The problem with Kitchens in the 2010 ADA Standards

April 19, 2012

This information is out of date. Refer to RAS Bulletin 2012-01 for more info.

First let’s look at what the Standards say to do:

212.2 Kitchens and Kitchenettes. Kitchens and kitchenettes shall comply with 804.

804.5 Storage. At least 50 percent of shelf space in storage facilities shall comply with 811.

811.3 Height. Storage elements shall comply with at least one of the reach ranges specified in 308.

308.3.1 Unobstructed. Where a clear floor or ground space allows a parallel approach to an element and the side reach is unobstructed, the high side reach shall be 48 inches (1220 mm) maximum and the low side reach shall be 15 inches (380 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground.

Ok, simple enough. 50% of the shelves shall be with 15″ and 48″. And I have been told by the Access-Board that we should measure linear feet of shelves. No problem.

Let’s take a look at a typical breakroom kitchenette with counter-top, sink, dishwasher and storage.

Well, that doesn’t seem to work. I don’t have enough shelf space to make up for the upper cabinets and I’m only counting 2 shelves in the upper cabinets. Let’s try to add a pantry to make this work.

Dangit! 4-1/2′ short. Guess I’ll have to lose even more counter space to get this done.

Now this is just ridiculous. I guess the only way to comply is to have very little vertical clearance at each shelf or eliminate the upper cabinets. Or we could just pretend there is only one shelf in the upper cabinets.

Any ideas?


Swimming Pool access delayed.

April 12, 2012

SUMMARY: By this rule, the Department of Justice is extending the date for compliance with certain requirements in the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) that relate to provision of accessible entry and exit for swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. This final rule, based on a finding of good cause, changes the date for compliance from March 15, 2012, to May 21, 2012 in order to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with these ADA requirements. Some pool owners and operators believed that taking certain steps would always satisfy their obligations under the ADA when in fact those steps would not necessarily result in compliance with the ADA regulations.

DATES: Effective on March 15, 2012, the compliance date for 28 CFR 35.150(b)(1), (b)(2)(ii), and 28 CFR 36.304 (d)(2)(iii) for sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Standards is delayed to May 21, 2012.


There was really no point in delaying this rule. The misunderstanding that they mention in the summary will still be around in 60 days. It will still be there in 10 years.

Unfortunately, the DOJ does not provide black & white answers to questions regarding existing facilities. They say that technical infeasibility and readily achievable are determined on a case by case basis. This is too ambiguous for hotel owners.

The drama continues.

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

Effective date of the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards

December 14, 2011

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) recently announced adoption of the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards. These new Standards are modeled on the 2010 ADA Standards and are mostly identical except for some minor changes.

Unlike the 2010 ADA Standards, TDLR did not allow for a grace period in which compliance is optional. Prior to March 15, 2012 compliance with the 1994 Texas Standards is required. After March 15, 2012 compliance with the 2012 Texas Standards is required.

As we approach the deadline, many architects have been inquiring about specific permit and construction start dates. Here are the specifics from the ADA Standards:

Compliance Date for Title II

If the start date for construction is on or after March 15, 2012, all newly constructed or altered State and local government facilities must comply with the 2010 Standards.  Before that date, the 1991 Standards (without the elevator exemption), the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards may be used for such projects when the start of construction commences on or after September 15, 2010.

Compliance Date for Title III

The compliance date for the 2010 Standards for new construction and alterations is determined by:

  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is certified to be complete by a State, county, or local government;
  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is received by a State, county, or local government, where the government does not certify the completion of applications; or 
  • the start of physical construction or alteration, if no permit is required. 

If that date is on or after March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with the 2010 Standards.  If that date is on or after September 15, 2010, and before March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with either the 1991 or the 2010 Standards.

The specifics for the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards are bit different. First, they do not differentiate between Title II and Title III facilities. Secondly, they left off the bit about “if no permit is required”. From the TDLR website:

Compliance with the 2012 TAS will be required on all buildings and facilities subject to Chapter 469.003 when:

  • the construction project is registered with the Department on or after March 15, 2012 ; or
  • the application for a building permit is issued by a state, county, or local government on or after March 15, 2012; or
  • the commencement of construction begins on or after March 15, 2012.

This would mean that even if a project was permitted prior to March 15, 2012, compliance with the new Standards would be required if construction began after March 15, 2012.  BUT DON”T STOP READING.

I submitted a request to Tech Info for clarification. This was their response:

TDLR RESPONSE TO RAS:  The third bullet point addresses projects that are not required to be registered (such as those that have a construction cost of less than $50,000) or those located in municipalities or cities that do not issue building permits.

Therefore, the 3rd bullet point is only applicable when the project is not being permitted.

Do the 2010 ADA Standards require swimming pool lifts?

September 1, 2011

I got a call from a client who was concerned about a recent mailer from a pool lift manufacturer stating that all bodies of water with greater than 300 linear feet of perimeter are now required to have a pool lift per the new ADA Standards. While there is some truth here, it is quite misleading. As a general rule, you should always be suspicious about regulatory interpretations from a manufacturer that stands to benefit from the regulation.

So, do the 2010 ADA Standards require swimming pool lifts? It depends.

For new construction of a public swimming pool, a pool that is part of a public accommodation (hotel, YMCA, etc.) or other facility that is subject to the ADA, accessible means of entry are required.

242.2 Swimming Pools. At least two accessible means of entry shall be provided for swimming pools. Accessible means of entry shall be swimming pool lifts complying with 1009.2; sloped entries complying with 1009.3; transfer walls complying with 1009.4; transfer systems complying with 1009.5; and pool stairs complying with 1009.6. At least one accessible means of entry provided shall comply with 1009.2 or 1009.3.


1. Where a swimming pool has less than 300 linear feet (91 m) of swimming pool wall, no more than one accessible means of entry shall be required provided that the accessible means of entry is a swimming pool lift complying with 1009.2 or sloped entry complying with 1009.3.

2. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry provided that the accessible means of entry is a swimming pool lift complying with 1009.2, a sloped entry complying with 1009.3, or a transfer system complying with 1009.5.

3. Catch pools shall not be required to provide an accessible means of entry provided that the catch pool edge is on an accessible route.

The Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards provides some clarification on the requirements for existing swimming pools:

“A physical change to a swimming pool which affects or could affect the usability of the pool is considered to be an alteration. Changes to the mechanical and electrical systems, such as filtration and chlorination systems, are not alterations. Exception 2 to section 202.3 permits an altered swimming pool to comply with applicable requirements to the maximum extent feasible if full compliance is technically infeasible. “Technically infeasible” is also defined in section 106.5 of the 2010 Standards.”

An existing swimming pool that is not being altered is not required to be equipped with a lift or other accessible means of entry unless it is considered “readily achievable” to do so.

Disability Awareness Day

July 26, 2011

In honor of the anniversary of the ADA, go check out these proposed guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way:

Draft 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards

May 31, 2011

A draft of the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards, based on the 2010 ADA Standards, is now available for viewing here: