Accessibility as a Customer–Oriented Culture
2011 Update to the Technical Assistance Manual
Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission
State ADA Coordinator’s Office
A Note on this Updated and Expanded Edition ..............................................................................................6
Chapter 1: Introduction .............................................................................................................. 7
I. Federal laws and regulations ...................................................................................................................8
II. Best practices in accessible design........................................................................................................9
III. Application .................................................................................................................................................10
Chapter 2: Overview of Federal Laws ....................................................................................... 11
I. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 ...............................................................................................12
II. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ...............................................................................12
III. Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ...........................................................................................13
IV. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ..........................................................................................14
V. Apply the correct ADA Design Standards ...................................................................................... 17
VI. Putting it all together...............................................................................................................................19
Chapter 3: The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design - and Beyond .............................23
I. The 2010 DOJ Standards ..........................................................................................................................24
II. Program access in existing correctional facilities ............................................................................28
III. Pending federal guidelines and standards ......................................................................................28
IV. Georgia’s mandate for nondiscrimination in employment and services ............................30
V. Universal design .........................................................................................................................................31
Chapter 4: Procurement Considerations .................................................................................. 35
I. Architectural and engineering services ...............................................................................................36
II. Consulting services .....................................................................................................................................37
III. Property lease proposals ........................................................................................................................37
IV. Building products .....................................................................................................................................38
V. Public facility equipment .........................................................................................................................38
VI. Audio-visual equipment .........................................................................................................................39
VII. Printing and signage services ..............................................................................................................39
VIII. IT equipment ............................................................................................................................................39
Chapter 5: Common Errors and Omissions ................................................................................ 41
I. Design and plan review ..............................................................................................................................42
II. 2010 ADA Standards for State and local government. .................................................................44
III. Construction practices ..............................................................................................................................46
Chapter 6: Existing Buildings ..................................................................................................... 49
I. Maintaining accessibility ............................................................................................................................50
II. General alteration requirements ............................................................................................................51
III. Increasing accessibility .............................................................................................................................52
IV. Egress and life safety concerns .............................................................................................................53
V. Historic facilities ...........................................................................................................................................54
Chapter 7: Resources and Appendices ..................................................................................... 57
I. Federal resources ..........................................................................................................................................58
II. State resources .............................................................................................................................................59
III. Other resources ..........................................................................................................................................59
Checklist for Maintaining Accessible Facilities .................................................................................................60
Test Your Knowledge: Answers...............................................................................................................................62
Production, Layout and Editing
United Spinal Association:
Dominic Marinelli - Vice President, Accessibility Services
Kleo J. King - Senior Vice President, Accessibility Services
Andrea Dimech - Senior Graphic Designer
Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission:
Brian Black, BD Black Codes, Inc. - Principal Author
Katy Pando - Director of Communications
University of Georgia Disability Resource Center:
Dr. Karen Kalivoda - Director
David Anderson - Disability Specialist
United Spinal Association:
Andrea Dimech - Senior Graphic Designer
2011 Revision and Update
ADA One, LLC:
Irene Bowen, J.D. - President, ADA One, LLC (Silver Spring, MD)
John H. Catlin, FAIA - Partner, LCM Architects (Chicago, IL)
Koncept Design Studio:
Megan Isom - Senior Account Executive (Production, Layout and Editing)
Michelle Ashman - Graphic Designer (Production, Layout and Editing)
More than 1.4 million individuals with disabilities live and work in Georgia. These citizens may
come into contact with our state government in many different ways: as students at any State of
Georgia university, college or technical college; as visitors to any state-operated career center; as
applicants for or recipients of any required licensing or certification; as applicants for employment
with the State of Georgia; or as visitors to any state park or state facility.
As increasing numbers of people with disabilities participate in civic life, the accessibility of our
state government’s facilities, and specific project activities, is critically important. The goal is
equal opportunity, and access in an integrated setting. Everyone who qualifies to use our state
government’s resources or participate in sponsored activities should be able to do so comfortably
and efficiently. To achieve this goal, our office has developed this manual. Its purpose is two-fold:
(1) Provide design and construction professionals with accurate information about accessibility
requirements to ensure consistent interpretation and application of those requirements in State
Accessibility is a mandate covered in state codes, standards, and regulations. State government
agencies are required to design and build facilities in a manner in which people with disabilities can
access those programs, services, and activities offered. It is critical that design professionals, state
department and agency administrators, construction compliance specialists, procurement officers,
and facility operators understand these basic requirements.
(2) Encourage design and construction professionals to consider ways the built environment can be
designed or adapted with the widest range of users in mind.
Accessibility laws and standards, however, only set minimum standards for accessibility
We ask design and construction professionals to rethink accessibility - not as a legal requirement
or unwanted mandate, but as the direct route to creating a customer-oriented culture that includes
individuals with disabilities and promotes full participation and equal opportunity for everyone.
We challenge designers and builders to move beyond the minimum requirements - and embrace a
concept of universal design that serves everyone’s needs and ensures designed environments that
are functional, safe, and accommodating, while still meeting the highest aesthetic standards.
We hope this manual serves as a helpful tool towards these ends. Our office is ready to work with
you as we build Georgia’s future for everyone.
State ADA Coordinator’s Office, Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission
The first edition of this Technical Assistance Manual was published in July 2009. On September 15,
2010, the U.S. Department of Justice published its revised regulation for Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). This regulation adopted revised, enforceable accessibility
standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“2010 Standards” or “Standards”).
The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements - both scoping and technical - for newly designed
and constructed or altered state government facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by
individuals with disabilities. Adoption of the 2010 Standards also establishes a revised reference
point for state government agencies that choose to make physical changes to existing facilities to
meet their program accessibility requirements.
This updated edition includes information on the new ADA standards, as well as an expanded
section on the ADA’s “program access” requirements applicable to state government.
The State ADA Coordinator’s Office
· Serves as a technical resource to state agencies for the ADA’s Title II general
nondiscrimination requirements, program accessibility, communications and
employment (including the reasonable accommodation process);
· Operates the statewide ADA facility improvements program;
· Assists state agencies in updating, strengthening and enhancing the scope of
self-evaluations and transition plans to ensure compliance with the ADA mandate;
· Conducts general and customized training on ADA topics for state agencies;
· Provides informal technical assistance about the ADA to the general public,
collaborates with local ADA support systems; and
· Increases the visibility of the ADA to help more citizens understand the letter
and the spirit of the law.
The State ADA Coordinator’s Office is a section of the
Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.
State ADA Coordinator’s Office
c/o Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission
270 Washington Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 2140
Atlanta, GA 30334-9007
Phone: 404-657-7313 (General Information & Technical
Our goal is not just to meet - but to exceed - our federal
and state obligations to provide an accessible environment
in state-owned and operated facilities and, in doing so,
to maintain Georgia’s role as a leader in serving the needs
of individuals with disabilities and all people living in or
visiting our state.
Chapter 1: Introduction
The State of Georgia has a long-standing policy to encourage and enable persons with disabilities
to participate fully in the social and economic life of Georgia. Critical to this objective is ensuring
the accessibility of our built environment, a goal first established in our Georgia Accessibility Code.
In 2007, the Georgia State Financing and
Investment Commission (GSFIC) and the
State ADA Coordinator’s Office initiated
the Statewide Facilities Accessibility Project.
Recognizing the state’s leadership role in
ensuring accessible design throughout
Georgia’s public and private sectors, the
State established a comprehensive
Accessibility plan for state-owned and
operated facilities, in order to increase the
accessibility and usability of these facilities
for persons with disabilities.
This Technical Assistance Manual was developed to support and help implement this important
project. This update reflects the 2010 changes to federal regulations under Title II of the ADA,
including the 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards. It also provides an overview of other parts of the
ADA, as well as other statutes, that may apply to or intersect with state buildings and facilities
or services provided in them. It is critical that all parties involved in the design, construction,
alteration, and maintenance of our state facilities understand not only the minimum guidelines and
requirements of our federal and state accessibility mandates, but how those mandates interrelate.
Department and agency administrators, construction compliance specialists, procurement officers,
and facility operators should also understand where and why these minimums can be exceeded
to benefit not only persons with disabilities but all building users—a concept known as “Universal
Design.” Finally, the Accessibility Project and this manual are intended to ensure a consistent
level and quality of accessible design in all state facilities, from our service offices to our historic
attractions, and from our universities to our state parks.
Please note that this manual is a supplement to federal accessibility laws and regulations, Georgia
accessibility law, and the Georgia Accessibility Code. It is not a comprehensive design manual
or legal document, and should not be considered as such. It includes advice and suggestions for
effective implementation of the law and offers information about why access features are needed,
and how these features benefit everyone. This manual has been developed to provide important
information to assist state construction compliance specialists, procurement officials and facility
maintenance personnel in making appropriate and cost-effective decisions.
Facilities constructed, owned, leased, and/or operated by the State of Georgia are subject to the
requirements of Title II of the ADA. The ADA generally states that covered entities are prohibited
from discriminating against persons on the basis of disability, and Title II requires that state and
local governments ensure that their programs, activities, and services, when “viewed in the entirety,”
be accessible to, and usable by, persons with disabilities. The ADA regulations require that
facilities built or altered after March 15, 2012, meet the DOJ 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible
Design, which consist of the 2004 ADAAG and additional provisions. There are other federal
laws, however, that dictate accessible design that are just as important and just as applicable to
state buildings. Understanding those laws and how their nondiscrimination mandates overlay the
requirements of the ADA and our Georgia Accessibility Code is critical to complying with federal
law and — more importantly — making our state facilities usable by all persons and accessible to
those with disabilities.
In addition to the laws passed by Congress, federal agencies have established regulations and
guidelines that are applied in a variety of ways to different state projects. This manual explains
where and when to use the accessibility criteria established by the federal Departments of Justice,
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and others.
The “science of accessibility” is a growing and changing field. The federal Architectural and
Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (known as the “Access Board”) establishes the
“baseline” accessibility guidelines that ultimately find their way into enforceable regulations. For
more than three decades, the Access Board has been adding to our knowledge base on how
to make facilities, and the individual components of those facilities, usable by individuals with
disabilities. Design criteria for accessible judges’ benches in a state courtroom, housing units in a
correctional facility, playgrounds in a state park, swimming pools on a state university campus — all
of these and more have been established and must now be followed when designing, constructing,
and altering state facilities, depending on the dates of construction or alteration. Other elements
and facilities are undergoing review by the Access Board, as it develops guidelines for rights of
way (including streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, and parking), outdoor developed areas, shared use
paths, and medical equipment. They should be reviewed and at least considered during the design,
construction, or alteration of state facilities.1
The private sector model building codes and standards also contain a wealth of accessible design
provisions that can prove invaluable to designers of state facilities. For example, the ADA and
Georgia Accessibility Code require assembly areas to have wheelchair locations that provide lines
of sight “comparable to those for members of the general public,” and the federal government
has interpreted this to include sight lines over standing spectators. How to provide a comparable
line of sight has been specified in the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 (International Code Council/American
National Standards Institute) accessibility standard that is referenced in the 2006 ICC International
Building Code. Designers of assembly areas to be owned or operated by the state would benefit
from this resource.
