specification was removed from the 1998 edition of the ANSI standard because it was extremely difficult to enforce due to the varying installation styles and sizes of water closets. However, the Board has revised the specified depth in residential dwelling units where lavatories are permitted to overlap the space aside water closets.

Other fixtures, such as lavatories, generally are not permitted to overlap the clearance required at water closets. However, in residential dwelling units, an accessible lavatory adjacent to water closets can overlap this space (18 inches minimum from the water closet centerline) if additional space is provided in front of the water closet. Specifically, the depth of the clearance must be at least 66 inches instead of 56 inches (604.3.2, Exception). The proposed rule required this additional space in front of the fixture where only a forward approach to the water closet is provided (1102.11.5.2). It did not require additional space where a side approach to the water closet is provided. Locating lavatories outside the specified water closet clearance allows more options in the approach and transfer to water closets. The overlap of an adjacent lavatory effectively precludes side transfers to the water closet. The Board believes that additional space where lavatories overlap water closet clearances can be beneficial regardless of the approach direction. In the final rule, the 66 inch minimum depth applies whether a forward or a parallel approach to the water closet is provided. The proposed rule also allowed a minimum width for the clearance of 48 inches instead of 60 inches where a lavatory overlaps the space, regardless of the approach (1102.11.5.2). In effect, however, space at least 60 inches wide is needed in meeting other requirements, such as the clear floor space required at the adjacent lavatory and wheelchair turning space. Consequently, the Board has removed the 48 inch specification in the final rule.

Specifications for grab bars are addressed in section 604.5. Grab bars are required on one side wall and the rear wall. Exceptions from this requirement are provided for residential dwelling units, where grab bars can be installed later so long as the proper reinforcement is installed in walls as part of design and construction (Exception 2), and for holding or housing cells specially designed without protrusions for purposes of suicide prevention (Exception 3). In the proposed rule, these exceptions were located in the chapter on residential dwelling units (1102.11.5.4) and the scoping section for detention and correctional facilities (233.3).

Comment. The proposed rule specified that the rear grab bar be 24 inches long minimum, centered on the water closet, or at least 36 inches long "where wall space permits" (604.5.2). Commenters considered this provision confusing and requested clarification on where the 24 inches would be permitted. Some comments urged removal of the 24 inches specification.

Response. The proposed rule included provisions that make clear floor space requirements at water closets more stringent by not allowing other fixtures, such as lavatories to overlap the space. Saving space by locating a lavatory closer to the water closet on the

same plumbing wall could only be accomplished by recessing the lavatory so that it does not overlap the clear floor space at the water closet. A grab bar 36 inches long would limit the amount of space saved in recessing an adjacent lavatory. For clarity, the Board has revised this allowance as an exception. In the final rule, section 604.5.2 requires the rear grab bar to be 36 inches long minimum. An exception allows a 24 inch long minimum grab bar, centered on the water closet, "where wall space does not permit a length 36 inches minimum due to the location of a recessed fixture adjacent to the water closet" (604.5.2, Exception 1).

Comment. Section 604.6 covers flush controls, which must be hand operated or automatic. Hand operated types are subject to requirements for operable parts, including reach ranges, addressed in section 309. The original ADAAG specified that the controls be located on the wide side of the water closet. Comments requested that this specification be restored since controls on the wide side of water closets are easier to access.

Response. The final rule includes a requirement that "flush controls shall be located on the open side of the water closet except in ambulatory accessible compartments" (604.6).

Comment. Requirements for toilet paper dispensers in section 604.7 include specifications for height. They must be mounted at least 1 ½ inches below grab bars or, according to the proposed rule, at least 12 inches above. Commenters noted that the 12 inch minimum was inconsistent with provisions for grab bars in section 609 which specify a minimum clearance of 15 inches between grab bars and protruding objects above them (609.2). Some commenters felt that toilet paper dispensers should not be allowed above grab bars in any case since the large roll type, which often cannot fit below grab bars, compromise the usability of the grab bar.

Response. In the final rule, the specified clearance between grab bars and dispensers mounted above them has been revised for consistency with the grab bar specifications in section 609. Specifications in section 604.7 concerning this clearance have been removed since the required clearance between dispensers and grab bars is adequately covered in section 609, which, as revised, requires a minimum clearance of 12 inches above grab bars and a minimum clearance of 1 ½ inches below grab bars (609.3). This may effectively preclude some dispensers from being located above grab bars in view of the minimum mounting height of grab bars (33 inches, measured to the top of the gripping surface) and the maximum height for the dispenser outlet (48 inches). Since some dispensers may be recessed, the Board has added clarification in section 604.7 that dispensers cannot be located behind grab bars.

Section 604.8 provides requirements for wheelchair accessible compartments and those that are designed to accommodate persons with disabilities who are ambulatory.

Comment. Commenters noted that baby changing tables should not be permitted in accessible compartments since they can interfere with access. On the other hand, some comments advised that baby changing tables need to be accessible.

Response. The specified dimensions of toilet compartments provide the minimum amount of space necessary for wheelchair maneuvering into the compartment, positioning at the fixture, and exit from the compartment. Certain elements are permitted to overlap space at water closets, such as grab bars, paper dispensers, and coat hooks (604.3.2). Other elements, including baby changing tables, are not allowed to overlap the minimum amount of space required in compartments. Where such elements are provided in accessible compartments, they must be located outside the minimum space dimensions (when folded up in the case of baby changing tables). In addition, convenience fixtures, such as baby changing tables, must be accessible to persons with disabilities under scoping provisions for operable parts (205) and work surfaces (226). This information is provided in the final rule in an advisory note at section 604.8.1.1.

Comment. Specifications are provided for doors, including their location. The proposed rule specified the location of doors in the front partition, which were required to be hinged 4 inches from the side wall or partition farthest from the water closet (604.8.1.2). Comments suggested that an alternate location in the side partition farthest from the water closet should be allowed, consistent with the original ADAAG. Commenters also pointed out that the specified location should refer to the door opening, instead of the hinge.

Response. Specifications for the location of compartment doors in side partitions are included in the final rule, consistent with the original ADAAG. The specified location in either front and side locations has been revised to apply to the door opening, instead of the hinge.

Comment. The proposed rule referred to ambulatory accessible compartments as "non-wheelchair accessible" compartments. Commenters considered this term confusing since it also encompasses inaccessible compartments. Preference was expressed for "ambulatory accessible" compartments, the term used by the advisory committee.

Response. The term "non-wheelchair accessible" compartments has been replaced with "ambulatory accessible" compartments.

Ambulatory accessible compartments were specified to be 36 inches wide absolute in the proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG. Throughout the new guidelines, the Board has sought to specify dimensions as a range instead of in absolute terms where practicable to facilitate compliance without compromising accessibility. The width of ambulatory compartments is specified to ensure that the grab bars required on both sides are simultaneously within reach. In the final rule, the Board has replaced the 36 inch wide specification with a range of 35 to 37 inches.

Section 604. 9 provides specifications for water closets designed for children’s use. In the proposed rule, this section included criteria for wheelchair accessible compartments. In the final rule, requirements have been integrated in the section covering wheelchair accessible compartments for adults (604.8.1) to reduce redundancy.

605 Urinals

Section 604.5 provides criteria for accessible urinals, including the height and depth, clear floor space, and flush controls.

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board sought to clarify the requirement in the original ADAAG that accessible urinals have an "elongated" rim by specifying a minimum dimension of 13 ½ inches, measured from the outer face of the urinal rim to the back of the fixture (605.2). Comments were evenly divided on this new specification.

Response. The Board has retained the minimum depth specification without modification. However, in the final rule scoping for accessible urinals has been revised to apply only where more than one urinal is provided in a toilet or bathing room (213.3.3).

Requirements for urinal flush controls are provided in section 605.4. The proposed rule specified a maximum height of 44 inches (the maximum height for obstructed forward reaches). In the final rule, this requirement has been revised to reference section 309 which provides specifications for operable parts, including accessible reach ranges. This change is consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

606 Lavatories and Sinks

Section 606 provides technical criteria for lavatories and sinks. Various scoping and technical provisions invoke these requirements for lavatories in toilet and bathing facilities and for sinks provided in dwelling unit kitchens, kitchenettes in transient lodging guest rooms, and other spaces, such as break rooms. Revisions made to this section include:

  • clarifying the scope of this section (606.1)
  • adding a new exception that allows a parallel approach at kitchen sinks in spaces where a cook top or conventional range is not provided (606.2, Exception 1)
  • clarifying coverage of metering faucets (606.4)

In addition, allowances specific to lavatories and kitchen sinks in residential dwelling units have been relocated to this section from Chapter 11. These specifications concern clear floor space requirements (606.2, Exception 3) and heights (606.3, Exception 2).

Comment. The proposed rule included references to "lavatory fixtures" and to "vanities." Commenters indicated that such references were redundant or inaccurate and should be removed.

Response. References to "lavatory fixtures" and "vanities" have been removed in the final rule (606.1).

Accessible lavatories and sinks must provide knee and toe clearance for a forward approach (606.2). Consistent with the proposed rule, exceptions from the requirement for forward approach clearances are provided for certain types of spaces and fixtures, such as single-user toilet or bathing facilities accessed only through a private office (Exception 2), lavatories and kitchen sinks in residential dwelling units provided certain conditions to facilitate retrofit for a forward approach are met (Exception 3), and fixtures designed specifically for children 5 years and younger (Exception 5).

Comment. Commenters recommended that a parallel approach should be allowed at kitchen sinks in spaces without a cook top or conventional range, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard. Several comments considered a parallel approach to be appropriate at kitchenette sinks in transient lodging guest rooms, consistent with the original ADAAG, and sinks in employee break rooms, since such fixtures are typically used for limited purposes or durations.

Response. The final rule includes an exception, consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard, that allows a complying parallel approach to kitchen sinks in spaces where a cook top or conventional range is not provided (606.2, Exception 1). This exception also applies to wet bars.

Comment. Faucets, including hand-operated metering faucets, must remain open for at least 10 seconds (606.4). The proposed rule referred to these as "self-closing" faucets. Commenters indicated that "metering" is a descriptor that is more accurate and consistent with plumbing codes.

Response. The reference to "self-closing" faucets has been replaced with "metering" faucets in the final rule.

607 Bathtubs

Specifications for bathtubs in section 607 address clear floor space, seats, grab bars, operable parts, shower spray units, and enclosures. Changes made to this section include:

  • revision of grab bar mounting heights (607.4)
  • integration of provisions for grab bars specific to residential dwelling units that were located in Chapter 11 (607.4, Exception 2)
  • revision of specifications for shower spray units and water temperature (607.6)

Two parallel grab bars are required on the back wall of bathtubs with seats (607.4.1.1) and without seats (607.4.2.1). The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, specified that the lower grab bar be located 9 inches absolute above the bathtub rim. In finalizing this rule, the Board has sought to specify dimensions as a range instead of in absolute terms where possible to facilitate compliance without compromising accessibility. With respect to the lower grab bar at bathtubs, the specified mounting height has been changed to a range of 8 inches minimum to 10 inches maximum above the rim of the bathtub.

Comment. The guidelines require tubs to have shower spray units that can be used as both a fixed-position shower head and a hand-held shower (607.6). In the proposed rule, the Board included a requirement that shower spray units have a water on/off control for greater access. It was also specified that units deliver water that is thermal shock protected to 120 degrees. Comments from persons with disabilities strongly supported the requirement for the on/off control. However, comments from the plumbing industry indicated that the requirement, as worded, would pose cross connections and thermal shock hazards and would conflict with model codes and industry standards. Comments also noted that delivered water should be "temperature limited" to the specified maximum (120 degrees) for consistency with American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) standards.

Response. In response to concerns raised about the on/off control for spray units the Board has modified this requirement to include an on/off control "with a non-positive shut-off." This will prevent cross connections and does not conflict with plumbing codes. In addition, while the phrase "temperature limited" was not deemed necessary, the specification for water temperature has been revised to require that delivered water be 120 degrees maximum for consistency with ASSE standards. Corresponding revisions have been made to similar requirements for shower compartments (608.6).

608 Shower Compartments

Section 608 addresses transfer showers and roll-in showers and provides specifications for size and clearances, grab bars, seats, operable parts, shower spray units, thresholds, and enclosures. Revisions made to this section address:

  • clearance requirements for roll-in showers (608.2.2)
  • alternate roll-in showers (608.2.3)
  • shower seats (608.4)
  • the location and operation of controls, faucets, and spray units (608.5)
  • shower spray units and water temperature (608.6)
  • a new exception for fixed shower heads (608.6)
  • thresholds (608.7)

In addition, provisions specific to showers in residential dwelling units that were located in Chapter 11 have been incorporated into this section. These provisions concern grab bars (608.3, Exception 2) and shower seats (608.4, Exception).

Comment. Specifications for roll-in shower compartments indicate that an accessible lavatory can overlap the required clear floor space opposite the end with a seat and shower controls (608.2.2). Comments recommended that this provision be revised to recognize that a seat may not always be located in a roll-in shower.

