Architectural Barriers Exemptions in Texas

Sometimes it’s easier to learn what you don’t have to do rather than to learn….uh…this sentence is going nowhere fast.

Anyway, here in Texas, we have the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS).  But these are just a set of building requirements.  They don’t tell you what is subject to compliance.  To know what facilities are subject to compliance with the TAS, you must take a look at the TDLR Architectural Barriers Administrative Rules (there are no short titles in this business).

Section 68.20 lists facilities that must comply with the TAS.

But better than that is Section 68.30 that tells you what does not have to comply.

Specifically, these are exemptions from the Act (aka, Texas Government Code, Chapter 469, Elimination of Architectural Barriers (aka, the Texas Architectural Barriers Act)).  When you are exempt from the Act, you are also exempt from the Texas Accessibility Standards.

68.30. Exemptions.

The following buildings, facilities, spaces, or elements are exempt from the provisions of the Act:

(1) Federal Property. Buildings or facilities owned, operated, or leased by the federal government;

(2) Construction Sites. Structures and sites directly associated with the actual processes of construction, including, but not limited to, scaffolding, bridging, materials hoists, materials storage, construction trailers, and portable toilet units provided for use exclusively by construction personnel on a construction site;

(3) Raised Areas. Areas raised primarily for purposes of security, life safety, or fire safety, including, but not limited to, observation or lookout galleries, prison guard towers, fire towers, or lifeguard stands;

(4) Limited Access Spaces. Spaces accessed only by ladders, catwalks, crawl spaces, or very narrow passageways;

(5) Machinery Spaces. Spaces accessed primarily by service personnel for maintenance, repair, or occasional monitoring of equipment. Machinery spaces include, but are not limited to, elevator pits, elevator penthouses, mechanical, electrical, or communications equipment rooms, piping or equipment catwalks, water and sewage treatment pump rooms and stations, petroleum and chemical processing and distribution structures, electric substations and transformer vaults, environmental treatment structures, and highway and tunnel utility facilities;

(6) Single Occupant Structures. Single occupant structures accessed only by passageways below grade or elevated above standard curb height, including but not limited to, toll booths that are accessed only by underground tunnels;

(7) Restricted Occupancy Spaces. Vertical access (elevators and platform lifts) is not required for the second floor of two-story control buildings located within a chemical manufacturing facility where the second floor is restricted to employees and does not contain common areas or employment opportunities not otherwise available in accessible locations within the same building;

(8) Places Used Primarily for Religious Rituals. An area within a building or facility of a religious organization used primarily for religious ritual as determined by the owner or occupant. To facilitate the plan review, the owner or occupant shall include a clear designation of such areas with the plans submitted for review. This exemption does not apply to common use areas. Examples of common use areas include, but are not limited to, the following: parking facilities, accessible routes, walkways, hallways, toilet facilities, entrances, public telephones, drinking fountains, and exits;

(9) Specific Employee Work Areas. Employee work areas, or portions of employee work areas, that are less than 300 square feet (28m2) in area and elevated 7 inches (180 mm) or more above the ground or finish floor where the elevation is essential to the function of the spaces; and dumpster pads/enclosures that are accessed exclusively by employees;

(10) Van Accessible Parking at Garages Constructed Prior to April 1994. Parking garages where construction was started before April 1, 1994, and the existing vertical clearance of the garage is less than 98”, are exempted from requirements to have van-accessible parking spaces located within the garage. If additional surface parking is provided, the required van accessible parking spaces shall be located on a surface lot in closest proximity to the accessible public entrance serving the facility; and

(11) Residential Facilities. Those portions of public or privately funded apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and single-family dwellings used exclusively by residents and their guests.

#9 Specific Employee Work Areas, is a very popular exemption, but the height must be “essential to the function of the space”.  It is not acceptable to just arbitrarily elevate areas to avoid providing access.

#11 exempts residential facilities from the TAS, but does not address applicability of the Fair Housing Act.


One Response to Architectural Barriers Exemptions in Texas

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