This manual also explores how accessibility codes and regulations should be considered minimum
specifications, and how exceeding the minimums can benefit not only persons with disabilities but
the public as a whole—again, under the concept of “Universal Design.”
Supplemental guidance is also available from the Access Board at www.access-board.gov.
The Georgia Statewide Facilities Accessibility Project applies not only to new construction and
additions, but to alterations of existing buildings, renovations of historic facilities, maintenance
of accessible features, and modifications to bring the state into compliance with the “program
accessibility” requirements of the ADA or other laws. In addition, this manual reviews state
procurement policies as they relate to accessibility, from establishing a quality design team to
identifying acceptable products to be used in a building. It also looks at on-site construction and
operation practices, from maintaining accessibility during construction and renovation work, and
after work is completed, to identifying common mistakes made in the field that adversely impact
The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission is dedicated to its mission of Building
Georgia’s Future for all Georgians, including our citizens with disabilities. Our Statewide Facilities
Accessibility Project and this Technical Assistance Manual are designed to assist and provide
the necessary resources to those in our state agencies responsible for building and maintaining
Georgia’s infrastructure — from university campuses to service offices and from passenger rail
systems to state parks and historic sites. Our goal is not just to meet - but to exceed - our federal
and state obligations to provide an accessible environment in state-owned and operated facilities
and, in doing so, to maintain Georgia’s role as a leader in serving the needs of individuals with
disabilities and all people living in or visiting our state.
In the building code world, a single version of a code or
standard generally applies to a facility. But when accessibility
is involved, a combination of federal laws and standards may
apply to one project.
Chapter 2: Overview of Federal Laws
Accessibility is one of the few topics in both our Georgia Building Code and the nation’s model
building codes that has an overlay of federal non-discrimination requirements and standards that
must be considered when designing and constructing a building. Unlike other federal mandates
related to energy conservation, safety glazing, or designing flood elevations, accessibility is unique
in its civil rights implications, particularly those reflected by the ADA.
The ADA is only one law to reference when addressing our federal accessibility mandates. In fact,
there are a number of federal laws that include accessible design provisions, all of which must be
considered in the design and construction of state buildings. Some of these also address access to
existing facilities, as well as state services and programs.
The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) generally requires that if federal money is spent to
design, construct, or alter a building, the building must meet certain minimum accessibility
requirements. Additionally, if a federal agency designs, constructs, alters, or leases a building,
it must meet ADA requirements.
The 1968 law referenced the original 1961 ANSI A117.1 standard for the technical requirements
for accessibility. Later, the federal Access Board developed the guidelines which became the 1984
Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) when they were adopted by the federal departments
that issue standards for the ABA:
· Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
· Department of Defense (DOD)
· General Services Administration (GSA)
· United States Postal Service (USPS)
While HUD continues to use UFAS as its ABA standards, the other three agencies have adopted the
Access Board’s 2004 Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (2004 ABAAG).
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that if an entity receives federal funds it cannot
discriminate against persons with disabilities.
Unlike the ABA, section 504 does not cover just situations where the federal dollar is spent on
construction activity. If a state agency receives federal funds, its programs, activities, and services
are covered by Section 504, even though the federal funds are not being directed to building
construction. For example, a Georgia college or university that receives federal funds must ensure
that, when viewed in their entirety, its programs and activities are usable by persons with disabilities.
This is true even if the federal funds that the college receives are used only for student loans and
grant programs. Note that the programs provided by a federal recipient must be accessible. In other
words, a recipient must ensure that no one is subjected to discrimination because its facilities are
inaccessible to or unusable by people with disabilities. This does not necessarily translate to making
all parts of all of the recipient’s existing facilities fully accessible. For example, if a state agency
has offices in an old building with an inaccessible second floor, the agency can arrange to provide
the services offered on that floor in an alternate accessible location as needed, and as appropriate
to the situation. An elevator to that floor is not automatically required. This concept of “program
accessibility” also applies under Title II of the ADA, as further explained in the next section of this
In addition to these program accessibility requirements, all new construction and alterations by
recipients must be accessible. The current regulations, most of which were issued prior to the
1991 ADA Standards and have not yet been modified, say that compliance with UFAS meets those
requirements. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued guidance to federal agencies with section
504 responsibilities urging them to consider the 2010 Standards as an acceptable alternative to
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) was amended in 1988 to add people with disabilities to the categories of
individuals protected by its comprehensive ban on discrimination in the housing market. The HUD
regulations establish certain minimum accessibility standards for new construction of “qualified
multifamily housing.” Qualified multifamily housing is defined as buildings with four or more
housing units and includes the common use areas that serve the covered units. The FHA applies to
all public and private housing providers, including rental as well as condominium units, irrespective
of federal funding.
For these housing units, Congress specified that compliance with the 1986 ANSI A117.1 standard would
constitute compliance with the new construction requirements of the FHA, but that something less
than the 1986 A117.1 standards would also be permitted. The Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines,
published by HUD on March 6, 1991, are intended to define this minimum level of compliance.
As a result, a HUD Fair Housing unit could have interior unit doors that provide no maneuvering
space for someone using a wheelchair and less than the 32-inch clear opening required by the 1986
A117.1. These technical provisions are also less restrictive than the residential access requirements
of Title 30 (30-3-4).