Response. The Board has clarified that accessible lavatories are permitted to overlap clear floor space "opposite the shower compartment side where shower controls are positioned or where a seat is positioned" (608.2.2.1, Exception). Clarification is also provided that lavatories can be provided at either end of the space at roll-in showers without seats where controls are mounted on the back wall.

Comment. Specifications are provided for alternate roll-in showers, including their size and the location of entries (608.2.3). Comments indicated that this provision should be more specific in detailing the design illustrated (Figure 608.2.3).

Response. More detail is provided in the final rule for the configuration of alternate roll-in type showers consistent with the intent of the proposed rule. The revised language clarifies the location of the entry at the end of the long side of the compartment (608.2.3).

Comment. Seats are required in transfer compartments and roll-in showers in transient lodging guest rooms (608.4). The proposed rule indicated that transfer compartments may have "attachable or integral seats," while folding seats were specified for roll-in showers provided in transient lodging guest rooms.

Response. The Board has revised the rule to permit "folding or non-folding" seats in transfer compartments. A certain portion of accessible guest rooms are required to have bathrooms with roll-in showers (224.2). The requirement for folding seats has been revised to apply only to those roll-in showers "required" in transient lodging guest rooms. For example, a hotel with 100 guest rooms would be required to have at least 5 guest rooms that are accessible, one of which would have to provide a roll-in shower; the shower provided in this room would be required to have a folding seat, while the other 4 rooms could be equipped with either tubs, transfer showers, roll-in showers with or without seats, or some combination thereof.

Comment. In transfer compartments, controls, faucets, and shower spray units were to be located no more than 15 inches on either side of the seat centerline, according to the proposed rule (608.5.1). Comments indicated that this specification was not consistent with a corresponding figure showing the location on the side closest to the shower opening.

Response. The final rule has been revised to require that controls and operable parts be located 15 inches maximum from the centerline of the seat toward the shower opening. This is consistent with the intent of the specification so that users can activate the controls before entering the shower.

Specifications for controls, faucets, and shower spray units for alternate roll-in showers are provided in section 608.5.3. In the final rule, the Board has clarified these specifications and provided more detail on their location depending on whether the shower is equipped with a seat. In addition, the final rule allows shower controls, faucets, and shower spray units to be located on the wall adjacent to the seat, as proposed, or on the back wall opposite the seat. These revisions are consistent with similar clarifications in the latest edition of ANSI A117.1 standard.

Showers, like bathtubs, are required to be equipped with movable shower spray units that can be used as a fixed-position shower head and a hand-held shower (608.6). Specifications have been revised in the final rule, consistent with similar requirements for bathtubs, in response to concerns raised by commenters about the on/off control and water temperature as specified in the proposed rule, discussed above at section 607.6.

Comment. The original ADAAG allowed fixed shower heads 48 inches high maximum to be used instead of the required hand-held unit in "unmonitored facilities where vandalism is a consideration." This exception had been removed in the proposed rule due to a lack of clarity on the types of facilities that qualify for this exception. Commenters urged the Board to retain this exception due to problems with vandalism which would increase maintenance at accessible transfer showers.

Response. The final rule includes an exception permitting a fixed shower head in certain facilities (608.6, Exception). The Board has limited this exception so that it does not apply to facilities where vandalism is less likely to occur because the use of bathing facilities is controlled or because incidents of vandalism are traceable. These include bathing facilities in medical care facilities, long term care facilities, transient lodging guest rooms, and residential dwelling units.

Comment. The proposed rule specified a maximum threshold height of ½ inch, provided that those greater than ¼ inch are beveled with a slope of 1:2 maximum (608.7). This provision applied to roll-in showers and to transfer showers. Commenters recommended that a higher threshold be permitted for transfer showers since wheelchair maneuvering over the threshold is not necessary in using the shower.

Response. The Board retained the ½ inch threshold height since positioning for transfer to the seat of transfer showers can be aided where a close approach enables footrests to clear the threshold. However, the Board has revised the specification to allow thresholds at transfer compartments to be vertical or rounded instead of beveled. In addition, the Board has provided an exception for existing facilities to address situations where meeting the maximum threshold height, which is typically achieved by recessing shower pans into the floor, is difficult, if not infeasible, due to certain floor slabs. The final rule includes an exception that permits a threshold up to 2 inches high at transfer showers in existing facilities where providing a ½ inch threshold would disturb the structural reinforcement of the floor slab (608.7, Exception).

609 Grab Bars

Section 609 covers grab bars at water closets, bathtubs, and showers. Specifications address size, spacing, position, surfaces, fittings, and structural strength. Changes to this section address:

  • cross section specifications (609.2)
  • spacing (609.3)
  • location (609.4
  • surface hazards (609.5)

The proposed rule specified 1 ¼ to 1 ½ circular cross sections. Non-circular cross sections were to have maximum cross section dimensions of 2 inches, a perimeter dimension between 4 and 4-11/16 inches, and edges with a c inch minimum radius. For consistency with specifications for handrails, the Board has revised requirements for size (609.2) and spacing (609.3). In the final rule, the maximum circular cross section has been changed from 1 ½ inches to 2 inches. Edges must be rounded, and the requirement that edges have a c inch minimum radius (609.2 in the proposed rule) has been removed. The Board has clarified that the space between grab bars and projecting objects below and at the ends shall be 1 ½ inches minimum, consistent with criteria for water closets, tubs, and showers (609.3). In addition, the minimum clearance between grab bars and protruding objects above has been changed from 15 inches to 12 inches (609.3), consistent with specifications for toilet paper dispensers included in the proposed rule (604.7) and the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

Comment. Commenters pointed out the proposed rule was not clear on whether the height of grab bars was to be measured to the top or to the centerline.

Response. The Board has clarified that the height of grab bars is measured to the top of the gripping surface (609.4).

610 Seats

Requirements for bathtub and shower seats are provided in section 610.

Comment. Specifications are provided for rectangular and L-shaped shower seats (610.3). The Board sought comment on whether one shape is more usable and accessible than the other (Question 25). Comments were evenly divided in supporting one design over the other. Some comments supported both designs or indicated that there was little difference in access or usability between the two.

Response. No changes have been made to the specifications for shower seats. Either rectangular or L-shaped seats may be provided in transfer and roll-in showers.

The guidelines specify the location of seats in tubs, transfer-type showers, and roll-in showers. In the final guidelines, the Board has clarified the location of seats in roll-in showers and alternate roll-in type showers. These changes are consistent with revisions to the placement of shower controls and spray units in alternate roll-in shower stalls (605.8.3).

611 Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers

Section 611 covers washing machines and clothes dryers and provides specifications for clear floor space, operable parts, and height.

Comment. The proposed rule required the door of top loading machines and the door opening of front loading machines to be 34 inches maximum above the floor (611.4). This dimension stems from specifications for obstructed side reaches (308.3). Laundry machine manufacturers stated that this specification is inconsistent with standard industry design, which allows a 36 inch height. Commenters indicated that compliance with the proposed specification would reduce machine capacity and would be difficult to achieve.

Response. The Board has revised the maximum height for doors on top loading machines and the door opening of front loading machines from 34 inches to 36 inches (611.4).

612 Saunas and Steam Rooms

Section 612 provides requirements for saunas and steam rooms and includes requirements for benches and turning space. This section derives from the guidelines the Board developed for recreation facilities and has been included in the final rule without substantive change.

Chapter 7: Communication Elements and Features

Chapter 7 covers communication elements and features, including fire alarm systems (702), signs (703), telephones (704), detectable warnings (705), assistive listening systems (706), automatic teller machines and fare machines (707), and two-way communication systems (708).

702 Fire Alarm Systems

The proposed rule provided detailed specifications for the audible and visual characteristics of fire alarm systems, including the sound level and the color, intensity, flash rate, location, and dispersion of visual appliances. Through coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and ANSI, which were represented on the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee, the proposed criteria were virtually identical to updated requirements in the NFPA 72 (1996) and the ANSI A117.1 standards. However, the Board had proposed a lower maximum sound level for audible alarms (110 decibels instead of 120 decibels) as more appropriate and to guard against tinnitus.

Comment. Comments from the codes community and designers urged the Board to reference the NFPA alarm criteria for purposes of consistency and simplicity, instead of restating very similar requirements in the guidelines.

Response. Since the technical provisions in the proposed rule were substantively identical to the NFPA 72, except for the maximum sound level, the Board has replaced the technical requirements for fire alarm systems with a requirement that such systems comply with NFPA 72, Chapter 4 (702.1). However, the Board has retained the specification that the maximum sound level of audible notification appliances be 110 decibels, as well as an exception for medical care facilities that permits fire alarm systems to be provided in accordance with industry practice. In addition, the Board has clarified that compliant fire alarm systems must be "permanently installed." The Board is not aware of portable systems currently available that meet the referenced NFPA specifications. Information on the referenced NFPA requirements for fire alarm systems is posted on the Board’s website at www.access-board.gov and in advisory notes.

Comment. Commenters supported limiting the sound level to 110 decibels, as proposed. However, some commenters noted that this did not conform with the maximum of 120 decibels specified in NFPA 72.

Response. The Board has retained the 110 decibel specification as more appropriate, which, as a lower maximum, does not contradict the NFPA 72. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that the maximum sound level applies to the "minimum hearing distance from the audible appliance," which is consistent with the NFPA 72.

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board sought comment on whether the frequency of audible alarms should be addressed and requested information on the optimal frequency range for people who are hard of hearing along with any available supporting data (Question 26). Most commenters favored a specified frequency range but few provided information, including supporting data, on what the range should be.

Response. The Board has not included in the final rule a specification for the frequency of audible alarms.

703 Signs

Requirements for signs provide specifications for raised characters (703.2), braille characters (703.3), the height and location of signs with tactile characters (703.4), visual characters (703.5), pictograms (703.6), and symbols of accessibility (703.7). This section has been reorganized and simplified in the final rule. Substantive changes include:

  • reorganizing and simplifying criteria for signs required to provide both tactile and visual access (703.2)
  • revising specifications for raised characters that cover height (703.2.5), stroke thickness (703.2.6), and spacing (703.2.7)
  • modifying specifications for braille (703.3 and 703.4.1)
  • recognizing elevator car controls in specifications for the height of visual characters (703.5.6)
  • revising the location of text descriptors of pictograms (703.6.3)

Scoping requirements for signs in section 216 cover room designations, which are required to be tactile, and directional and informational signs which are not required to be tactile but must meet requirements for visual access. The proposed rule specified that tactile signs, where required, meet specifications for both tactile and visual characteristics. The proposed rule also applied specifications based on whether the requirements were met with one sign or separately through two signs. There were some differences between the requirements for combined tactile-visual signs and those provided separately, which represented slight compromises in the desired level considered necessary for signs providing both tactile and visual access. The proposed rule provided criteria where characters are both tactile and visual (703.2) and criteria for tactile characters (703.3) and visual characters (703.4) that are provided separately.

Comment. Commenters considered the section on signs to be unduly complex and redundant and urged the Board to simplify the signage criteria.

Response. The repetition and complexity of the signage section stemmed from detailing requirements separately for signs where one set of character forms meet the tactile and visual specifications and for signs where such criteria are met separately through two set of character forms. Many of the specifications were the same for both types of signs. In the final rule, the Board has simplified the section and removed repetitive specifications while preserving most of the substance of the requirements as proposed. As reorganized, signs required to provide tactile and visual access must meet criteria for tactile characters (703.2), braille (703.3), mounting height and location (703.4), and visual characters (703.5). However, where access is provided through one set of characters, not all the requirements for visual access must be met. This is clarified in an exception which, consistent with the proposed rule, applies only the specifications for finish and contrast to tactile characters that are also visual (703.5, Exception).

Specifications for raised characters in section 703.2 address the depth, case, style or font type, character proportion and height, stroke thickness, and character and line spacing. The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, specified a character height between e inch and 2 inches. However, the proposed rule provided a tighter specification (½ to ¾ inch) for raised characters on signs where visual access is provided on a separate sign face because it is believed that smaller characters can be easier to read tactually. Since the specification for combination signs acknowledges that 2 inch characters are readable tactually, setting a different maximum seems unnecessary. The final rule retains the specified range of e to 2 inches, but an exception allows a ½ inch minimum where the same information is provided separately on a visual sign (703.2.5).

In the proposed rule, specifications for stroke thickness were based on the type of character cross section on signs providing both tactile and visual access (703.2.3.5). For characters with rectangular cross sections, a stroke thickness of 10% to 15% of the character height was specified (based on the uppercase "I"). For those with non-rectangular cross sections, the stroke thickness was specified to be 15% maximum of the character height (measured at the top of the cross section) and 10% to 30% (measured at the base). Where tactile and visual characters are provided on separate signs, the proposed rule specified that the stroke thickness of tactile characters be no greater than 15% of the character height (703.3.2.5).

Comment. Comments, including those from the signage industry, considered the specification based on the type of cross section to be unnecessarily complicated. Some comments pointed out that measurement and tactile reading of characters occur at the face, regardless of the cross section shape. Distinctions based on the cross section may be difficult to distinguish and enforce with respect to characters that are raised 1/32 inch, according to commenters. They advised that a single specification would facilitate compliance while having little effect on access.

