The traditional design of courthouses, particularly courtrooms, poses unique challenges to access for persons with disabilities. Most courtrooms feature a variety of elevated spaces, including witness stands, jury boxes, and judges’ benches, within areas limited by the well of the court and spectator seating. Determining the best way to provide access to these spaces can be difficult. The Board is undertaking an effort to develop information on courtroom design that addresses these and other aspects of accessibility as part of an outreach initiative that will highlight and promote access to courthouses. While the Board has established guidelines for courthouses under the ADA which cover access to courtrooms, many have sought guidance on how compliance can best be achieved. Additional information will be helpful that explores new or innovative design solutions.
At its May meeting, the Board approved a plan to establish an advisory committee to gather and develop this information. Advisory committees allow for a cross-section of different interests and stakeholders to advise the Board on particular issues. They have played an instrumental role in the Board’s development of guidelines and standards. However, this committee will not be tasked with making recommendations for new guidelines. Instead, its mission will be to advise the Board on issues related to the accessibility of courthouses, particularly courtrooms, including best practices, design solutions, promotion of accessible features, educational opportunities, and the gathering of information on existing barriers, practices, recommendations, and guidelines.
Through a notice published in the Federal Register on June25th, the Board requests applications for representatives to serve on the committee. The Board seeks to include members representing designers and architects, disability groups, members of the judiciary, including judges and court administrators and organizations representing them, the codes community and standard-setting entities, government agencies, and others with an interest in the issues to be explored. The committee will be structured to represent a balanced cross-section of different interests. The published notice provides instructions on submitting applications. Applications must be received by August 24, 2004.
For further information, contact Elizabeth Stewart of the Board at (202) 272-0042 (v), (202) 272-0082 (TTY), or firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
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