Differences between A117.1-2009 and the 2010 ADA Standards

February 28, 2014

The most obvious difference between the 2010 ADA Standards and A117.1-2009 is Chapter 2. Chapter 2 of the  ADA Standards provides complete scoping for determining when and where accessibility is required. Chapter 2 of A117.1 does not include scoping but instead defers to the administrative authority that adopted the standard. Typically, the scoping comes from Chapter 11 of the IBC.

Aside from this bureaucratic difference, there are some major differences between the scoping and technical requirements of the ADA Standards and the IBC/ICC A117.1.

For example: Multiple Single-User Toilet and Bathing Rooms

Both standards start with the requirement that each toilet room and bathing room must be accessible.

ADA 213.2 Toilet Rooms and Bathing Rooms. Where toilet rooms are provided, each toilet room shall comply with 603. Where bathing rooms are provided, each bathing room shall comply with 603.

IBC 1109.2 Toilet and bathing facilities. Each toilet room and bathing room shall be accessible.

Then, exceptions are offered for existing conditions, private offices, transient lodging and medical facilities.

The exceptions for multiple single-use toilet rooms have one not-so-obvious difference:

ADA 213.2 Exception 4. Where multiple single user toilet rooms are clustered at a single location, no more than 50 percent of the single user toilet rooms for each use at each cluster shall be required to comply with 603.

IBC 1109.2 Exception 3. Where multiple single-user toilet rooms or bathing rooms are clustered at a single location, at least 50% but not less than one room for each use at each cluster shall be accessible.

The exception in the ADA Standards leaves out bathing rooms and only allows the exception for toilet rooms. It is unclear why bathing rooms were not included in the exception.

The result is that if you have multiple single user bathrooms in facility such as a truck stop, 100% of the bathing rooms must be accessible. A clinic that has 4 unisex toilet rooms would only require 2 accessible toilet rooms.

This interpretation has been confirmed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and addressed in Technical Memorandum 2013-10.



Fake Braille. Seriously?

July 29, 2013

Meanwhile, in Canada…


Researching Projects in Texas

January 31, 2013

A not-so-secret tool of Accessibility Specialists is the TDLR AB Project Data Search. This search engine includes all projects that have been registered for accessibility review and inspection in Texas. It’s a great tool, but use caution. The information isn’t always correct.

Search results will give the option to reprint the “Project Confirmation Page”




The confirmation page includes all of the information that was submitted by the architect or owner when the project was initially registered. Unfortunately, the confirmation page is a snapshot and cannot be changed; take care when you register a project with TDLR that all of the info is correct.

Older projects and projects that were registered by TDLR will not have confirmation pages.


This example search result shows that the construction at my office was inspected by Ms. Harris and was disapproved. Once all of the paperwork is completed, the Current/Last Action will change to an approval.


A ridiculously awesome edition of the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards

January 23, 2012

In my spare time, I do a bit of bookbinding. It helps to keep the voices in my head quiet.

Each year the Accessibility Professionals Association hosts a conference in Austin. Part of the conference includes an auction to raise money for the Jim Boyce Memorial Scholarship.

Last year I made a hardcover edition of the 2010 ADA Standards with a gold-leaf wheelchair on the cover.

This year, I went for something smaller and more useful. A leather-bound “pocket” edition that includes a notepad. You will need big strong pockets to carry this thing, it’s only 4.5×5.75 but it’s 1-1/2″ thick and weighs as much as a cue ball. It’s durable and should be very useful to the lucky winner.

Pocket Edition of the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards

HB 2658 to eliminate the Architectural Barriers Act

March 24, 2011

Update 03.29.2011: The bill has been referred to the Government Efficiency & Reform Committee. This committee is meeting this coming Thursday, but HB 2658 is not the agenda.


On March 24, representatives of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, ADAPT of Texas and other interested parties met with Representative Lavender to discuss HB 2658.

The bill can be read here: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2658

This Bill would do away with TDLR Architectural Barriers and the Registered Accessibility Specialist program.

Check back for more updates.

Dimensional Tolerance Guidelines from the US Access Board

February 24, 2011

Previously on the ArchBarrierBlog, I shocked the industry by writing about dimensional tolerances: New Accessibility Standards, Part 2: Dimensions

Now, the Access-Board has released a new report titled “Initiative on Dimensional Tolerances in Construction Dimensional Tolerances for Surface” and prepared by the amazing David Kent Ballast, author of noir thrillers such as the ARE Review Manual.