Response. The Board has simplified the requirement for stroke thickness by relying solely on the specification that was included in the proposed rule for signs with tactile characters only. This specification requires a stroke thickness that is 15% of the character height (based on an uppercase "I"), regardless of the type of cross section (703.2.6).

As with stroke thickness, the proposed rule specified character spacing based on the type of cross section where signs provide both tactile and visual characters (703.2.4). A space of c inch to d inch was specified for characters with rectangular cross sections. For those with non-rectangular cross sections, this range applied to the top of the cross section and a range of 1/16 inch to d inch was permitted at the base. Where visual characters are provided on a separate sign, the proposed rule required spacing of c inch to ¼ inch between characters (703.3.3).

Comment. Comments advised that this specification was too restrictive and did not take into account increased spacing for larger size characters (the permitted range allows heights up to 2 inches). It was recommended that spacing based on the stroke thickness of characters will provide proper spacing for tactile recognition and facilitate compliance. Some commenters pointed out that good practice may include varying the space between characters for optimum visual legibility. Some comments recommended a spacing range that was at least as wide as the stroke thickness and no more than four times this width.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has revised the specification for character spacing (703.2.7). As recommended by commenters, the specified spacing range has been broadened to allow spacing up to four times the stroke width of raised characters. The Board has retained the minimum spacing requirements of the proposed guidelines and the distinction between characters with rectangular cross sections (c inch minimum) and those without (c minimum measured at the top and 1/16 minimum measured at the base).

Section 703.3 provides specifications for braille, including the dimensions and position.

Comment. Braille is to be located below the corresponding text. Commenters noted that it is common practice to locate braille next to the text on some signs, such as room numbers. These comments urged the Board to revise this specification to allow braille placement adjacent to text, as is permitted on elevator car controls.

Response. The Board believes that a uniform location facilitates the use of braille. No changes have been made to the specified position below corresponding text.

Braille does not include different upper and lower case letters. Instead, a character symbol is used to indicate capitalization. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that indication of uppercase letters is to be used only before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms (703.3.1). A similar clarification has been included in the new ANSI A117.1 standard.

The proposed guidelines specified that braille be separated at least ¼ inch from other tactile characters and at least d inch from raised borders and other decorative elements (703.3.2). In the final rule, the Board has revised the minimum separation between braille and tactile characters from ¼ inch to d inch for consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

Section 703.4 covers the mounting height and location of signs with tactile characters. Such signs are to be mounted so that the tactile elements (raised characters and braille) are between 48 to 60 inches high, measured to the baseline of characters.

Comment. The proposed rule specified a range of height of 48 to 60 inches for raised characters and a range of 40 to 60 inches for braille. Commenters considered the 40 inch specification too low, as research suggests that braille mounted below 48 inches can be difficult to read. Further, comments noted that the minimum 40 inch height did not correlate with the minimum specified for raised characters.

Response. The Board combined the height and location requirements for raised and braille characters into one section (703.4) for clarification and simplicity. As a result, the height of braille and raised characters are held to the same range: 48 to 60 inches above the floor or ground (703.4.1).

Tactile signs are required to be located alongside the latch side of doors so that clear floor space at least 18 by 18 inches, centered on the tactile characters, is provided outside the door swing (703.4.2). At double doors with two active leafs, signs are to be located on the right-hand side or, if no wall space is available, on the nearest adjacent wall. Signs are permitted on the push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.

Comment. A commenter advised that the specification should address double doors with only one active leaf.

Response. The Board has added a provision for double doors with one active leaf which requires the location of signs on the inactive leaf (703.4.2).

Section 703.5 provides specifications for visual characters which address finish and contrast, case, style, character proportions and height, height, stroke thickness, and character and line spacing. As part of the reorganization of the signage requirements, the Board has added an exception, consistent with the proposed rule, which applies only the specifications for finish and contrast (703.5.1) where tactile and visual access are provided through the same characters. Where signs provide tactile and visual access separately, visual characters must comply with all applicable specifications in section 703.5.

Visual characters are required to be located at least 40 inches high (703.5.6). For consistency with specifications for elevators in section 407, the Board has added an exception noting that the 40 inch minimum does not apply to visual characters indicating elevator car controls (703.5.6, Exception).

Section 703.6 contains requirements for pictograms. This section applies to those pictograms, where provided, that are used to label permanent interior rooms and spaces. The specifications of 703.6 do not apply to other types of pictograms, including those specified in section 703.7 to label various accessible elements and spaces. Under 703.6.3, text descriptors with raised and braille characters are required below pictograms. The proposed rule allowed alternative placement adjacent to pictograms. The Board has removed this alternative in the final rule to enhance uniformity in the location of tactile text descriptors.

704 Telephones

Section 704 provides technical criteria for telephones, including provisions for wheelchair access (704.2), volume control (704.3), and TTYs (704.4). Most comments addressed specifications for volume controls and TTYs.

All public telephones are required to be equipped with volume control, as discussed above in section 217. This is consistent with other Board guidelines covering access to telecommunications products issued under section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible. Section 704.3 requires volume controls that provide a gain up to at least 20 decibels and an intermediate gain of 12 decibels, and have an automatic reset.

Comment. Persons who are hard of hearing and disability organizations urged an increase in the sound level of phones equipped with volume control. Some commenters specifically recommended a minimum 25 decibels or greater. The Board sought comment from pay telephone manufacturers and providers on the time frame necessary to produce products that meet the proposed specifications for volume control (Question 27). Few comments from industry addressed this question, though other commenters suggested that meeting the proposed volume control specifications should not be difficult under current telephone technology.

Response. The proposed specification was consistent with accessibility guidelines the Board issued under section 255 of the Telecommunications Act and standards issued under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments. In rulemaking on the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines, similar comments were received from persons who are hard of hearing who reported having trouble using public pay telephones because of inadequate receiver amplification levels and who supported adjustable amplification ranging from 18-25 decibels of gain. However, several telephone manufacturers cited the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1996, which requires the Federal government to make use of technical specifications and practices established by private, voluntary standard-setting bodies, wherever possible. The ANSI A117.1 standard requires certain public pay telephones to provide 12 decibels of gain minimum and up to 20 decibels maximum and that an automatic reset be provided. In recognition of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act, this amplification level was specified in the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines. The Board has retained the 20 decibel specification in this final rule (704.3) for consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard, the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines, and the Board’s section 508 standards.

Comment. Mute features on public pay telephones can increase audibility by temporarily disconnecting the telephone’s microphone while the user listens through the earpiece so that background noise is not amplified through the earpiece. In the proposed rule, the Board requested information on the feasibility and cost of equipping new and existing public pay telephones with a mute button and whether such a requirement should be included in the final rule (Question 28). Few comments addressed this issue. Those that did generally supported such a requirement, although information on feasibility and cost was not received.

Response. While the Board believes that mute buttons could benefit all telephone users in noisy environments, particularly those who are hard of hearing, the Board has opted not to establish such a requirement at this time due to the absence of product information and cost data.

The proposed guidelines included a provision that applied the criteria for protruding objects in section 307 to wheelchair accessible telephones and enclosures (704.2.3). The Board has removed this provision as unnecessary in the final rule. Section 307 applies to a variety of building elements, including telephones and enclosures, under the scoping provision for protruding objects (204). This revision is consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

Section 704.4 provides specifications for TTYs. The proposed rule included requirements so that TTYs were accessible to persons who use wheelchairs. This included a requirement that the touch surface of TTY keypads be 30 to 34 inches high (704.4.1).

Comment. Many commenters indicated that TTYs are mounted too low to be used comfortably by people not using wheelchairs. According to these commenters, compliance with wheelchair access provisions greatly compromises their usability by the majority of persons with hearing or speech impairments who do not use wheelchairs. Commenters urged that a higher surface height for TTY keypads be specified. Organizations representing persons who are deaf recommended a keyboard height of 33 to 35 inches where users are expected to stand. A manufacturer of TTY-equipped pay telephones indicated that its products provide TTY keypads at a height of 36 to 40 inches and requested that this range be permitted.

Response. The Board has revised the specified height of TTY keypads from the proposed range of 30 to 34 inches to a minimum of 34 inches (704.4.1). In addition, the Board has removed other specifications concerning wheelchair access, which is consistent with the original ADAAG. These specifications include a requirement that the operable parts of both the TTY and the telephone be accessible according to section 309, which specifies accessible reach ranges, and provide clear floor space for a forward approach to the TTY. However, these changes do not impact the requirements for other types of telephones required to be wheelchair accessible according to section 704.2.

Comment. The proposed rule provided an exception from the height and clearance requirements for TTYs at telephones located in cubicles equipped with fixed seats (704.4.1). As proposed, this exception applied only to assembly occupancies and allowed half of TTYs at telephones with seats not to comply. Comments recommended that this exception apply to other types of facilities since seats at phones may provide a desired convenience for TTY users.

Response. As a result of the changes concerning wheelchair access, the exception applies only to the specified keypad height and allows a height below 34 inches where seats are provided at telephones with TTYs. In the final rule, the Board has broadened this exception to apply to all telephones with seats in any type of facility.

Comment. The requirements for TTYs do not address the height of display screens.

Due to the typical character size displayed, users must be in close proximity to the screen. The Board requested information on TTY screen heights that are appropriate for people who use wheelchairs and for standing persons and whether the requirement for ATM display screens is appropriate for TTYs as well (Question 29). Little information was received in response to this question. Respondents to this question reiterated their concern about wheelchair access resulting in TTYs that are too low for persons who are standing. Other commenters recommended that research be conducted to develop information on the appropriate height of display screens.

Response. The Board has not included any specifications concerning the height of TTY display screens in the final rule.

705 Detectable Warnings

Section 705 provides the technical specifications for detectable warnings, a distinctively textured surface of truncated domes identifiable by cane and underfoot. This surfacing is required along the edge of boarding platforms in transit stations. The original ADAAG included a requirement for detectable warnings on the surface of curb ramps to provide a tactile cue for persons with vision impairments of the boundary between sidewalks and streets where the curb face had been removed. It also required them at locations where pedestrian areas blend with vehicular areas without tactile cues, such as curbs or railings, and at reflecting pools. Certain requirements for detectable warnings were temporarily suspended in the original ADAAG and were not included in the proposed rule, as further discussed in section 406 above. Consequently, the requirements in section 705 are required only at boarding platforms in transportation facilities (810.5.2). Revisions made in the final rule include:

  • revising specifications for the diameter and spacing of truncated domes to allow a range (705.1.1 and 705.1.2)
  • clarifying the square grid pattern of truncated domes (705.1.2)
  • simplifying requirements for contrast between detectable warnings and adjoining walking surfaces (705.1.3)
  • removing provisions generally recognizing alternatives to the detectable warnings specified
  • clarifying the application of the requirements to the edges of boarding platforms (705.2)

The detectable warning criteria specify a pattern of evenly-spaced truncated domes. The Board has added clarification, consistent with provided figures, that the domes be aligned in a square grid pattern (705.1).

Comment. The proposed rule specified that the truncated domes have a diameter of 0.9 inch, measured at the base. A commenter cited research conducted in Japan which indicated that a surface very similar to that specified by section 705 ranked high in detectability. It was recommended, based on this research, that a diameter of 0.4 inch to 0.9 inch be specified for domes, measured at the top. In addition, this commenter recommended that the spacing between domes be revised from an absolute of 2.35 inches to a range of 1.6 to 2.35 inches.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has revised the specification for the diameter and spacing of truncated domes to permit a range of dimensions (705.1.1). A range of 0.9 inch to 1.4 inches is specified for the base diameter. The top diameter range is specified to be 50% to 65% of the base diameter, which approximates the recommended 0.4 inch to 0.9 inch range. The center-to-center spacing of domes has been changed from 2.35 inches absolute, to a range of 1.6 inches minimum to 2.4 inches maximum, with a minimum separation measured at the base of 0.65 inch (705.1.2). The revised base diameter and spacing dimensions will accommodate existing detectable warning products that were previously deemed to provide an equivalent level of accessibility. ADAAG permits departures that provide equal or greater access as an "equivalent facilitation." The Department of Transportation (DOT), which enforces the ADA’s design requirements as they apply to various transportation facilities, reviews requested departures based on equivalent facilitation in consultation with the Board. Over the years, DOT has approved various detectable warning products that differ slightly from the ADAAG specifications. The specifications in the final rule derive from a review of these products and will encompass the variations among products previously approved by DOT under the equivalent facilitation clause.

Detectable warnings are required to contrast visually from adjacent walking surfaces, either light-on-dark or dark-on-light. The proposed rule required the material used to provide contrast be an integral part of the truncated dome surface (705.2.2). This specification was intended to preclude the painting of detectable warning surfaces to meet the contrast requirements since painted surfaces would not be adequately slip resistant. However, requirements for ground and floor surfaces in section 302, which require slip resistance, apply to those surfaces with detectable warnings as well. The Board believes that the requirement for slip resistance in section 302 effectively prevents the painting of detectable warning surfaces. Consequently, it has removed the specification that the material used to provide contrast be an integral part of the detectable warning surface.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that detectable warnings in interior locations differ from adjoining walking surfaces in resiliency or sound-on-cane contact (705.2.3). Commenters considered this provision to be of questionable usefulness and difficult to meet absent a recognized method of measuring resiliency or sound-on-cane contact.

