Print

CHAPTER 3:  HARMONIZATION BENEFITS

3.0  Introduction

 

The Access Board worked collaboratively with the International Code Council and the ANSI A117 Committee to harmonize the final revised guidelines with the new International Building Code, which was first issued in 2000 and revised in 2003, and the ICC/ANSA A117.1 Standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, which was revised in 1998 and 2003.  The 2000 and 2003 editions of the International Building Code reference the 1998 edition of the ICC/ANSI A117.1 standard for technical requirements.  As discussed below, harmonization benefits State and local governments, businesses, architects, and individuals with disabilities.   

3.1  State and Local Governments

State and local governments that adopt the model codes and standards want accessibility requirements in the model codes and standards and at the Federal level to be harmonized.  The Americans with Disabilities Act authorizes the Department of Justice to certify State or local codes that meet or exceed Federal accessibility requirements.[48]  State and local governments that adopt the International Building Code will find it easier to have their codes certified, and more State and local governments are expected to submit their codes to the Department of Justice for certification.[49]  In jurisdictions where codes have been certified by the Department of Justice, business owners, builders, developers, and architects can rely on their State or local government building plan approval and inspection processes as a “check-point” for ensuring that their facilities comply with Federal accessibility requirements.  Potential mistakes can be corrected early in the construction process when adjustments can be made easily and inexpensively compared to costly retrofitting after a facility is constructed.  Compliance with a certified code is also evidence of compliance with Federal accessibility requirements in litigation to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act.[50] 

3.2  Businesses

 

Business owners, builders, and developers want consistent and uniform accessibility requirements adopted by the Federal, State, and local governments.  It is difficult and time consuming for them to deal with different accessibility requirements at each layer of government.  Dealing with different accessibility requirements at the Federal, State, and local levels can also contribute to mistakes requiring costly corrections after the facilities are constructed.    Harmonization of accessibility requirements at the Federal, State, and local levels promotes efficiency and economic growth for businesses.

3.3  Architects

 

Architects who design buildings also want consistent and uniform accessibility requirements adopted by the Federal, State, and local governments.  Architects bear the primary responsibility for designing facilities that meet accessibility requirements and are potentially liable for any mistakes that could result in litigation.  Harmonization of accessibility requirements at the Federal, State, and local levels makes it easier for architects to design accessible facilities and reduces the potential for mistakes and litigation.

3.4  Individuals with Disabilities

 

Individuals with disabilities are the ultimate beneficiaries of harmonization.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are 52.5 million Americans with disabilities in the civilian non-institutionalized population age 5 and over.[51]  Almost one in five individuals has some type of disability.  Among individuals 15 years old and over, 25 million have difficulty walking or using stairs.  Harmonization will result in increased compliance with Federal accessibility requirements in jurisdictions that adopt the model codes and standards, and use their plan approval and inspection processes to check for compliance.  Increased compliance will result in more accessible facilities for individuals with disabilities.