A newly created advisory committee on courthouse access held its first meeting November 4 and 5 in Washington, D.C. The Courthouse Access Advisory Committee was organized by the Board to explore issues related to the accessibility of courthouses, particularly courtrooms, including best practices, design solutions, promotion of accessible features, and educational opportunities. The committee’s work will help address a variety of challenges to access in such facilities.
The committee's 31 members include designers and architects, disability groups, members of the judiciary, court administrators, representatives of the codes community and standard-setting entities, government agencies, and others with an interest in the issues to be explored. The members were selected among applications the Board received in response to a published notice.
At the meeting, members discussed issues the committee should address and explore in fulfilling its mission. Most recommendations addressed topics and opportunities pertaining to education and outreach, design and construction, and existing facilities. The agenda also included briefings by the Board on the protocols governing the work of Federal advisory committees, guidelines it previously established for judicial facilities under the ADA, and design issues it has identified. In addition, the committee organized three subcommittees focused on education, courtroom access, and courthouse spaces other than courtrooms. Subcommittees will allow work to proceed in between committee meetings, which will take place on a quarterly basis, and in past Board experience have enabled greater public participation beyond committee membership. Members Eve Hill, of Western Law Center for Disability Rights and Sam Overton of the California Administrative Office of the Courts were elected co-chairs of the committee. (See draft meeting minutes.)
The committee's next meeting will be held February 10 and 11, 2005 in Phoenix. As part of this meeting, members will tour area courthouses, including a Federal and a municipal facility. Several architects on the committee will make presentations on the courthouse design, including traditional and customary courtroom features. Committee meetings are open to the public and provide opportunities for interested persons to provide comment.