Response. The requirement for contrast in resiliency or sound-on-cane contact between detectable warnings and adjoining walking surfaces in interior locations has been removed in the final rule.

Comment. The proposed rule included provisions that generally recognized alternative tactile surfaces equally detectable underfoot or other designs or technologies that provide equal or superior drop-off warning at boarding platforms (705.3 and 705.4). Commenters opposed these provisions without further guidance or specificity on the type of alternatives that would be acceptable. Some commenters recommended that these provisions were unnecessary in view of the general provision for equivalent facilitation in section 103 permitting departures from this or any other requirement in the guidelines where equal or greater access is provided.

Response. The Board has removed the provisions concerning equivalent products and technologies as an alternative to the detectable warnings specified by section 705. This change is consistent with the effort the Board made in the proposed rule to remove specific provisions concerning equivalent facilitation. The general provision for equivalent facilitation remains the basis upon which alternatives to the specified detectable warnings may be pursued. DOT’s ADA regulations provide a process for the review of requested departures as an equivalent facilitation in relation to public transportation facilities.24

Section 705.2 specifies that detectable warnings along boarding platform edges be 24 inches wide. In the final rule, the Board has added clarification that the detectable warning is to extend the full length of the public use areas of platforms.

706 Assistive Listening Systems

Section 706 provides specifications for assistive listening systems. Assistive listening systems pick up sound at or close to its source and deliver it to the listener’s ear. This more direct transmission improves sound quality by reducing the effects of background noise and reverberation and, as needed, increasing the volume. These devices serve people who are hard of hearing, including those who use hearing aids. Assistive listening systems are generally categorized by their mode of transmission. Acceptable types of assistive listening systems include induction loops, infrared systems, FM radio frequency systems, hard-wired earphones, and other equivalent devices. A definition for "assistive listening systems" has been included in the final rule (section 106). Provisions address receiver jacks (706.2), compatibility with hearing aids (706.3), and system quality and capability (706.4 through 706.6).

Comment. Receivers are required to have a c inch standard mono jack so that users can use their own cabling as necessary. The proposed rule allowed other types of jacks where compliant adapters were provided (706.3). Comments strongly supported the requirement for the c inch mono jack. Some commenters noted that this type of jack should be provided in all cases and that alternative types should not be allowed to avoid issues such as who is responsible for the provision of adapters.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has specified that receivers include a c inch (3.5 mm) standard mono jack and has removed language concerning other jack types and adapters (706.2).

Section 706.3 specifies that receivers required to be compatible with hearing aids (25%) must be neck loops since this type interfaces with hearing aid T-coils. Many comments supported this provision and no changes to it have been made in the final rule.

The performance of assistive listening systems is a concern among users. The

quality and capability of systems largely determine the quality of sound transmission. Sound quality, internal noise, signal-to-noise ratio, signal strength, and boost vary among products. As a result, some systems do not adequately meet the needs of people who are hard of hearing. For example, the boost of some products may amplify sound adequately for people with mild hearing loss but not for those with profound hearing loss.

In the belief that standards should be developed to provide guidance in selecting products of sufficient quality and capability, the Board funded a study on assistive listening systems that was completed in 1999. Conducted by the Lexington Center, this project included collecting information on assistive listening systems, a review of the state-of-the-art with respect to assistive listening systems, and a survey of consumers, service providers, dispensers and manufacturers to determine how effective assistive listening systems are at present and what the major problems, limitations, and complaints are regarding existing systems. With this information, the researchers developed objective means for specifying the overall characteristics of any assistive listening system, from sound source to listener’s ear, to be able to predict how well the system will work in practice and to determine objective criteria for establishing guidelines or recommendations for the use of assistive listening systems in public places. The criteria recommended by this research include:

  • a signal-to-noise ratio of at least 18 decibels measured at the earphones
  • the capability of receivers to deliver a signal with a sound pressure level of at least 110 decibels and no more than 118 decibels with a dynamic range on the volume control of 50 decibels
  • peak clipping levels at or below 18 decibels down from the peak level of the signal

Comment. The Board sought comment on whether the criteria developed through the Lexington Center research should be included in the final rule (Question 30). Commenters overwhelmingly supported the inclusion of specifications for the performance and sound quality of assistive listening systems.

Response. The Board has included performance criteria for assistive listening systems based on the Lexington Center research that address the sound pressure level (706.4), signal-to-noise ratio (706.5), and peak clipping level (706.6).

A report from the Lexington Center on this research, "Large Area Assistive Listening Systems: Review and Recommendations," is available from the Board and its website at www.access-board.gov. Additional resources stemming from the project, including a series of technical bulletins on assistive listening systems, are also available.

707 Automatic Teller Machines and Fare Machines

Section 707 provides specifications for Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and fare machines. Requirements address clear floor or ground space (707.2), operable parts (707.3), privacy (707.4), speech output (707.5), input (707.6), display screens (707.7), and braille instructions (707.8). In the final rule, this section has been significantly reorganized and criteria for output and input substantially revised due to comments submitted by persons with disabilities, various disability groups, ATM manufacturers, banking institutions and trade associations, and others.

Comment. Comments from the banking industry opposed the specific criteria proposed for ATMs in favor of a more flexible performance standard. Conversely, many comments from persons with vision impairments supported the proposed specifications or urged the Board to make them more stringent.

Response. The original ADAAG relied on a performance criterion in specifying access to ATMs for people with vision impairments: "instructions and all information for use shall be made accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments" (4.34.5). Based on the level of access provided at ATMs under the original ADAAG, it is the Board’s belief, consistent with the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee’s recommendations, that a descriptive set of technical criteria is essential to ensure that ATMs are adequately accessible to, and usable by, persons with vision impairments. The Board has taken into consideration concerns raised by industry concerning various specifications, as well as information on improved technological solutions, in finalizing these criteria. A number of revisions have been made to the ATM requirements which are detailed below.

Comment. Section 707 specifically covers ATMs and fare machines. In the proposed rule, the Board sought comment on whether this section should be extended to cover other types of interactive transaction machines (ITMs), such as point-of-sale machines and information kiosks, among others (Question 31). Information was requested on any possible design conflicts between the requirements of this section and any specific types of interactive transaction machines. Comments from disability groups and individuals with disabilities generally supported coverage of ITMs and point-of-sale machines. Most industry commenters opposed such an expansion since, in their opinion, such devices differ in structure and use from ATMs. Comments noted that computers used in point-of-sale machines rarely have the capacity for added functions, especially for speech. Commenters were particularly concerned that manufacturers, installers, and property owners would be held responsible for the content of web-based dynamic information. Several suggested that unlike ATMs, which are considered primarily single-purpose devices, information kiosks are multi-purpose devices that cannot produce audio files anticipating the content of the video display.

Response. The Board has elected not to broaden the scope of the rule to address all types of interactive transaction machines at this time. However, the Board has issued standards covering various types of electronic and information technology purchased by the Federal government under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. These standards encompass various types of interactive transaction machines that are procured by the Federal government. The Board intends to monitor the application of the performance-based section 508 standards to ITMs in the Federal sector for its consideration in future updates of these guidelines.

Revisions made to this section include:

  • revising exceptions for drive-up ATMs to also cover drive-up fare machines (707.2, 707.3, and 707.7)
  • modifying specifications for operable parts (707.3)
  • limiting privacy requirements to ATMs (707.4)
  • revamping and clarifying speech output capabilities and specifications (707.5)
  • modifying specifications for input controls (707.6)
  • adding a requirement for braille instructions (707.8)

Sections 707.2 and 707.3 address clear floor or ground space requirements and operable parts, respectively. These provisions include exceptions for drive-up only ATMs. In the final rule, the Board revised these exceptions to cover fare machines as well.

Comment. The proposed rule specified that operable parts be able to be differentiated by sound or touch without activation (707.3). Comments from industry noted that it would be difficult to achieve this requirement in the design of controls activated by touch. Some commenters advised that compliance would be more feasible if the provision recognized an allowable level of force that could be applied without the control being activated. Since many ATMs and fare machines allow users to cancel operations, including when a control is inadvertently activated, commenters questioned the need for this provision.

Response. The Board agrees that keys which enable users to readily clear or correct input errors obviate the need for controls that can be differentiated by sound or touch without activation. In the final rule, the Board has revised the requirement to apply only at ATMs and fare machines that are not equipped with "clear" or "correct" keys.

Section 707.4 ensures an equivalent level of privacy in the use of ATMs for all individuals, including those who use a machine’s accessible features. In the final rule, this requirement has been made specific to ATMs, since privacy is generally of less concern in the use of fare machines.

Section 707.5 provides requirements for speech output of ATMs and fare machines.

Comment. ATM manufacturers and the banking industry opposed the specific criteria for audible output in the proposed rule (707.5) and urged the Board to replace them with more flexible performance requirements that would focus on the desired outcome instead of detailing how and to what extent access was to be achieved. Comments from disability groups strongly supported the approach taken in the proposed rule. Some of these comments requested that the specifications cover the full range of machines used and types of output. For example, some pointed out that certain types of information, such as error messages, are often overlooked in the provision of audible output.

Response. The Board has revised the requirements for audible output to emphasize the minimum performance capabilities necessary for access. This will allow room for technological innovations and improvements in providing access solutions, particularly with respect to audible output. On the other hand, the Board has also retained or added specific criterion so that a minimum level of accessibility is clearly established to avoid confusion or misinterpretation. The final rule clearly requires machines to be speech enabled, as opposed to the proposed rule’s call for "audible instructions." As revised, it requires that "all displayed information for full use shall be accessible to and independently usable by individuals with vision impairments." The specification lists particular types of output, such as operating instructions and orientation, visible transaction prompts, user input verification, and error messages. However, the over-arching performance criterion governs, as the list of particulars is not exhaustive. Consistent with the proposed rule, the speech output must be delivered through devices readily available to all users, such as a telephone handset or an industry standard connector (e.g., an audio mini jack to accommodate a user’s audio receiver).

Comment. The Board sought information on the availability of ATMs that meet the audible output requirements of the proposed rule and any impact, including costs and technological difficulties, in developing new products that would comply (Question 35). Information was also requested on the practice of redeploying ATM equipment and the impact of the output requirements on this practice. Industry commenters expressed strong concerns about the cost and feasibility of providing speech output for new and refurbished machines. Industry commenters claimed that voice output would be burdensome by necessitating both hardware and significant software investments, including on-going maintenance to support changes in the services offered by the institution. Analysis of industry comments reveals an underlying concern that manufacturers, property owners, installers, and networks must coordinate to provide anything more than limited voice output. According to these comments, such coordination is not customary in the U.S. The banking industry expressed particular concern about the application of the guidelines to ATMs that are refurbished and redeployed. According to the industry, there is a large market for used ATMs, which have an average life of 10 years, though some can last up to 20 years; as new machines are installed in existing locations, those replaced are commonly redeployed elsewhere. Since the specifications apply not only to new ATMs, but to altered machines as well, commenters expressed concern about the cost and feasibility of retrofitting existing machines as part of their relocation. On the other hand, comments from disability groups indicated that satisfactory voice output is not only feasible but is actually being accomplished by various banking institutions, including through the retrofit of existing machines.

Response. Many of the comments submitted by industry concerning the cost and impact of the requirements for audible output appeared based on the provision of recorded human speech. However, the Board intended other alternatives, which are considerably less expensive, such as digitized human speech and synthesized speech. Clarification of these permitted types of output are included in the final rule (707.5). New technologies for text-to-speech synthesis are becoming available that offer less expensive solutions in equipping machines with speech output. Such technologies, which can be installed through software or hardware enhancements, can generate all of the information required to be accessible in audible output. In the past year, the Board has become aware of various banks in different areas of the country that have provided new talking ATMs that take advantage of improved speech output technologies. With respect to refurbished machines, the requirements of these guidelines as they apply to altered elements permit departures where compliance is not technically feasible; in such cases, compliance is required to the maximum extent feasible (202.3, Exception 2). Some industry commenters expressed concern about the proposed requirements and existing machines, including those that are not altered. However, the scope of these guidelines, consistent with the Board’s mandate, extends only to new construction and planned alterations and additions. The Board does not generally have jurisdiction over requirements for existing facilities that are otherwise not being altered. Under the ADA, regulations issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) effectively govern requirements that apply to existing places of public accommodation. How, and to what extent, the Board’s guidelines are used for purposes of retrofit, including removal of barriers and provision of program access, is wholly within the purview of DOJ. It is the Board’s understanding that DOJ is aware of the concern as raised by various commenters generally and that DOJ plans to address these concerns in its rulemaking to revise its ADA standards pursuant to the Board’s final rule.