Technical requirements aside, the greatest impact of the FHA is on how these units are scoped (i.e.,
where the technical requirements apply). Generally, within covered buildings served by elevators,
all dwelling units must comply with the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. In covered buildings
without elevators, all ground floor units must comply. The guidelines also apply to long-term
shelters for people who are homeless, most nursing homes and group homes, and dormitories and
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or ADA, is the most comprehensive civil rights law
passed by Congress. It is a broad ban on discrimination against people with disabilities in the public
and private sectors.
Everyone in the design and code enforcement communities knows about the ADA. However, many
may not be aware that the ADA is has several parts, or “Titles.” They are:
II. State and Local Government Activities (including
III. Public Accommodations (including construction
and alterations by private entities)
IV. Telecommunication Relay Services
V. Miscellaneous Provisions
Of these, Titles II and III address building design and construction, and Titles I and II apply to
departments in state government.
The law protects those who are “individuals with disabilities.” An individual with a disability is
defined as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more
major life activities. Such an impairment can include seeing, walking, hearing, feeding oneself,
living independently, or working. Additionally, a person who has a history or record of such an
impairment, or a person who is perceived by others to have such an impairment, is protected by
the ADA. The ADA Amendments Act, which was effective January 1, 2009, makes clear that this
definition has a broad sweep.
Title I prohibits discrimination in employment by entities with 15 or more employees, and all state
and local employers, and requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to an
otherwise qualified employee or applicant. An accommodation may include installing visible alarm
notification appliances for a deaf employee, widening an office doorway for an employee using a
wheelchair, or assisting a blind job applicant with filling out an application. The “reasonableness”
component of Title I has an “undue burden” test that is case-specific and budget-sensitive. For
example, providing a ramp at the employee entrance may be an undue burden for a small employer
with very limited resources, whereas installing an elevator for an employee using a wheelchair could
be reasonable for larger employers with greater financial resources. (Modifications of procedures,
policies, job descriptions, etc. are separate matters not addressed by this manual.)
The decision to make physical modifications for an employee with a disability may not be based
on judgments regarding the value or importance of an employee’s work. For example, the State
Attorney General’s office could not decide that it will modify a bathroom for a staff attorney who
uses a wheelchair, but not for a secretary who uses a wheelchair. Additionally, Title I protects
qualified applicants for employment; a state agency may not make employment decisions regarding
a prospective employee based on the fact that the applicant’s disability may involve accessibility
modifications to the place of employment.
Title I is enforced by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Title II applies to the services and facilities of the state and its political subdivisions. All new
construction and alterations must meet accessibility standards. The State of Georgia is required to
ensure that its programs, activities, and services, when viewed in their entirety, do not discriminate
against individuals with disabilities. In existing buildings, this may involve moving programs or
activities to an accessible level or area, or may involve making alterations to existing facilities,
including modifications to toilet rooms, adding Braille signs to rooms and spaces, or installing an
elevator or platform lift to an inaccessible level or story.
Title II’s “program accessibility” requirement is very similar to that requirement under section
504, as mentioned in the preceding section. Each service, program, or activity of the state, when
viewed in its entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities
unless a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program, or undue financial and administrative
burdens, would otherwise result. Because programs and services are evaluated “in their entirety,”
From the Department of Justice Title II Technical Assistance Manual and 1994 Supplement:
Relationship to Title III. Public entities are not subject to Title III of the ADA, which
covers only private entities. In many situations, however, public entities have a close
relationship to private entities that are covered by Title III, with the result that certain
activities may be at least indirectly affected by both Title II and III.
ILLUSTRATIONS: A privately owned restaurant in a state park operates for the
convenience of park users under a concession agreement with a State department of
parks. As a public accommodation, the restaurant is subject to Title III and must meet
those obligations. The State Department of Parks, a public entity, is subject to Title II.
The parks department is obligated to ensure by contract that the restaurant is operated
in a manner that enables the parks department to meet its Title II obligations, even
though the restaurant is not directly subject to Title II.
The State Highway Authority leases a facility in one of its highway rest areas to a privately
owned restaurant. Because the restaurant is part of the state’s program of providing
services to the motoring public, the state would be responsible for making the space
accessible. The private entity operating the restaurant would have an independent
obligation to meet the requirements of Title III.
public entities have flexibility in addressing accessibility issues. For example, it may not be
necessary to make each of the offices of the Department of Driver Services or the Department of
Family and Children’s Services - or every state library - accessible, if the services offered are, as
a whole, accessible to people with disabilities. Determining which offices to make accessible and
how many should be accessible requires evaluating a number of factors, including the distance
between sites, travel time between sites, the types of services available at each site, available
amenities such as parking and restrooms, translation and interpreter services, business hours, the
characteristics of the community or geographic area served by the office, and public transportation
to the sites. In some instances it may be possible to make the services accessible through means
other than modifications to a facility, such as home visits, moving the services to accessible locations,
or delivery of services elsewhere. The key is providing services, programs, and activities that are
“readily accessible,” that offer an equal and comparable opportunity for persons with disabilities,
and that are carried out in an integrated setting.
Other factors may dictate that all facilities of a certain type are accessible. For example, all facilities
that may be used as emergency shelters should be accessible because of the reality of a disaster or
emergency: People go to a designated shelter for their area, and the shelter that might be expected
to be used may be damaged during the emergency. All state rest areas should also be accessible,
so that people with disabilities traveling the state’s roads and highways are offered equal access to
the restroom, food and drink, and travel information services provided.
The expansion of community health services that began in Georgia in 2011 due to a federal settlement
agreement may also require increased accessibility of certain facilities used in providing a variety of
services to individuals with developmental disabilities. The state will be transitioning all individuals
with developmental disabilities from the state hospitals to community settings and increasing crisis,
respite, family and housing support services to serve individuals with developmental disabilities
in community settings. Because of the higher frequency of physical disabilities among individuals
with developmental disabilities, and because these individuals are more likely to acquire physical
disabilities as they age, the state may be required to ensure that an increased number of the types
of facilities used to provide these services are accessible, under program accessibility requirements.
