On March 15th 2012 the Department of Justice with begin requiring compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design in all new and altered Title II and Title III entities.  Generally speaking, most designers welcome the new standards since they have been harmonized with the International Building Code (IBC) and the ICC/ANSI A117.1.

Both the IBC and ICC are references that many municipalities have been using for some time. Yet despite the harmonization, since the guideline’s effective date of September 15, 2010, there have been some sections that have left designers scratching their heads. Accessibility Services provides numerous training opportunities for architects, engineers, contractors, and builders in regards to the myriad of applicable accessibility laws, including the new 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The guideline’s requirement for residential occupancies tends to be an interesting topic for those trying to understand the new law. So, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the general scoping requirements for residential facilities in the 2010 ADA which cover transient facilities found in section 224 and residential facilities found in 233.

Section 224 covers scoping requirements for transient facilities. For the most part, the new requirements found in the 2010 ADA are quite similar to the old requirements found in the 1991 ADAAG. Facilities such as hotels and motels are required to have a certain number of rooms designed and constructed for persons with mobility disabilities (see section 806.2) and communication disabilities (see section 806.3). The number of units designed to meet the needs of those types of disabilities are determined by the number of total units being constructed based on table 224.2 of the 2010 ADA.  One who is familiar with the old ADAAG table in section 9.1.2 should have no trouble understanding the new table. But do keep in mind that while a certain number of units are required to contain roll in showers, the new ADA also requires a certain number of units be without roll in showers. Additionally, the 2010 ADA table for guest rooms with communication features is quite similar to the 1991 ADAAG table in section 9.1.3. It is important to point out, however, that the numbers have changed to increase scoping. Be sure to verify the number of communication units required based on the new table. Lastly, keep in mind that it is always important to ensure the accessible units are dispersed to represent all types of units being offered in the transient facility. People with disabilities should be provided with the same room options as those without disabilities (i.e. suites, views, bed sizes, etc.).

One big change found in the new guidelines covers dormitory design. While traditionally dormitories have fallen into the transient facilities category, the 2010 ADA asks designers to determine between undergraduate dormitories and graduate dormitories.  An undergraduate dormitory is clearly a transient facility due to the transient nature of undergraduate students, whereas graduate students are considered more permanent and their facilities must be designed based on the residential facility requirement found in section 233. Specifically, apartments or townhouses that are provided by or on behalf of a place of education, which are leased on a year-round basis exclusively for graduate students or faculty, and do not contain any public use or common use areas available for educational programming.

Section 233 covers scoping for residential facilities. This is a huge difference between the 1991 ADAAG and the 2010 ADA as the old requirements contained no scoping indications for residential buildings. Under the old guidelines, Title II entities that built residential facilities were only encouraged to look to the federal UFAS requirements for guidance. The new guidelines, however, do contain scoping requirements for residential buildings. Specifically, in Title II entities at least 5 percent of the units must be designed and constructed for persons with mobility disabilities (see section 806.2) and at least 2 percent of the units designed and constructed for persons with communication disabilities (see section 806.3). It’s important to note that these requirements are only for Title II entities (and graduate student dormitories as discussed above). A Title II entity covered by section 233 would be a state or local government that builds residential dwelling units. All private residential facilities are typically not governed by section 233. Keep in mind, however, that all residential facilities might also be required to comply with the federal Fair Housing Act requirements.

As a reminder, these new 2010 ADA requirements will be mandatory starting on March 15th 2012. Designers building transient facilities should begin to familiarize themselves with the new scoping requirements in section 224. Additionally, designers of state or local government residential buildings need to ensure they are familiar with the new scoping requirements in section 233. Should you want to learn more about the new 2010 ADA requirements for transient and residential facilities, contact Jimmy Zuehl at 718-803-3782, Ext. 7505 or jzuehl@accessibility-services.com.