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board requested comment on whether ATM manufacturers or banks intend to provide audio output receivers for customers who need them to access audible output and whether customers needing such output could reasonably be expected to provide their own receivers (Question 34). Few comments addressed this question. Several individuals with vision impairments indicated that they carry headphones for talking book players and other audio devices.

Response. The Board has not included any requirements concerning the provision of audio output receivers.

Comment. The proposed rule included an advisory note indicating that audible tones can be used instead of speech for personal input that is not displayed visually for security purposes, such as personal identification numbers (707.5.3). Comments from industry supported this clarification but noted that it would be more appropriately located within the text.

Response. The Board agrees that the advisory note actually functioned as an exception to the requirement for speech output and has added it to the text in the final rule (707.5, Exception 1).

Comment. Comments from persons with disabilities requested that all visually displayed information, including advertisements, should be covered by the requirement for speech output.

Response. The Board disagrees with coverage of extraneous information not needed in the conduct of all available transactions. In the final rule, an exception has been added which notes that advertisements and similar information are not required to be audible unless they convey information that can be used in the transaction being conducted (707.5, Exception 2). This exception helps further clarify the scope of the general performance requirement of 707.5 by describing the type of information that is not covered.

Comment. Comments from industry pointed out that compliance will be difficult and extremely costly, if not impossible, for certain types of machines that cannot support speech synthesis. Some machines cannot "read" or "pronounce" dynamic alphabetic text. Dynamic alphabetic text includes words that cannot be known in advance by the machine or its host. Audible dynamic text requires either pre-recorded files or a text-to-speech synthesizer to convert electronic text into speech using pre-programmed pronunciation rules.

Response. Because it would be impossible to pre-record files to anticipate all the possible dynamic alphabetic combinations in the English language, speech synthesis is the only practicable solution for producing dynamic alphabetic audible output. The Board has added an exception for machines that cannot support speech synthesis. Under this exception, dynamic alphabetic output is not required to be audible (707.5, Exception 3).

Comment. Persons with vision impairments and disability groups indicated that "repeat" and "interrupt" functions greatly facilitate use of speech output. Such commenters also stated that volume control is an important feature in accommodating the full range of users. Industry commenters pointed out that interruption of speech output is critical because such output, even when not accessed through a handset or earphones, is continuously running and will otherwise lengthen the time of all operations and transactions.

Response. The Board has added a provision that machines allow users to repeat or interrupt speech output (707.5.1). An exception allows speech output for any single function to be automatically interrupted once a transaction is selected. This specification replaces a requirement in the proposed rule that users be able to expedite transactions (707.5.4.2). In addition, the Board has included a requirement for a volume control.

Comment. The proposed rule contained a requirement that ATMs dispense paper currency in descending order with the lowest denomination on top (707.5.7). Comments from the banking industry noted that while this requirement is feasible, the denominations of currency dispensed varies depending on which bills are still available in a machine before it is re-supplied.

Response. The Board has removed the requirement for bills to be dispensed in descending order since the order of dispensation will not ensure that users will be able to identify each bill’s denomination.

Comment. The proposed rule required that machines have the capability to provide information on receipts in an audible format as well (707.5.8). Some comments from individuals with vision impairments urged the Board to revise this requirement to clearly apply to all data contained on a receipt. Industry representatives, however, advised that the requirement should apply only to essential information concerning a transaction. These comments noted that some information that may not be of interest or use to customers is nevertheless required to appear on printed receipts under Federal mandates. In addition, the banking industry indicated that some ATMs have the capability to provide copies of records, such as bank statements, which should not be subject to the speech output requirements.

Response. The Board has revised the requirement for receipt information to more clearly distinguish the type of information required to be provided through speech output and the type that is not. The final rule requires that speech output devices provide all information on printed receipts, where provided, necessary to complete or verify a transaction, including balance inquiry information and error messages (707.5.2). Extraneous information that may be provided on receipts, such as the machine location and identifier, the date and time, and account numbers is not required to be provided through speech output (Exception 1). In addition, the Board has also exempted receipt information that duplicates audible information on-screen (Exception 2) and printed materials that are not actual receipts, such as copies of bank statements and checks (Exception 3).

Section 707.6 covers input controls, including numeric and function keys.

Comment. The proposed rule required all keys used to operate a machine to be tactually discernable (707.4.2). It included specifications for key surfaces to be raised 1/25 inch minimum and that outer edges have a radius of 1/50 inch maximum (707.4.2). It also required a minimum separation between keys of c inch and specified a distance between function and numeric keys based on the distance between numeric keys (707.4.3). Comments from industry pointed to these provisions as unduly restrictive and raised questions about supporting data for the specified dimensions. These commenters urged a performance-based requirement as more appropriate.

Response. The Board has revised the final rule to require at least one input control for each function (as opposed to "all keys") to be tactually discernable (707.6.1). Key surfaces are required to be raised from surrounding surfaces, but the proposed 1/25 inch minimum has been removed. In addition, the Board has also added a requirement specific to membrane keys. Such keys must also be tactually discernable from surrounding surfaces and other keys where they are the only method of input provided.

Comment. Comments from persons with disabilities called attention to the importance of access to touch screens at fare machines and ATM machines. The proposed rule provided an exception for the touch screens of video display screens (707.4.2, Exception). This exception was meant to apply only to that method of input, since the Board intended that alternative method of input that is tactually discernable would be provided in addition to the touch screen. Commenters misread this exception as completely exempting touch screens from providing tactually discernable controls.

Response. The Board has removed the exception for touch screens in the proposed rule to avoid misinterpretation of its intent. Instead, the Board has revised the requirement for tactually discernable input controls as applying to those key surfaces that are not on active areas of display screens (707.6.1). All machines with touch screens must have tactually discernable input controls as an additional alternative to those activated by touching the screen.

Comment. The proposed rule specified the arrangement of numeric keys according to the standard 12-key telephone keypad layout, which provides numbers in ascending order (707.4.4). The ATM and banking industries indicated that numbers may be arranged in descending order, similar to the arrangement of numeric keys on standard computer keyboards as required by other national standards, such as those issued in Canada. Since ATM manufacturers operate internationally, consistency with other national standards is a key industry concern.

Response. The final rule requires numeric keys to be arranged in an ascending or descending telephone keypad layout (707.6.2). The number five key is required to be tactually distinct from the other keys (a raised dot is commonly used).

Comment. The proposed rule required function keys to be arranged in a specific order and specified particular tactile symbols and colors for standard keys (707.4.5). Comments from industry opposed the mandate for a particular key arrangement which it considered impractical due to various factors that influence the design and layout of function keys. Further, these commenters questioned the need for such a requirement in view of provisions concerning the tactile labels of keys and audible operating instructions and orientation. In addition, comments noted that the tactile symbol assigned to "clear" or "correct" keys (vertical line or bar) was inconsistent with the symbol specified by Canadian standards (raised left arrow).

Response. The Board has removed the requirement for function keys to be arranged in a particular horizontal or vertical order, which it considers unnecessary since such keys are to be labeled by standardized tactile symbols. This revision permits manufacturers flexibility in the design of function key layouts. In addition, the Board has changed the required symbol for "clear" or "correct" keys to a raised left arrow for consistency with Canadian standards (707.6.3.2).

Comment. The Board specified colors for standard function keys in the proposed rule and sought comment on the appropriateness of this specification, particularly for people who are color blind (Question 32). Few comments addressed this question. Instead most commenters pointed out that the specified colors did not correlate with standards used in Canada.

Response. Since many ATM manufacturers operate internationally, the Board has elected to withdraw its color specification for function keys to avoid conflict with other existing national standards.

Comment. ATMs often reject input when maximum time intervals are exceeded. Users are at risk of having the ATM card withheld and may encounter additional transaction charges due to repeated attempts to access the machine. The Board sought comment on whether it should include a specific requirement that would allow users to extend the maximum time intervals between transactions beyond the amount of time typically allotted (Question 33). Commenters from the banking industry and ATM manufacturers noted that ATMs include standard features that ask if users want more time to conduct transactions. The requirements for speech output will ensure that such questions are accessible to users with vision impairments.

Response. The Board has not included a requirement for extending transaction time intervals in view of industry practice.

Section 707.7 addresses visual display screens and provides specifications for the screen height and the legibility of visual characters. An exception is provided for drive-up ATMs, which the Board modified in the final rule to also cover drive-up fare machines (707.7, Exception). Few comments addressed these provisions and no further substantive changes have been made.

Comment. Persons with vision impairments requested the inclusion of a specific requirement for braille instructions. While braille instructions for full use of the machine are not necessary in view of the speech output requirements, these comments noted that instructions indicating how the speech mode is activated are needed in tactile form. For example, some machines may provide a jack through which users can access speech output by connecting personal earphones or other types of audio receivers. Without braille instructions, users may not readily determine the method for accessing speech output, which otherwise would only be tactually indicated by the jack itself.

Response. The Board has included a requirement for braille instructions on initiating the speech mode (707.8).

708 Two-Way Communication Systems

This section provides criteria for two-way communication systems where they are

provided to gain admittance to a facility or to restricted areas within a facility. These systems must provide audible and visual signals so that they are accessible to people with vision or hearing impairments. As part of the integration of requirements for residential dwelling units from a separate chapter, provisions specific to communication systems in such facilities have been relocated to this section (708.4). No further changes have been made to section 708.

One of the technical provisions requires that handsets, where provided, have cords long enough (at least 29 inches) to accommodate people using wheelchairs (708.3). The proposed guidelines included an exception from this requirement for communication systems located at inaccessible entrances. The Board has removed this exception in the final rule, consistent with the new ANSI A117.1 standard. This action was taken in view of situations where an entrance may be inaccessible, but a two-way communication serving it is on an accessible route. In such cases, the availability of a two-way communication system may be of particular benefit to people unable to access an entrance.

Captioning

ADAAG and the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations do not require captioning of movies for persons who are deaf. However, various technologies have been developed to provide open or closed captioning for movie theaters. One closed caption method for making movies accessible is a system that synchronizes captions and action by projecting reverse text images onto a wall behind an audience. The reverse text is then reflected by transparent screens at individual seats where movie goers can read the script on the screen and view the movie through the screen simultaneously. This type of auxiliary aid and others may require built-in features to make them usable. 

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board requested information on other types of captioning as it relates to the built environment and preferences among users (Question 36). Specifically, the Board sought information regarding the technical provisions that would be necessary to include in ADAAG to facilitate or augment the use of auxiliary aids such as captioning and videotext displays. Most comments from people with disabilities and disability organizations supported a requirement for captioning. However, most of these commenters stated a strong preference for open captioning over closed captioning because it provides easier viewing and seating flexibility. Some commenters expressed concerns about the reliability or convenience of particular closed captioning systems. Comments from the movie theater industry pointed out that the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations issued under title III state that movie theaters are not required to present open captioned films, but are encouraged to voluntarily provide closed captioning.25

Response. In the final rule, the Board has not included a requirement for built-in features that can help support the provision of captioning technologies.

Convenience Food Restaurants

Convenience food restaurants, otherwise known as fast food restaurants, often provide people with the opportunity to order food from a drive-through facility. These facilities usually require voice intercommunication. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has required restaurants to accept orders at pick-up windows when the communications system is not accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Comment. The Board requested comment on whether accessible communication should be required at drive-through facilities (Question 37). Few comments addressed this question. Disability groups representing people who are deaf supported a requirement to ensure an equivalent level of access. Comments from the restaurant industry opposed such a requirement in favor of the approach taken by DOJ. Industry comments expressed concern about a mandated design solution’s potential cost and the impact on drive-through communication devices.

Response. The Board believes that further information needs to be developed on the technologies available to provide access for persons who are deaf to communication devices at drive-through facilities before specifying a requirement in these guidelines. A requirement for such access has not been included in the final rule.

Chapter 8: Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements

Chapter 8 covers various types of elements, rooms and spaces, including assembly areas (802), dressing, fitting, and locker rooms (803), kitchens and kitchenettes (804), medical care and long-term care facilities (805), transient lodging guest rooms (806), holding and housing cells in detention and correctional facilities (807), courtrooms (808), residential dwelling units (809), transportation facilities (810), and storage (811). In the final rule, requirements from other chapters have been relocated to this chapter. These include requirements for:

  • courtrooms at 808 (relocated from 232)
  • residential dwelling units at 809 (relocated from Chapter 11)
  • transportation facilities at 810 (relocated from Chapter 10)
  • storage at 811(relocated from 905)

Substantive changes to these sections are discussed below.

802 Wheelchair Spaces, Companion Seats, and Designated Aisle Seats

Section 802 provides requirements for wheelchair spaces, companion seats, and designated aisle seats in assembly areas. Requirements have been reorganized and renumbered. Substantive changes include:

  • revision of requirements for the approach to, and overlap of, wheelchair spaces (802.1.4 and 802.1.5)
  • clarification of lines of sight specifications for wheelchair spaces (802.2)
  • new requirements for companion seats (802.3)
  • revision of criteria for designated aisles seats (802.4)

Comment. Wheelchair spaces may be placed side-by-side, as reflected in specifications for width that are specific to adjoining spaces. The proposed rule specified that the approach to a wheelchair space could pass through one adjoining wheelchair space, but not others (802.5). This was done to limit the inconvenience to those occupying wheelchair spaces who would otherwise have to move, possibly from the space or row entirely, to accommodate others traveling to and from other wheelchair spaces in the same row. Comments from persons with disabilities urged that the rule be modified to prohibit travel through any wheelchair space.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has modified specifications for the approach to wheelchair spaces so that travel through any wheelchair space is not required in accessing a wheelchair space (802.1.4). As a result, accessible routes cannot overlap wheelchair spaces.