If a state agency contracts with a private organization (including a nonprofit) to provide services,
the state agency retains the responsibility for ensuring that its program is accessible. For example,
a private, nonprofit corporation may operate a number of group homes under contract with a state
agency for the benefit of individuals with mental disabilities. The state agency must ensure that
its contracts are carried out in accordance with Title II and that the state’s program as a whole is
accessible. (As suggested in the prior paragraph, this does not mean that all the group homes must
be accessible.) Similarly, if a state agency has another type of close business relationship with a
private entity such as a restaurant, as described in the illustration on this page, it must ensure that
the private entity acts in a way that is consistent with the state’s responsibilities.
Keep in mind that these “program accessibility” requirements are separate from the new construction
and alterations requirements, which must also be met for those facilities to which they apply.
Title III contains accessibility requirements that apply to design and construction in the private
sector, and thus is not generally applicable to the State of Georgia. While its technical criteria are
generally the same as those applied to Title II facilities, Title III includes exceptions for religious
entities and private clubs, as well as an “elevator exception” for most two story buildings. (Note that
the Georgia Accessibility Code does not exempt religious entities like churches and synagogues.)
State officials should be aware of the Title III requirements for two reasons:
1. Designers are most familiar with these provisions, and may rely on the Title III elevator
exception2 when developing plans for state facilities. This is not appropriate in Title II
construction, and a two-story office building that may not need an elevator when built for
a private sector insurance company would most likely require an elevator when built for a
State agency. It is the state agency’s responsibility to ensure that the Title II requirements
2. State agencies may lease space in their Title II properties to businesses that are regulated
by Title III. For example, a student union at a state university may include space leased
to a private concessionaire or restaurant chain; the operator of this facility is subject to
the Title III accessibility requirements (as well as the Georgia Accessibility Code). In such
cases, the responsibility for providing accessible elements and spaces may be allocated
in the lease. The lease may say that the restaurant chain is responsible for installing
accessible countertops and dining surfaces, and that the university is responsible for
providing an accessible route to the leased space and accessible toilet rooms serving that
portion of the building. Regardless of the lease provisions, a state (Title II) entity cannot
obviate its responsibility to comply with the law and regulations.
The federal Access Board develops and publishes the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility
Guidelines, and the binding regulations that DOJ and DOT issue must be at least as stringent as the
guidelines. Congress specified that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would establish the Standards
for Accessible Design that apply to the vast majority of public and private sector buildings and
facilities designed, constructed, and altered under the act. DOJ did so in 1991 by adopting the 1991
ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) published by the federal Access Board. DOJ made a number
of amendments to the Standards in 1994, based on changes to ADAAG, mostly with respect to
reach ranges for accessible automated teller machines.
The Georgia Accessibility Code is based on, and generally consistent with, the 1991/1994 DOJ
Standards for Accessible Design.
As stated above, in 2004 the Access Board published a new ADAAG (2004 ADAAG) that is similar to
the accessibility requirements of the International Code Council (ICC) model building codes (IBC)
DOJ elevator exceptions are as follows: ADA Title III Regulations 36.401(d), 1991 Standards 4.1.3(5), exception 1, 2010 Standards 206.2.3 Exception 1.
For more information, see footnote 3 on page 18.
and the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 standard for accessible
buildings and facilities.
In 2010, DOJ issued the first major revisions to the
1991/1994 Title II and Title III regulations, with new
accessibility standards - the “2010 Standards.” As
required by law, the 2010 Standards are consistent
with the Access Board’s guidelines; in fact, the 2010
Standards include the Access Board’s 2004 ADAAG in
its entirety. Compared to the 2004 ADAAG, some of the
2010 technical provisions are more restrictive and some
of the scoping provisions are broader. Some areas (e.g., courthouses, corrections, and recreation
facilities) are covered by specific and detailed standards for the first time. DOJ also included
additional technical and scoping provisions as part of the 2010 Standards. As of March 15, 2012,
new construction of, and alterations to, buildings owned and operated by the State of Georgia
must comply with DOJ’s 2010 Standards.3
Congress also specified, however, that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) had regulatory
authority under the ADA, including the responsibility to establish accessibility standards for entities
under its purview. DOT regulations have technical specifications for rail stations and accessible
busses and rail cars, but the DOT regulations also apply to transit stations and other transportation
facilities. In late 2006, DOT also adopted 2004 ADAAG as its standards.
In some respects, the DOT accessibility standards
are different from those of DOJ and the Georgia
Accessibility Code. The result is that state departments
and agencies subject to the DOT regulations for the
ADA (like the Georgia Department of Transportation)
have to meet an accessibility standard that is different
in some ways from the standard that applies to State
agencies regulated by DOJ.4 (see page 19 for footnote 4)
Most significantly, the DOT standards and DOJ’s 2010 Standards are often more restrictive than the
requirements of the Georgia Accessibility Code, and reliance on our code can result in violations of
the DOT and DOJ regulations. For example, while DOJ’s 1991/1994 Standards and the state code
permit accessible controls and operating mechanisms to be located 54 inches above the floor, the
2010 Standards limit the reach to 48 inches maximum. Elevator controls in some buildings will need
audible indicators to signal floor locations. Fire alarms will have to comply with the 1999 or 2002
edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 72, with some exceptions. Accessible
means of egress will need to comply with the ICC’s International Building Code.
