General Issues

Unisex Toilet and Bathing Facilities

The Access Board received a number of comments concerning the need for unisex toilet and bathing facilities to accommodate people with personal attendants of the opposite sex. In the interim rule, the Access Board noted that it would examine appropriate means of addressing this issue. In May 1994, the Access Board held an informational workshop to discuss the issue of scoping requirements for unisex toilet and bathing facilities. Subsequently, at the Access Board's request, the Board for the Coordination of Model Codes (BCMC) developed scoping provisions for unisex toilet and bathing facilities. BCMC recommended single-user toilet and bathing facilities in assembly and mercantile occupancies where an aggregate of six or more fixtures (e.g., toilets for either men or women) are provided. Assembly occupancies include, but are not limited to, theaters, museums, nightclubs, stadiums, amusement parks, restaurants, health clubs and transportation facilities. Mercantile occupancies include public accommodations for display and sales purposes, such as stores and shopping malls. The BCMC report has been incorporated, with minor modification, into the Uniform Building Code (UBC), the Standard Building Code (SBC) and the National Building Code (BOCA). The Access Board will continue to participate in the advancement of the recommendations of the BCMC report. The Access Board anticipates that the provisions concerning unisex toilet and bathing facilities will be included in the International Building Code as it is developed for publication in the year 2000.

Swimming Pools

The interim rule contained a requirement that at least one means of access be provided into swimming pools covered by title II if the pool was intended for recreational purposes and not intended solely for diving or wading. Technical specifications for pool access were not provided. This requirement has been removed in the final rule.

Comment. While many commenters supported a requirement for pool access, concern was also expressed over the absence of any technical guidance on meeting the requirement. Commenters noted that the ADAAG specifications for ramps in 4.8.5 require handrails which, if applied to swimming pool access, may pose a hazard below the water level to swimmers and that devices, such as sling-type lifts, were not independently operable. Commenters varied greatly on what means of access into swimming pools should be required. The suitability of the available design solutions depended on the needs and preferences of individual users. It was recommended that any requirement for pool access include technical specifications to prevent confusion and for safety reasons. Commenters also considered pool access equally important for facilities covered by title III of the ADA.

Response. The Access Board established a Recreation Access Advisory Committee to provide recommendations for the development of accessibility guidelines for swimming pools, other recreational facilities, and outdoor developed areas. This advisory committee identified important considerations in providing access into swimming pools that merit further study. As a result, the Access Board sponsored research on these issues to obtain information necessary for the development of possible future technical specifications. The requirement for access into pools has been removed. The Access Board will consider the results of the study, as well as the advisory committee's recommendations, when it conducts a separate rulemaking in the future to address recreational facilities. These future guidelines will apply to entities covered by both titles II and III of the ADA.

Other Issues

Several comments addressed other issues raised in the NPRM and discussed in the interim rule, such as assembly areas, and voting booths. Many of these comments supported rulemaking in these areas. While the Access Board may address these issues in future rulemaking, it is not prepared to do so as part of this final rule.