Comment. The Board sought comment on whether it should clearly prohibit circulation paths (not just accessible routes) from overlapping wheelchair spaces (Question 38). Persons with disabilities overwhelmingly supported such a change to ensure that people using wheelchair spaces do not have to shift or move out of the way of other pedestrian traffic while occupying spaces. Comments from industry noted that such a requirement would increase space requirements at wheelchair seating areas.

Response. The Board agrees with the majority of comments that persons using wheelchair spaces should not have to contend with overlapping pedestrian traffic. Nor should occupied spaces obstruct circulation paths, particularly means of egress. A requirement that wheelchair spaces not overlap circulation paths is included in the final rule (802.1.5). This requirement is intended to apply only to the circulation path width required by applicable building and fire codes and helps ensure consistency between accessibility and life safety criteria. Such codes generally do not permit wheelchair spaces to block the required width of a circulation path. In various situations, the new requirement is expected to have modest impacts. For example, where a main circulation path located in front of a seating row with a wheelchair space is wider than required by applicable building and fire codes, the wheelchair space may overlap the portion of the path width provided in excess of code requirements. Where a main circulation path is located behind a seating row with a wheelchair space that is entered from the back, the aisle in front of the row may need be to be wider in order not to block the required circulation path to the other seats in the row, or a mid-row opening may need to be provided to access the required circulation path to the other seats.

In the proposed rule, the Board posed several questions concerning the requirements for the dispersion of wheelchair spaces (which were located in section 802.6). These requirements have been revised and relocated to the scoping section for wheelchair spaces at section 221. As discussed above, the Board has clarified the intent of the proposed rule in calling for a choice in viewing angles comparable to that provided other spectators. In addition, the Board removed a criterion for dispersion based on a comparable choice in admission prices. In the final rule, it is required that wheelchair spaces be dispersed so that persons using them have "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). Like the proposed rule, specifications are provided for horizontal (side to side) and vertical (front to back) dispersion. Wheelchair spaces must be located at "varying distances from the screen, performance area, or playing field" to achieve effective vertical dispersion. Exceptions from the requirements for horizontal and vertical dispersion requirements are provided for assembly areas with 300 seats or fewer.

Section 802.2 covers lines of sight to the screen, performance area, or playing field for persons using wheelchair spaces. These technical provisions address sight lines over seated and standing spectators. The Board has revised these requirements (located in section 802.9 in the proposed rule). In the proposed rule, it was specified that wheelchair space sight lines be "comparable" to those provided "in the seating area in closest proximity to the location of the wheelchair spaces, but not in the same row." In venues where people are expected to stand at their seats during events, wheelchair spaces were to be located so that users have lines of sight over standing spectators comparable to those provided others in nearby seats not in the same row.

Comment. The proposed rule required that wheelchair spaces offer lines of sight "comparable" to those provided other spectators (802.9). Corresponding elevation drawings (Figures 802.9.1 and 802.9.2) illustrated lines of sight over the head of persons in the preceding row. Designers of assembly facilities expressed concern that these requirements, as illustrated, might be read to require this kind of sight line in all cases. However, a conventional practice is to design seating so that lines of sight are provided between, not over, the heads of persons in the preceding row through staggered seating. Generally, where the sight line is between the heads in the row immediately in front, it is also over the head of the second row. According to these commenters, comparable access at wheelchair seating should be based on the type of sight line (over heads or between heads) provided at inaccessible seats.

Response. The final rule has been modified to clarify what constitutes comparable lines of sight over seated spectators (802.2.1) and standing spectators (802.2.2). Specifically, the revised specifications distinguish between sight lines provided over and between heads of spectators in the row ahead. Where lines of sight over the heads of spectators in the first row in front is provided, then those occupying wheelchair spaces must also be provided lines of sight over the heads of spectators in the first row in front of the spaces (802.2.1.1). A similar requirement for equivalency is specified where sight lines are provided over the shoulders and between the heads of spectators in the first row in front (802.2.1.2). Parallel provisions are provided for assembly areas where spectators are expected to stand during events (802.2.2.1 and 802.2.2.2).

Section 802.3 addresses companion seats, which are required to be paired with wheelchair spaces (221.3). In the final rule, the Board has clarified that companion seats are to be located to provide shoulder alignment with adjacent wheelchair spaces (802.3.1). Consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard, the provision in the final rule specifies that shoulder alignment is to be measured 36 inches from the front of the wheelchair space and that the floor surface of companion seats is to be at the same elevation as that of wheelchair spaces. In the proposed rule (802.7), companion seats were required to be "readily removable." As discussed above in section 221, the final rule allows, but does not require, companion seats to be removable (802.3.2). In addition, the Board has added a requirement that companion seats be "equivalent in quality, size, and comfort and amenities" to seating in the immediate area (802.3.2). Amenities include, but are not limited to, cup holders, arm rests, and storage pockets.

Section 802.4 provides technical criteria for designated aisle seats. These seats are intended to provide access for people with disabilities who do not need or prefer wheelchair spaces.

Comment. The proposed rule required that such seats have removable or folding armrests or no armrests on the aisle side. Comments noted that this should apply only where armrests are provided on seats in the same area. Comments from persons with disabilities felt that armrests should be required at designated aisle seats if other seats have armrests. Facility operators noted that it is not practical to provide removable armrests because they become misplaced, lost, or stolen over time.

Response. Requirements for armrests have been revised to apply only where armrests are provided on seating in the immediate area. Armrests on the aisle side of the seat are required to be folding or retractable. Complying armrests are not required where no armrests are provided on seats.

803 Dressing, Fitting, and Locker Rooms

Requirements for dressing rooms, fitting rooms, and locker rooms are contained in section 803.

Comment. Section 803.2 requires wheelchair turning space in accessible rooms. In the proposed rule, an exception to this provision noted that a portion of this space (6 inches maximum) could extend under partitions or openings without doors that provide toe clearance at least 9 inches high. Many comments opposed this exception since, as written, it would allow a 6 inch portion of the 5 foot turning space on both sides to be located beyond two side partitions, possibly resulting in dressing or fitting rooms that are only 4 feet wide.

Response. This exception concerning wheelchair turning space has been removed in the final rule (803.2). Requirements for wheelchair turning space in section 304 specify dimensions and recognize knee and toe space. However, permitted overlaps are limited. For example, an object with knee and toe clearance can overlap only one arm or the base of T-shaped turning space (304.3.2).

The proposed rule prohibited doors from swinging into the turning space (803.3). In the final rule, the Board has revised this requirement for consistency with the ANSI A117.1 standard. As revised, this provision permits doors to swing into the room where wheelchair space beyond the arc of the door swing is provided. This specification is consistent with provisions for single-user toilet rooms and bathrooms (603.2.3, Exception 2).

804 Kitchens and Kitchenettes

Requirements in section 804 apply to kitchens and kitchenettes, including those provided in transient lodging guest rooms and residential dwelling units. They also apply to spaces, such as employee break rooms, located in other facility types. In the final rule, requirements specific to kitchens in residential dwelling units have been folded into this section as part of the integration of the chapter on residential dwelling units (Chapter 11) into the rest of the document. Certain requirements intended only for dwelling unit kitchens have been modified accordingly. For example, requirements for clearances in pass through and U-shaped kitchens apply only to kitchens with cooktops or conventional ranges (804.2), and specified kitchen work surfaces are required only in kitchens in residential dwelling units (804.3). This reorganization does not substantively change the requirements of section 804 as they apply to kitchens not located in residential dwelling units. These include requirements for sinks (804.4), storage (804.5), and appliances (804.6).

Substantive changes apply primarily to requirements for dwelling unit kitchens. These revisions concern:

  • clearances in pass through kitchens (804.2.1)
  • storage (804.5)
  • operable parts of appliances (804.6.2)
  • oven controls (804.6.5)

Clearances for pass through kitchens address counters, appliances, or cabinets on two opposing sides. In the final rule, this provision has been revised to more clearly address situations where counters, appliances, or cabinets are opposite a parallel wall. In addition, the Board has changed references to "galley kitchens" with "pass through kitchens" for clarity.

At least 50% of shelf space in storage facilities is required to be accessible (804.5). This is consistent with the proposed rule with respect to kitchens generally, but differs from proposed specifications for dwelling unit kitchens, which only addressed clear floor space at cabinets (1102.12.5). The final rule clarifies access requirements for storage in dwelling unit kitchens that is consistent with specifications for other types of kitchens.

Requirements for appliances include provisions for operable parts (804.6.2), which are required to be accessible according to section 309. Section 309 includes specifications for clear floor space (309.2), height (309.3), and operating characteristics (309.4). The proposed rule contained an exception for controls mounted on range hoods. This provision has been replaced by an exception to general scoping provisions for operable parts that addresses redundant controls (205.1, Exception 6). In the addition, the Board has added exceptions for appliance doors and door latching devices in section 804.6.2.

Comment. Operable parts must be designed so they can be operated with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching, twisting of the wrist, or more than 5 pounds of force (309.4). Appliance manufacturers called attention to various appliances that cannot be easily redesigned to meet the maximum 5 pounds of force. At refrigerator and freezer doors, a tight seal is necessary for energy efficiency, as required by other Federal laws, which may result in an opening force that exceeds 5 pounds of force. The latch used to secure dishwasher doors and create a water-tight seal also typically requires a force that may exceed 5 pounds which would be difficult and costly to reduce.

Response. The final rule provides an exception under which appliance doors and their latching devices are not required to comply with the specified operating characteristics for operable parts in section 309.4, including the maximum pounds of force for operation (804.6.2, Exception 1).

Comment. Accessible reach ranges specify a minimum height of 15 inches (308.3) for unobstructed reaches. The appliance industry called attention to certain types of doors that, when fully open, cannot easily meet this specification, such as dishwasher doors and doors of ovens and broilers that are part of free-standing ranges. Compliance with the reach range requirement when the door is fully open would severely impact the design and size of such appliances.

Response. The Board has included an exception for bottom-hinged appliance doors, which do not have to be within reach range requirements specified in 309.3 when open (804.6.2, Exception 2).

Ovens are required to have controls on front panels (804.6.5.3). A specification that these controls be to the side of the door has been removed in the final rule as unnecessarily restrictive.

805 Medical Care and Long-Term Care Facilities

Section 805 addresses access to patient or resident sleeping rooms in medical care and long-term care facilities. Revisions made to this section include:

  • removing a stipulation that wheelchair turning space not extend beneath beds (805.2)
  • clarifying fixture requirements in accessible toilet and bathing rooms (805.4)

Comment. Wheelchair turning space is required in patient rooms and resident sleeping rooms. The proposed rule prohibited this space from extending under beds (805.2). Commenters opposed this requirement, noting that it is inconsistent with specifications for wheelchair turning space in section 304 which recognize knee and toe clearances for specified portions of the turning space. Commenters questioned why space at beds are held to a higher standard. A similar requirement was included for transient lodging guest rooms (806.2.6) and holding and housing cells (807.2.1).

Response. For consistency with specifications for wheelchair turning space in section 304, the Board has removed the requirement prohibiting beds from overlapping this space. Beds can overlap turning space up to six inches where adequate toe clearance (9 inches high minimum) is provided. This change was also made for transient lodging guest rooms and holding and housing cells.

The Board has added clarification that toilet and bathing rooms provided as part of a patient or resident sleeping room contain at least one water closet, lavatory, and bathtub or shower (805.4).

806 Transient Lodging Guest Rooms

Section 806 addresses access to accessible guest rooms (806.2) and those guest rooms that provide access to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing (806.3). Substantive changes made to this section revise requirements for:

  • vanity counter spaces in accessible toilet or bathing rooms (806.2.4.1)
  • wheelchair turning space (806.2.6)
  • visual alarms (806.3.1)
  • telephones (806.3.2)

Comment. Requirements for accessible toilet and bathing rooms include a provision for vanity counter top spaces, which in the past have been omitted from accessible guest rooms even where provided for inaccessible rooms. This provision requires accessible vanity counter tops at lavatories in accessible guest rooms if vanity counter tops are provided in other guest rooms (806.2.4.1). The proposed rule required the vanity top in accessible rooms to be at least 2 square feet. Industry commenters considered this specification unduly restrictive while persons with disabilities considered it inadequate in ensuring equivalent access. The proposed rule also applied requirements for reach ranges and operable parts (sections 308 and 309) which would have effectively required knee and toe clearances below the vanities.