Prior to September 15, 2010, the DOJ required compliance with either the 1984 Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) or its 1991/1994
Standards, except that the elevator exception that the Standards provide for Title III public accommodations does not apply to state facilities. (The
Georgia Accessibility Code implicitly reflects this in 120-3-20.08, exception 1 by stating the elevator exception does not apply to “...another type of
facility as determined by the U.S. Attorney General.” The U.S. Attorney General does not provide an elevator exception for state facilities regulated by
Title II.) New construction and alterations carried out between September 15, 2010, and March 15, 2012, can be consistent with either of these two
standards (with the same exception) or the 2010 Standards
The federal Access Board published on its website a comparative analysis of the 2004 ADAAG,
the 1991/1994 DOJ Standards for Accessible Design, and the 2003 International Building Code
and 2004 Supplement (www.access-board.gov). Additionally, the State ADA Coordinator’s Office
has completed a comparative analysis of the Georgia Accessibility Code with the 1991 ADA
Standards and 2010 ADA Standards, which can be found at http://web01.spo.ga.gov/ADA/GA%20
The state anticipates updating the Georgia State Accessibility Code to encompass DOJ’s 2010
ADA Standards prior to March 15, 2012. Until the changes are adopted, Georgia departments
and agencies subject to those regulations should review the new DOJ Standards (1) to determine
which of the new more restrictive provisions must be applied to a project and (2) to understand the
new scoping and technical requirements for facilities and elements not covered by the 1991/1994
Standards or the Georgia Accessibility Code.5 For example, state office buildings should be
constructed with controls and operating mechanisms no higher than 48 inches (2010 Standards)
even though 54-inch-high controls were permitted under the 1991/1994 federal standards (and
under the Georgia code). Access to swimming pools must be provided using the new 2010 criteria,
even though the 1991/1994 Standards do not address this issue. Making these careful decisions
will allow the state to avoid having to retrofit its facilities to provide the program accessibility and
reasonable accommodations requirements of the ADA for Title II entities at a later date.
In the building code world, a single version of a code or standard generally applies to a facility.
But when accessibility is involved, a combination of federal laws and standards may apply to one
project. For example, in a jurisdiction that has adopted the 2006 International Building Code, the
requirements in the 2000 edition of the code are no longer in effect. With federal law, all federal
standards and requirements must be considered, and the most restrictive provisions of each must
be applied to a particular project. Fortunately, with adoption of the 2004 ADAAG as part of DOJ’s
2010 Standards, and adoption by GSA of 2004 ABAAG, which has closely similar technical and
scoping provisions, it is less complicated to apply the correct provisions as of March 15, 2012.
As an example, a married students’ housing project with 12 housing units is being constructed
at a state university after March 14, 2012, using funds from the U.S. Department of Education. A
private entity will provide day care (not limited to children of residents) at the site. (The applicable
accessibility provisions are indicated in parentheses).
· The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) applies because federal dollars are being spent
on construction of the project. (For the housing units and common areas provided for
residents’ use, the HUD ABA Standards, which are currently UFAS. For the areas that are
DOT’s ADA standards, unlike the 2010 DOJ Standards and 2004 ADAAG, include (1) a requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps (406.8),
(2) language about minimizing travel distance along accessible routes for people who use wheelchairs and other persons who cannot negotiate
steps, compared to the general public, (3) at bus boarding and alighting areas, a requirement to comply with dimensions to the extent construction
specifications are within a public entity’s control, and (4) as to rail station platforms, reinstatement of language from the original standards concerning
platform and vehicle floor coordination.
Some of the scoping and technical provisions in the 2010 Standards are less restrictive or less stringent than those in the 1991/1994 Standards
and the Georgia Code
not solely for residents, such as the day care center, the 2006 ABA Accessibility Standards
adopted by the General Services Administration, incorporating 2004 ABAAG.)
· The Department of Education’s (D.Ed.) Section 504 regulations will also apply because of
federal funding. Section 504 will apply to the entire project, including the housing facilities
and the common use building used to house a federally-funded day care program, not
limited to residents. (UFAS or 1991/1994 ADA Standards, until D.Ed. adopts the 2010
· The Fair Housing Act (FHA) accessibility requirements will apply to the design and
construction of the multifamily dwellings, including the common areas, because each
building contains more than four units. (Fair Housing Act.)
· Because the project is to be owned and operated by the state, the ADA will impose
additional requirements on the common areas and on a percentage of the apartment
units. Five percent of the units must comply with the mobility accessibility requirements
and two percent must comply with the communication accessibility requirements. (2010
· Title II of the ADA will cover the facility and the private entity that provides the day
care program because the center is a place of public accommodation that is available to
parents in the community and is operated by a private entity or nonprofit. (2010 ADA
In this case, five separate federal accessibility laws would apply to this project. Additionally, the
Georgia Accessibility Code is applicable.
1. A university dormitory project funded solely by the
state is not subject to .
A. The Georgia Accessibility Code
B. The Architectural Barriers Act
C. The Fair Housing Amendments Act
D. The Americans with Disabilities Act
2. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 applies to multifamily
A. built with federal funds
B. built by recipients of federal funds
C. built with private sector funds
D. all of the above
3. Title II of the ADA applies to
A. private sector employees
B. state governments
C. public accommodations
D. commercial facilities
4. A national fast food chain operating in space leased in a state facility
is subject to Title of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
5. The ADA Accessibility Standards are enforced by
A. local code officials
B. the federal Access Board
C. the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
D. the U.S. Department of Justice
6. Title II requires program access
A. to services for all state departments
B. to services carried out by contractors on behalf of the state
C. that offers equal opportunity in an integrated setting
D. all of the above
Answers can be found on page 62.