Personally, I credit Mr. Ballast for helping me to pass the ARE on my first attempt.

SPOILER ALERT: If you are a hardcore fan of technical documents , stop reading now.

Although, I haven’t read the whole document cover to cover here is the spoiler:

1.2 Suggested tolerances

1.2.1 Walks and other non – ramp surfaces. When overall running slope for walks is measured according to Section 1.1.3 a recommended tolerance for running slope is +1%. When overall cross slope for sidewalks is measured according to 1.1.4 a recommended tolerance for cross slope is +0.5%.

1.2.2 When flatness of running slope for an accessible surface other than a ramp is measured according to Section 1.1.5 no more than 20% (rounded to the nearest whole number) of the measurements should exceed ±1/4 in. in 10 ft (±6 mm in 3 m). When flatness of cross slope for an accessible surface other than a ramp is measured according to Section 1.1.6 at least 80% (rounded to the nearest whole number) of the measurements should not exceed a 2% slope. The remaining measurements should not exceed a 2.5% slope.

1.2.3 Landings. Both measurements of ramp landings as described in Section 1.1.15 should not exceed a plus tolerance of 0.5%.

1.2.4 When local horizontal discontinuities and vertical alignments are measured according to Section 1.1.9 a recommended tolerance is ±1/8 in. (3 mm).

1.2.5 Ramps. When overall running slope and cross slope for accessible ramps are measured according to Sections 1.1.11 a recommended tolerance for these slopes is +0.5%.

In the ideal case, planning for a 7.5% running slope allows for construction inaccuracies while still maintaining the required 1:12 slope. However, when a design slope of 1:12 is indicated a tolerance of +0.5% is reasonable.

Many accessibility experts consider a 2% cross slope to be the maximum. However, there is conflicting research concerning the need to have a 2% maximum cross slope and that the actual maximum depends on user type (wheelchair, walker, cane, etc.), length of travel, and other variables. It seems reasonable to allow a +0.5% tolerance for ramp slopes and cross slopes.

1.2.6 When local variations (flatness) in running slope of ramps are measured according to 1.1.13 at least 80% (rounded to the nearest whole number) of the measurements should not exceed an 8.3% slope. The remaining measurements should not exceed a 10% slope.

Allowing a small percentage of localized slopes to exceed 8.3% is based on the allowable slopes in ADA/ABA – AG (2004) for existing buildings of 1:8 (12.5%) for maximum rises of 3 inches and 1:10 (10%) for maximum rises of 6 inches. The 1980 ANSI A117 standard also allowed this with the additional provision that an existing ramp slope of up to 1:8 could have a maximum run of 2 feet (0.6 m). Allowing 20% of local variations to slope up to 10% seems reasonable for a distance of one foot. This would mean that localized dips and high points in a 2 – foot distance would be about ¼ in. (6 mm) or a little less.

1.2.7 When local variations (flatness) for cross slope of ramps are measured according to 1.1.14 at least 80% (rounded to the nearest whole number) should not exceed a 2% slope. The remaining measurements should not exceed a 2.5% cross slope. When four or fewer measurements are made, only one should not exceed a 2.5% cross slope, while the others should not exceed a 2% slope

1.2.8 Exterior stairs, cast – in – place. When cast – in – place exterior stairs are measured according to Section 1.1.17 the requirements of the local building code shall govern tolerances.

California (Building Code) here I come!

February 24, 2011

Normally, I answer questions on this blog, but today I am drudging my way through the accessibility portions, chapters 11A & B, of the California Building Code and I have a few questions:

1. Why did they write this in the first place?
2. What’s with the seemingly random paragraph justification? Is this code, commentary or just good advice?
3. Is it just me or is there unnecessary repetition? For example, 1133B.5.4.4 requires that ramp landings extend 24″ past the strike edge of any door for exterior ramps, but this is an unnecessary requirement since it is covered under the maneuvering clearance requirements for doors.

Sometimes I wonder if the folks in California forget that there is an entire country to the east of them. It’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel, especially if all you can come up with is an oval.