Response. The Board has removed the minimum surface requirement (2 square feet) for vanity counter tops. The revised provision requires vanity counter top space in accessible rooms to be comparable, in terms of size and proximity to lavatories, to those provided in other rooms of the same type. In addition, the requirement for compliance with sections 308 and 309 has been removed in the final rule. This change is consistent with the ANSI A117.1 standard.

A provision in section 806.2.6 prohibiting beds from overlapping wheelchair turning space has been removed for consistency with specifications for such space in section 304, as discussed above in section 805.2.

Guest rooms required to have accessible communication features are required to have visual alarms. As discussed above in section 702, technical requirements for visual alarms in the proposed rule have been replaced with references to criteria in the NFPA 72. Corresponding revisions have been made to the provision for visual alarms in guest rooms (806.3.1). This provision references both the visual and audible criteria for alarms in the NFPA standards.

Guest rooms providing communication access are also subject to requirements for notification devices and telephones (806.3.2). Telephones must have volume control. Also, telephones must be served by an accessible outlet not more than 4 feet away to facilitate use of TTYs. In the proposed rule, both of these requirements applied to "permanently installed" telephones. The Board has removed the term "permanently installed" because it is the Board’s understanding that the Department of Justice will clarify the application of the guidelines to permanently installed elements in its rulemaking to update its standards for consistency with these guidelines.

807 Holding Cells and Housing Cells

This section provides requirements for cells or rooms required to be accessible in detention or correctional facilities and judicial facilities. Revisions made to this section include:

  • removing a provision that wheelchair turning space not extend beneath beds (807.2.1)
  • clarifying fixture requirements in accessible toilet and bathing rooms (807.2.4)
  • relocating requirements for drinking fountains to the general scoping provision (211.1)
  • revising requirements for telephone volume controls (807.3.2)

A provision in section 807.2.1 prohibiting beds from overlapping wheelchair turning space has been removed for consistency with specifications for such space in section 304, as discussed above in section 805.2.

The Board has added clarification that at least one water closet, lavatory, and bathtub or shower, where provided, must be accessible (807.2.4). In addition, a requirement for drinking fountains has been removed (807.2.4 in the proposed rule) due to revisions made to the scoping provisions for drinking fountains in section 211, as discussed above.

Telephones, where provided within cells, must be equipped with volume controls (807.3.2). In the proposed rule, this requirement applied to telephones that are "permanently installed." As discussed above in section 806, the Board has removed this qualifier for consistency with the rest of the document.

808 Courtrooms

Section 808 provides requirements for courtrooms. These requirements have been relocated without substantive change from the scoping section for judicial facilities (231).

809 Residential Dwelling Units

The format and structure of these guidelines are designed to encourage an approach to accessibility that is more integrated than that of the original ADAAG. As a result, distinctions between facility types are minimized both in terms of substance and structure. The Board has sought to further this approach and to make the document more internally consistent by folding those remaining chapters specific to a facility type (residential and transportation) into the other chapters which apply to facilities more generally. Section 809 is based on requirements for residential dwelling units contained in Chapter 11 in the proposed rule. Other provisions have been integrated into other chapters as appropriate. In some cases, the Board determined that scoping or technical provisions applicable to facilities generally were sufficient without the addition of language specific to residential facilities. Most of the provisions, including those in section 809, have not been substantively changed. Those that have are discussed at the new location. The following list identifies the new location of the provisions that were contained in Chapter 11:

  • 1101.1 and 1102.1 Scoping, covered by 233
  • 1102.2 Primary Entrance, now at 206.4.6
  • 1102.3 Accessible Route, now at 809.2
  • 1102.4 Walking Surfaces, covered generally by 403
  • 1102.5 Doors and Doorways, now at 206.5.4
  • 1102.6 Ramps, covered generally by 405
  • 1102.7 Private Residence Elevators, now at 206.6 (scoping) and 409 (technical)
  • 1102.8 Platform Lifts, covered generally by 206.7 (scoping) and 410 (technical)
  • 1102.9 Operable Parts, now at 205
  • 1102.10 Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers, covered generally by 214
  • 1102.11 Toilet and Bathing Facilities, now at 809.4 and Chapter 6
  • 1102.12 Kitchens, now at 809.3 and 804
  • 1102.13 Windows, covered generally by 229
  • 1102.14 Storage Facilities, covered generally by 225 (scoping) and 811 (technical)
  • 1103 Dwelling Units with Accessible Communication Features, now at 809.5 and 708.4

Comment. Several commenters expressed concern about these requirements and their relationship to those issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Fair Housing Act.26 These commenters urged the Board and the Department of Justice to clarify which types of housing facilities are subject to the ADA and to make the requirements consistent with the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines.27 Other commenters recommended that the Board reconcile differences with the standards for residential facilities contained in the ANSI A117.1 standard.   

Response. This rule updates guidelines used to enforce the design requirements of the ADA and the ABA. While the ADA does not generally cover private residential facilities, its coverage is interpreted as extending to housing owned and operated by State and local governments. Under the ADA, the Department of Justice determines the application of the guidelines to residential facilities. In addition, the ABA, which applies to federally funded facilities, may apply to public housing and other types of residential facilities that are designed, built, or altered with Federal funds. Section 809 serves to update the requirements for dwelling units contained in the current ABA requirements, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), while providing new criteria in the ADA guidelines. Both the ADA and ABA establish design requirements for new construction and alterations that ensure full access for persons with disabilities. This mandate is considerably different than that established by the Fair Housing Act, which applies to covered multi-family housing in the private and public sectors. Consequently, the level of access specified by the ADA and ABA guidelines differs from that specified by the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. The requirements proposed by the Board derive from guidelines for residential facilities contained in the ANSI A117.1-1998 standard. However, in both the proposed and final rule, the Board has found it necessary to deviate from the ANSI A117.1 in limited areas. The Board intends to continue to work with the ANSI A117 Committee to reconcile differences between both documents in this and other areas.

The proposed rule, consistent with the ANSI A117.1-1998 standard, required all toilet and bathing facilities to comply in accessible dwelling units. The new ANSI standard requires that at least one toilet and bathing facility be accessible. The ANSI Committee adopted this change due to concerns about the impact of full scoping in light of revisions to its technical requirements for toilet and bathrooms. The technical revisions it approved are consistent with those finalized by the Board in this rulemaking. The Board also had concerns about the application of the proposed requirement to certain types of housing, such as group homes. In the final rule, the Board has revised the provision (809.4) to require access to at least one toilet and bathing facility, consistent with the ANSI A117.1-2003 standard.

Other comments concerning provisions for residential dwelling units that have been relocated to other sections are discussed at the new location.

810 Transportation Facilities

In the final rule, provisions in Chapter 10 for transportation facilities have been integrated into other chapters. Most of these requirements are now located in section 810, but some provisions have been integrated into other sections:

  • 1001.1 Scope, now at 218
  • 1002.1 through 1002.4, Bus Stops and Terminals, located at 810.2 through 810.4
  • 1002.5 Bus Stop Siting, now at 209
  • 1003.1 Facilities and Stations, now at 218
  • 1003.2 New Construction, now at 218
  • 1003.2.1 Station Entrances, now at 206.4.4
  • 1003.2.2 Signs, now at 810.6
  • 1003.2.3 Fare Machines and Gates, covered generally by 220 (Fare Machines) and 206.5 (Gates)
  • 1003.2.4 Detectable Warnings, now at 810.5
  • 1003.2.5 Rail-to-Platform Height, now at 810.5
  • 1003.2.6 TTYs, now at 217.4.7
  • 1003.2.7 Track Crossings, now at 810.10
  • 1003.2.8 Public Address Systems, now at 810.7
  • 1003.2.9 Clocks, now at 810.8
  • 1003.2.10 Escalators, now at 810.9
  • 1003.2.11 Direct Connections, now at 206.4.4
  • 1003.3 Existing Facilities, now at 218
  • 1003.3.1 Accessible Route, covered generally by 206 (Accessible Routes) and by 810.9 (Escalators)
  • 1003.3.2 Rail-to-Platform Height, now at 810.5
  • 1003.3.3 Direct Connections, now at 206.4
  • 1004.2 TTYs (in airports), now at 217.4.7
  • 1004.3 Terminal Information Systems (in airports), now at 810.7
  • 1004.4 Clocks (in airports), now at 810.8

Section 810 provides requirements for bus boarding and alighting areas (810.2), bus shelters (810.3), and bus signs (810.4). Revisions address:

  • bus boarding and alighting areas, including specified dimensions (810.2.2)
  • clarification of requirements for bus shelters (810.3)

Comment. Specifications in 810.2 for bus stops applied to "bus stop pads" in the proposed rule. Comments noted that this reference has been misinterpreted as applying to the vehicle space for buses which are sometimes provided with concrete pads, instead of to adjacent boarding areas.

Response. For clarity, the Board has applied requirements to "bus stop boarding and alighting areas" instead of to "bus stop pads."

Comment. Bus stop boarding and alighting areas are required to be at least 96 inches long and 60 inches wide. The proposed rule specified that these dimensions were required to "the maximum extent allowed by legal or site constraints" (1002.2.2). Comments considered this language unclear or unnecessary.

Response. The reference to legal or site constraints was intended to cover existing conditions that would effectively preclude sizing boarding and alighting areas to the minimum dimensions specified, such as narrow sidewalks. The Board has removed this language in section 810.2.2 in favor of a general scoping provision for alterations (202.3) which recognizes instances where compliance is not technically feasible. In such cases, compliance is required to the maximum extent feasible.

Section 810.3 addresses bus shelters, which are required to provide wheelchair space. The Board has included clarification that this space be located "entirely within the shelter" so that persons occupying the space can be adequately sheltered from the elements.

Requirements for rail stations and airports are provided in sections 810.5 through 810.10. Most of these provisions apply specifically to rail stations, but some are applicable to airports as well, such as requirements for public address systems (810.7) and clocks (810.8). Revisions made to these provisions address:

  • rail platforms (810.5)
  • rail station signs (810.6)
  • public address systems (810.7)
  • escalators (810.9)
  • track crossings (810.10)

Comment. Commenters advised that the specifications should address platforms for light rail vehicles which should be allowed to conform to the grade of the street.

Response. The Board has explicitly specified that rail platforms shall slope no more than 1:48 in any direction, consistent with cross slope provisions for walking surfaces in section 403. An exception has been added for platforms at existing tracks or tracks laid in existing roadways (810.5.1). Such platforms are permitted to have a slope parallel to the track that is equal to the slope (grade) of the roadway or existing track.

Rail platform requirements include specifications for detectable warnings along platform boarding edges not protected by screens or guards (810.5.2). The Board has added clarification that detectable warnings be provided "along the full length of the public use area of the platform."

The proposed rule, consistent with the original ADAAG, provided specifications for the coordination of vehicles and platforms, including maximum changes in level (plus or minus e inch) and horizontal gaps (3 inches for rail vehicles, 1 inch for automated guideway systems). Alternate specifications were provided for existing vehicles and stations. These requirements are paralleled in the Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles.28 For simplicity, the Board has replaced requirements in section 810.5 with references to these specifications as contained in the guidelines for transportation vehicles (810.5.3). This revision does not substantively change the requirements for the coordination of platforms and vehicle floors.

Comment. The referenced vehicle guidelines (like those of the proposed rule) permit the use of mini-high platforms, car-borne or platform-mounted lifts, ramps or bridge plates, or manually deployed devices where it is not operationally or structurally feasible to meet the specified changes in level or horizontal gaps. In the case of commuter and intercity rail systems, this is often due to track that is also used by freight trains because the passage of oversized freight precludes a high level platform. The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association had previously recommended a new platform height of 8 inches above top of rail. This height allows for freight passage while reducing the height of the first step of a rail car above the platform. Often a portable step stool is used to make up the height difference between a lower platform and the first step. Negotiating such a step can be difficult for ambulatory passengers, especially since handrails are usually not available. Also, requiring the 8 inch height would reduce the vertical travel distance for a lift. The Board sought comment on whether new platforms for commuter or intercity rail stations should have a height of 8 inches above top of rail (Question 47). Most comments supported such a requirement.

Response. The Board had added a requirement that low level platforms be at least 8 inches above top of rail (810.5.3). An exception intended for light rail systems allows a height below 8 inches where vehicles are boarded from sidewalks or at street level.

Comment. Section 810.6 addresses requirements for station signage, including signs at entrances, route and destination signs, and station names. These provisions reference requirements for tactile and visual characteristics in section 703. Commenters urged the Board to recognize audible signs as an alternative to tactile signs since they can provide equal or greater access to information.

Response. The Board has added an exception under which entrance, route, and destination signs do not have to comply with visual and tactile specifications where certain audible sign technologies are provided. The exception specifically recognizes those technologies that involve hand-held receivers, activation by users, or detection of people in proximity to the sign.

Comment. Requirements for route and destination signs are subject to specifications for visual signs in section 703, including character height (810.6.2). The proposed rule allowed certain signs to have a 3 inch minimum height where space is limited and a 1 ½ inch height for characters on signs not essential to the use of the transit system (1003.2.2.3, Exception). Comments pointed out that this exception should allow characters to be less than 3 inches high for consistency with the character heights specified for signs generally in section 703.