In publishing the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility
Guidelines, the federal Access Board advanced almost
a quarter of a century in the “science of accessibility.”
The federal ABA and ADA Standards, now revised to
incorporate the 2004 Guidelines, have been substantially
harmonized with the access provisions developed by
the International Code Council’s International Building
Code (IBC) and ANSI A117.1, 2003.
Chapter 3: The ADA Standards for Accessible Design and Beyond
This chapter offers further details about the changes from the 1991/1994 ADA Standards to the
2010 ADA Standards, in light of the need to comply with both the ADA Standards and the Georgia
Code (pending the updates to the current state standards, 120-3-20, to meet and encompass the
new federal requirements). It also suggests ways in which it may sometimes be necessary or good
practice to “go beyond” what is specified in the Georgia Code or the federal Standards.
The DOJ 2010 Standards include two types of provisions: those
from the Access Board’s 2004 ADAAG, and those that DOJ added
to address specific types of facilities and to explain how the
specifications in ADAAG otherwise apply to buildings and
facilities subject to the ADA. It is important to understand both
types of provisions.
In publishing the 2004 ADAAG, the federal Access Board
Advanced almost a quarter of a century in the “science of
accessibility.” The federal ABA and ADA Standards, now revised
to incorporate the 2004 Guidelines, have been substantially
harmonized with the access provisions developed by the
International Code Council’s International Building Code (IBC)
and ANSI A117.1, 2003.
Buildings and facilities that are owned and operated by the State of Georgia should reflect these
advances in order to ensure compliance with the ADA Standards, even before they are included in
the Georgia Code.
As one of the examples of the significant changes to some technical provisions, the 1991/1994
ADAAG and ADA Standards (and the Georgia Accessibility Code) permit accessible controls
and operating mechanisms to be located as high as 54 inches maximum above finished floor in
some situations. 2004 ADAAG and the 2010 Standards reduce the maximum height to 48 inches.
This requirement is identified as a “building block” in the new ADAAG because it is referenced
throughout the document and applies to everything from elevator controls to storage facilities, light
switches to telephones.
Using this one provision of 2004 ADAAG not only makes a building more usable for persons
with disabilities, it may prevent expensive retrofits ten years from now when an employee needs
lowered controls as a reasonable accommodation.
It is not possible to review all of the technical changes between the old and new ADAAG requirements
in this manual; a complete analysis would be hundreds of pages long.6 However, major changes
were made to the following:
A side-by-side comparison of 2004 ADAAG and the 1991/1994 DOJ Standards for Accessible Design (including old ADAAG) is available at
www.access-board.gov or www.iccsafe.org
· Reach ranges
· Platform (wheelchair) lifts
· Accessible means of egress
· Parking spaces
· Drinking fountains
· Water closet clearances
· Water closet location
· Shower compartments
· Alarm systems
· Automatic teller machines
· Assembly areas
· Residential units
· Children’s environments.7
Please note an important change between 1991 and 2004 ADAAG: 2004 ADAAG includes some
instances — particularly in its scoping provisions (Chapter 2) — where the accessibility requirements
have been revised or lowered. For example, the new ADAAG lowers the number of wheelchair
locations required in large assembly areas, but only because it would not affect the usability of
the space by persons with disabilities. It effectively “tweaked” the requirements in the 1991/1994
guidelines that are now considered to exceed demand. Examples include:
· Wheelchair location requirements are reduced in assembly areas with capacities over
3,000, from 1 location for every 100 seats to 1 for every 150; after 5,000 seats, the
ratio drops to 1:200;
· The requirement for assistive listening devices at a constant 4 percent of the capacity of
an assembly occupancy was changed to a “sliding scale” approach, similar to the way that
wheelchair spaces are regulated;
· Where toilet rooms are clustered in a single location (e.g., in a doctor’s office or a drug
testing facility) only 50 percent, instead of 100 percent, of the rooms are required to
The Georgia Accessibility Code includes requirements for accessible children’s environments that are based on a draft amendment to 1991/1994
ADAAG. Those provisions underwent numerous revisions before they were included in the 2004 ADAAG.
It is anticipated that these “reductions” will be incorporated into the Georgia Code; until that time,
those subject to the Code are not permitted to avail themselves of these “reductions” even though
they are included in the 2010 Standards.
In addition to changes to some of the 1991/1994 technical provisions, the 2004 ADAAG and/or 2010
DOJ Standards include more specific provisions for courtrooms and detention and correctional
facilities, and they cover recreational facilities for the first time. Following are some examples of the
types of new provisions.
· Each courtroom must be accessible. Jury boxes, witness stands, and jury deliberation
areas must be accessible.
· Raised areas must have wheelchair turning spaces [808.2];
· At least one clear floor space that can accommodate a wheelchair must be provided in
jury boxes and witness stands [808.3];
· An assistive listening system must be provided, regardless of whether an audio
amplification system is provided [219.2].
For many years, Georgia’s state correctional
facilities have been subject to the Uniform Federal
Accessibility Standards (UFAS), which require all
common use spaces to be accessible and five
percent of the residential units to be accessible.
The 2010 Standards, however, specify a number
of different or additional requirements for
the design, construction, and alteration of
· In new construction, at least three percent of cells must be accessible for persons with
mobility disabilities [DOJ Title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. §35.151(k)] (and two percent must
be accessible for those with communication impairments (e.g., deaf or hard-of-hearing
inmates) [ADAAG 232.2.2];
· Where special holding cells or special housing cells are provided, at least one of each type
provided must be accessible [232.3];
· Accessible bedrooms or cells must be provided in prison health care facilities [232.4].
