Access Currents: May/ June 2012

 

Board Releases Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Transportable Housing emergency transportable housing unitsThe U.S. Access Board has released for public comment accessibility guidelines for temporary housing provided by the government in emergencies and natural disasters. The proposed guidelines would supplement the Board's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines, which cover many types of facilities, including dwelling units, by adding provisions that specifically address emergency transportable housing. It would also supplement companion guidelines the Board maintains under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which applies to federally funded facilities.

Emergency transportable housing units, which are designed and manufactured for transport over roadways, have a smaller footprint than other types of housing and pose unique accessibility challenges. Access to such housing was found to be problematic in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The proposed rule would revise certain provisions in the ADA and ABA guidelines to address these types of units, including requirements for ramps, floor surfaces, kitchens, showers, and bedrooms. The proposal would require additional features, such as folding seats in roll-in showers, to improve accessibility. Some changes are responsive to design constraints and would provide exceptions from certain technical criteria for elements such as entry ramps under certain conditions. Accessible communication features, including smoke alarms and weather alert systems, are also addressed.

The proposed changes are based on consensus recommendations prepared by an advisory panel organized by the Board, the Emergency Transportable Housing Advisory Committee. This committee included representatives from disability groups, industry and code groups, and government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The proposed rule includes a discussion of these requirements that highlights areas where additional information is sought. The deadline for comments on the guidelines is August 17. Comments can be submitted or viewed at www.regulations.gov. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. on July 11 that will provide an additional forum for submitting comment and will offer a call-in option for those unable to attend in person. Additional details are posted on the Board's website.

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0020 (v), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY).

Public Hearing on the Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Transportable Housing
July 11, 9:30 – 11:30
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Call-in option (listening only):
Dial: (517) 308-9247 or (888) 469-2078 (toll-free)
Passcode: 4144
To submit comments by phone, contact Kathy Johnson in advance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 202) 272-0041 (v), or (202) 272-0065 (TTY)

 


Public Submits Comments on Proposed Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment
On June 8, the four-month comment period closed on the Board's proposed standards for medical diagnostic equipment. These standards provide design criteria for accessible examination tables and chairs, weight scales, mammography equipment, and other equipment used for diagnostic purposes. In response to its proposed rule, the Board received almost 60 comments from the public which can be viewed at regulations.gov.

The Board is organizing an advisory committee of stakeholders to develop consensus recommendations on how the standards should be finalized based on a review of the public comments. Committee members will include representatives from disability groups, equipment manufacturers, health care providers, and standard-setting organizations. The Board requested applications for committee membership through a notice issued in March and will announce the committee's formation in coming weeks. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting in September. Committee meetings and deliberations will be open to the public and will be conducted in accordance with regulations governing Federal advisory committees.

Those interested in this rulemaking or the work of the advisory committee can sign up to receive email updates. For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Rex Pace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0023 (v), or (202) 272-0052 (TTY).


Next Meeting of the Board to be Webcast
The next meeting of the Access Board, which will take place July 11th from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET), will be webcast live. The agenda for this meeting includes:

  • Approval of the draft March 14, 2012 meeting minutes (vote)
  • Technical Programs Committee Report
  • Budget Committee Report (vote)
  • Planning and Evaluation Committee Report (vote)
  • Ad Hoc Committee Reports on Passenger Vessels (vote) and on Outdoor Developed Areas (vote)
  • Executive Director's Report
  • Public Comment, Open Topics

For further details on viewing the webcast, visit the Board's website. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Board's Conference Center at 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800, in downtown Washington, D.C. For further information, contact Rose Bunales at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0006 (v), or (202) 272-0057 (TTY).


DOJ Extends ADA Compliance Date for Existing Pools and Spas to January 31DOJ seal
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has extended the effective date for updated ADA requirements applicable to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas to January 31, 2013. DOJ is providing this extension due to confusion among pool owners and operators over their ADA responsibilities in providing access to existing pools and spas. This action allows over an additional 10 months to comply with requirements that otherwise were to take effect March 15 of this year. The extension applies only to existing pools and spas and does not delay implementation of requirements for those that are newly built or altered.

DOJ issued an initial 2-month extension in March and sought information from the public on whether a longer extension was warranted. In response, DOJ received almost 2,000 comments from the public. Respondents favored a longer extension by about a 2 to 1 margin, but many comments against further extension offered compelling reasons not to further delay implementation. As indicated in a published notice, DOJ determined that an extension to January 31, 2013 was justified due to on-going confusion over the obligation to address barriers at existing sites and acceptable alternatives for achieving access.

DOJ's 2010 ADA standards, which are closely based on updated guidelines issued by the Access Board, provide detailed specifications on how to achieve access to pools and spas by lift, sloped entry, and other means (sections 242 and 1009). These standards, which apply to new construction and planned alterations but are also pertinent to access retrofits, only recognize permanent and fixed means of access. According to DOJ, confusion had arisen among pool owners and operators over acceptable means of access into existing pools and spas and whether portable solutions were acceptable. DOJ had indicated in previously issued guidance that lifts or other means of access to existing pools must be fixed, but departures may be permitted in certain limited situations.

Further information on this extension and ADA requirements for existing pools and spas is available from DOJ on its website or its technical assistance line at 800-514-0301 (voice) 800-514-0383 (TTY). Technical assistance on the ADA design requirements, including provisions for pools and spas as they apply in new construction and planned alterations, is available from the Access Board at (800) 872-2253 (voice), (800) 993-2822 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . A guide on the requirements in the ADA standards for pools and spas is also available from the Board.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars
The next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will cover accessible kitchens and kitchenettes and will take place July 5 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET). This session will review scoping and technical provisions for sinks, counters, appliances, clear floor space, and other requirements for kitchens and kitchenettes in the ADA and ABA standards.

The following webinar, to be held August 2, 2012 2:30 - 4:00 (ET), will review requirements for detention and correctional facilities.

The webinar series is made available in cooperation with the ADA National Network. For more information, including registration instructions, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site.


Access Currents is a free newsletter issued by the Access Board every other month by mail and e-mail. Send questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (800) 872-2253 ext. 0026 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). Mailing address: 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000; Washington, D.C. 20004-1111.