Response. The Board has corrected this exception so that characters are not required to be more than 3 inches high where sign space is limited. This would apply to conditions where signs are more than 10 feet above the ground or floor and the viewing distance is 21 feet or more (the only types of signs required by section 703.5 to have characters more than 3 inches high). The Board has removed as unnecessary the exception for signs not essential to the use of the transit system, such as exit street names.

Section 810.7 covers public address systems in rail stations and airports. The proposed rule required that where public address systems are provided to convey information to the public, a means of conveying the same or equivalent information to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing be provided. The Board has simplified this provision so that it requires "the same or equivalent information ... in a visual format."

Comment. In the proposed rule, the Board sought information for its use in future rulemaking to update the Board’s transportation vehicle guidelines. Specifically, the Board requested information on technologies for providing train announcements, including station announcements and emergency announcements, in a visual format so that this information is conveyed to people who are deaf or hard of hearing (Question 46). Recommendations included use of message boards for verbal announcements and visual signals, such as a flashing light, or audible signals such as bells and chimes. Some commenters recommended that this issue be revisited in rulemaking specific to the vehicle guidelines.

Response. The Board intends to further explore this issue during rulemaking to update its accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles.

Comment. Escalators must have a clear width of 32 inches minimum (810.9). The original ADAAG contained a requirement that at least two contiguous treads be level beyond the comb plate at the top and bottom before risers begin to form (ADAAG 10.3.1(16)). It also required color contrast on treads. Both provisions were removed in the proposed rule as recommended by the advisory committee, which questioned the need for such criteria in guidelines for accessibility. Comments requested that these specifications be restored for greater access. Commenters noted that the required color contrast benefits persons with low vision.

Response. In the final rule, the Board has added a reference to relevant provisions in the ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators instead of providing its own specification (810.9). This will ensure consistency with the safety code. The ASME code requires steps to be demarcated by yellow lines 2 inches wide maximum along the back and sides of steps (ASME A17.1, section 6.1.3.5.6). It also requires at least two flat steps and no more than four flat steps at the entrance and exit of every escalator (ASME A17.1, section 6.1.3.6.5). Consistent with the original ADAAG, an exception from these requirements is provided for existing escalators in key stations (810.9, Exception).

Section 810.10 addresses track crossings at transportation facilities. The proposed rule required route surfaces to be level with the rail top, but permitted a 2 ½ inch gap at the inner edge of rails to accommodate wheel flanges (1003.2.7). Where this gap is not practicable, an above-grade or below-grade accessible route was specified. In the final rule, the Board has simplified this provision by applying specifications for accessible routes. An exception preserves the permitted 2 ½ inch gap for wheel flanges.

811 Storage

Requirements in section 811 address storage. In the proposed rule, these provisions had been provided in Chapter 9 (section 905), which addresses built-in furnishings and equipment. These provisions have been moved to Chapter 8, which the Board considers a more appropriate location because it covers accessible spaces and elements. Provisions of this section address clear floor or ground space (811.2), the height of storage elements (811.3), and operable parts, such as storage hardware (811.4). In the final rule, the Board has clarified the application of the height specifications in section 811.3 to storage elements and has removed specific references to clothes rods and hooks, which it considers redundant. No substantive changes have been made to the criteria for storage.

Chapter 9: Built-In Elements

Chapter 9 covers built-in elements, including dining surfaces and work surfaces (902), benches (903), and sales and service counters (904). Changes made to this section include:

  • clarification of provisions for benches concerning clear floor or ground space (903.2), back support (903.4), and height (903.5)
  • addition of a requirement for check writing surfaces at check-out aisles (904.3.3)
  • clarification of requirements for accessible sales and service counters that are less than 36 inches long (904.4.1)
  • revision of requirements for communication devices where security glazing is provided (904.6)
  • relocation of provisions for storage from section 905 to Chapter 8 (811)

902 Dining Surfaces and Work Surfaces

Section 902 provides specifications for seating at dining and work surfaces. Clear floor space is required for a forward approach (902.2), and a surface height of 28 to 34 inches is specified (902.3). Alternate specifications for surfaces designed for children’s use are also provided (902.4).

Comment. Commenters expressed concern about use of the terms "dining surfaces" and "work surfaces" and urged the Board to include definitions of the terms in the final rule. Comments considered the term "dining surfaces" insufficient in covering bars where only drinks are consumed. Questions were also raised about the term "work surfaces" which some commenters thought might be misconstrued as applying only to surfaces in employee work areas. Some commenters considered the term too limiting and questioned whether it would apply, as they felt it should, to surfaces used for purposes not necessarily considered "work," such as counters that support credit card readers or video games. These comments urged the requirement to be modified to apply to all built-in tables and counters used by the public for any purpose.

Response. The Board has clarified the application of this section by revising scoping provisions for accessible dining and work surfaces, as discussed above in section 226. The term dining surface has been clarified as applying to those dining surfaces used "for the consumption of food or drink" (226.1). In addition, the Board has indicated in the ADA scoping provisions that the types of work surfaces covered do not include those surfaces used by employees since elements of work stations subject to the ADA are not required to comply with these guidelines (226.1). A similar clarification is not provided in ABA scoping provisions since work stations covered by the ABA are fully subject to the guidelines.

Comment. Persons with disabilities considered the 34 inch maximum height too high for surfaces used for any length of time. These commenters recommended that where only a portion of counters are made accessible, the accessible height should be 31 inches maximum. Some commenters also recommended a higher minimum height of 29 inches instead of 28 inches to allow a more comfortable knee clearance.

Response. The Board has not revised the specified height for dining and work surfaces or the minimum clearances for knee and toe space required below since it believes further research is needed on these long-standing specifications, particularly in relation to people who use scooters and other powered mobility aids. Research on powered mobility aids the Board is currently sponsoring through the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design will provide information on various fundamental specifications the Board may use in future updates of the guidelines.

903 Benches

Specifications for benches address clear floor or ground space (903.2), size (903.3), back support (903.4), height (903.5), structural strength (903.6), and slip resistance in wet locations (903.7).

Comment. The proposed rule specified that the wheelchair space be positioned so that it provides a parallel approach to an end of the bench seat (903.2). Commenters indicated that this provision could be misinterpreted as allowing the space to be provided in front of the bench at one end. Comments suggested clarifying that the clear floor or ground space is to be located parallel to the short axis of the bench.

Response. The Board has clarified that the clear floor or ground space is to be "parallel to the short axis of the bench."

Comment. The proposed rule required back support to be provided that extends vertically from a point no more than 2 inches above the bench to a height of at least 18 inches above the bench and that extends horizontally at least 42 inches (903.3). Commenters recommended clarification on the permitted horizontal distance of the back support from the rear edge of the seat. It was also recommended that the criteria for back support, which were included in the specifications for bench size, be relocated into a separate provision specific to back support.

Response. In the final rule, the specifications for back support have been clarified and relocated to a separate provision (903.4). The Board has added clarification that the back support may be located up to 2 ½ inches from the rear edge of the seat, measured horizontally. This specification is similar to one provided for shower seats (610.3). In addition, clarification has been added that the dimensions for back support are measured from the surface of the seat.

Comment. Commenters requested clarification as to whether walls can be used to provide back support where the seat is attached to walls. Most of these comments urged the Board to clearly allow the use of walls in providing back support. This would be consistent with an advisory note in the proposed rule which made reference to "dressing rooms where benches are fixed to the wall for back support" (Advisory 903.3).

Response. It was the Board’s intent in the proposed rule to allow the use of walls for back support where benches are attached to walls. In the final rule, the Board has added clarification to the text of the requirement stating that benches shall provide back support or shall be affixed to the wall (903.4).

Comment. The proposed rule specified that the bench seat be 17 to 19 inches above the floor or ground (903.4). Commenters noted that this specification should be clarified as applying to the height as measured at the top of the seat surface.

Response. In the final rule, the specification for height (renumbered as 903.5) has been revised as applying to the top of the bench seat surface.

904 Sales and Service Counters

This section covers the approach to counters (904.2), check-out aisles (904.3), sales and service counters (904.4), food service lines (904.5), and security glazing (904.6).

Comment. Specifications are provided for the counter surface height of check-out aisles, including the height of counter edge protection, which is limited to 2 inches above the counter surface (904.3.2). Commenters requested that clarification be added that the edge protection height limitation applies only to the aisle of the check-out counter.

Response. The Board has added clarification that the specified height for edge protection at check-out aisle counters applies to the aisle side of the counter (904.3.2).

Comment. The counter surface of check-out aisle counters is required to be 38 inches high maximum. Comments from persons with disabilities considered 38 inches to be too high.

Response. The Board has clarified requirements for check-out aisles by adding a provision specific to check-writing surfaces (904.3.3). Under this requirement, the height of check-writing surfaces, where provided, is to comply with the height of work surfaces addressed in section 902.3 (34 inches maximum), consistent with the Board’s intent in the proposed rule.

Comment. Accessible sales or services counters, or portions of them, must be no higher than 36 inches where either a parallel or forward approach is provided (904.4). Comments from persons with disabilities considered this too high to be used as a writing surface. Where only a portion of a counter is made accessible, these commenters advised that the maximum height should be 32 inches. Comments from the retail industry advised that a higher surface height is needed to accommodate various types of counters, such as glass display cases, which are typically manufactured at a height of 38 inches.

Response. The Board has retained the specified height of 36 inches for sales and service counters, which is consistent with the original ADAAG, to accommodate both persons who use wheelchairs and those that do not. Even where only a portion of the counter is accessible, in some cases that portion may serve as the transaction area for all customers. In the final rule, the Board has clarified that the accessible portion of counters must extend the full depth of the counter (904.4.1 and 904.4.2), consistent with the new ANSI A117.1 standard. Where a parallel approach is provided, the accessible portion must be at least 36 inches long. The Board has added an exception that where a provided counter surface is less than 36 inches long, the entire surface shall be accessible to clarify that in such cases the counter does not have to be lengthened (904.4.1, Exception).

Section 904.6 requires that where counter or teller windows have security glazing to separate personnel from the public, at least one of each type must provide a method to facilitate voice communication.

Comment. The proposed rule referenced examples of acceptable methods (grilles, slats, talk-through baffles, intercoms, and telephone handset devices) and required access both for persons who use wheelchairs and for persons who may have difficulty bending or stooping. Commenters indicated that access for persons who have difficulty bending or stooping is unclear absent specific technical criteria. Such criteria should be provided or the requirement removed according to these comments. In addition, it was recommended that the requirement for volume control for "hand-operable communication devices" be revised for clarity as applying to telephone handset devices.

Response. The requirement that methods to facilitate voice communication be accessible both to persons who use wheelchairs and to persons who may have difficulty bending or stooping has been removed in the final rule (904.6). The Board has also clarified that the requirement for volume controls applies to telephone handset devices, where provided. In addition, the Board has relocated information concerning acceptable types of communication methods to the corresponding advisory note which is a more appropriate location for this kind of information.

Chapter 10: Recreation Facilities

Chapter 10 contains technical provisions for various types of recreation facilities. These requirements were developed separately from this rulemaking and have been incorporated into the final rule without substantive change. Sections of this chapter address:

  • amusement rides (1002)
  • recreational boating facilities (1003)
  • exercise machines (1004)
  • fishing piers and platforms (1005)
  • golf facilities (1006)
  • miniature golf facilities (1007)
  • play areas (1008)
  • swimming pools, wading pools, and spas (1009)
  • shooting facilities with firing positions (1010)

1002 Amusement Rides

Provisions for amusement rides require either a wheelchair space on the ride, a ride seat designed for transfer, or a device designed for transfer to the ride. This section also addresses access at loading and unloading areas and provides criteria for wheelchair spaces, ride seats designed for transfer, and transfer devices.

1003 Recreational Boating Facilities

This section provides requirements for gangways, boating piers at boat launch ramps, and boat slips. Requirements for accessible routes and ramps are applied to gangways, but exceptions to criteria for maximum rise and slope, handrail extensions, and level landings are provided.

1004 Exercise Machines

This section requires clear floor space for transfer to, or use of, exercise machines.

1005 Fishing Piers and Platforms

Specifications for fishing piers and platforms address accessible routes, railings, edge protection, clear floor space, and turning space.

1006 Golf Facilities

Provisions of this section recognize that access to golf courses is typically achieved through the use of golf cars. Golf car passages are permitted in lieu of accessible routes throughout golf courses. Technical criteria are provided for golf car passages, accessible routes, teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters.

1007 Miniature Golf Facilities

This section covers miniature golf courses and contains specifications for accessible routes that take into account design conventions for miniature golf courses, such as carpeted play surfaces and curbs. All level areas of an accessible hole where a ball may come to rest are to be within golf club reach of the accessible route.

1008 Play Areas

The play area specifications address accessible routes, ground level and elevated play components, play structures, and ground surfaces.

1009 Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas

This section addresses access to swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. Specifications are provided for various means of providing pool access, including pool lifts, sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems, and stairs.

1010 Shooting Facilities with Firing Positions

This section requires turning space at firing positions required to be accessible.