The following are now covered, with specific scoping
and technical provisions [234-243 and Chapter 10]:
· Amusement rides
· Boating facilities
· Fishing piers and platforms
· Exercise machines and equipment
· Golf and miniature golf facilities
· Play areas
· Saunas and steam rooms
· Swimming and wading pools
· Recreational shooting facilities
As mentioned above, the 2010 Standards include more than the provisions in 2004 ADAAG. It
is important to read ADAAG with the provisions that DOJ added, to address specific types of
facilities and to explain how the specifications in ADAAG otherwise apply to buildings and facilities
subject to the ADA. The following are some examples of the provisions in the DOJ sections on new
construction and alterations that must be examined in conjunction with 2004 ADAAG.
The “path of travel” provisions that have applied to Title III of the ADA since 1991 now apply to
Title II facilities as well. This means that when a public entity alters a primary function area, such
as a courtroom, hearing room, or assembly area, it must also ensure that, to the maximum extent
feasible, the path of travel to the altered area and the restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains
serving the area are accessible. DOJ specifies that the costs of providing the additional accessibility
on the path of travel need not exceed 20 percent of the cost of the alterations to the primary
function area, and adds further detail about how the costs are calculated. 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(b)
(4)(i). These provisions do not apply if alterations are undertaken solely for purposes of program
For the first time, the Title II Standard establishes design requirements for residential dwelling units
built by or on behalf of public entities with the intent that the finished units will be sold to individual
owners. 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(j).
The Department of Justice has also for the first time addressed how the standards apply to
dormitories and other types of residential housing provided in an educational setting (28 C.F.R. §
35.151(f)). The DOJ regulations also include more details than are included in 2004 ADAAG about
wheelchair and companion seating in assembly areas (28 C.F.R. § 35.151(g)), as well as additional
provisions about medical care facilities (§ 35.151(h)).
As explained in Chapter 2, Section IV, (pages 21-23) title II of the ADA applies not only to new
construction and alterations but also to existing facilities in which programs or activities are offered.
In its 2010 regulations, DOJ for the first time imposes specific requirements for program access
in existing correctional facilities. These include community correctional facilities and those that
are operated through arrangements with private entities. For example, public entities are to make
physical changes to cells according to the 2010 Standards, in order to ensure that each inmate
with a disability is housed in a cell with the accessible elements necessary to afford the inmate
access to safe, appropriate housing. In addition, inmates or detainees are to be housed in the most
integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individuals, with attention to such factors as
security classifications and the opportunity for visitation with family member.
The Georgia Accessibility Code specifies that its purpose is to provide “….the minimum standard
for Accessibility to buildings and facilities….” Too often, this concept of “minimum” may get lost,
if designers approach our state and federal accessibility requirements with the goal of simply
complying with the requirements found on the page — ramps designed with a slope of 1:12 and
not 1:14, accessible parking spaces at the exact number specified in a table and no more, or only
one accessible lavatory per toilet room, regardless of the number of people the facility is designed
At best, this approach can lead to buildings and facilities that may technically comply with the
applicable accessibility requirements but are unusable8 or dysfunctional for persons with disabilities.
At worst, it can result in a violation of the ADA or create future problems for building owners like
the State of Georgia that are subject to Title II of the ADA and other nondiscrimination laws. For
example, a building not equipped with automatic doors may technically comply with the ADA
Standards, but if persons with disabilities can’t open the door and enter the building, a violation
of Title II’s program accessibility requirements will result if people need access to the building to
benefit from the programs or access the services offered there.
In addition to these established guidelines, the reports and guidelines under development by the
Access Board and DOJ should be consulted about various types of facilities. The Board’s proposed
For example, state and federal requirements permit an accessible ramp with an 8.33 percent slope and with a maximum rise of 30 inches per ramp
run. Research indicates that over 40 percent of persons in a study using a manual wheelchair could not negotiate the resulting 30 foot incline.
Moreover, there is no limit on the total vertical rise that can be served by a ramp system with a series of compliant ramp runs and landings. A ramp
serving the second story of a building may comply with the regulations, but would be unusable by virtually all people who use manual wheelchair
guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way, issued in July 2011, are discussed
below. The Access Board is also developing guidelines for shared use paths, medical equipment,
and federal trails and other outdoor areas such as campsites. The Department of Justice has begun
preliminary development of standards for equipment and furniture, ranging from accessible medical
exam tables and golf cars to “talking” ATM’s and interactive kiosks.
Proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian
facilities in the public right-of-way were published
by the Access Board in the Federal Register in July
2011. Once issued as final guidelines, they would
then become the ABA and/or ADA standards if
adopted by a federal standard-setting agency.
Pending the Board’s issuance of its final guidelines,
the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in
2006 recommended use of the Board’s 2005
draft guidelines as best practices, even though
some of the proposals remain controversial
(e.g., providing pedestrian signals in a roundabout).
The Georgia Department of Transportation is the agency in our state most directly affected by the
proposed requirements and the FHWA decision to treat the 2005 draft as “best practices.” Some of the
elements addressed, however, can also be found at facilities controlled by other state agencies. Most
state offices have curb ramps connecting accessible parking with building entrances. Pedestrian signals
are located at intersections on university campuses. Consistency in the construction of state buildings
and properties should compel designers to review the draft and proposed guidelines and apply the
technical criteria they deem appropriate.
The 2011 proposed public rights-of-way guidelines
include the following:
· Pedestrian routes
· Maintaining access during construction
· Pedestrian crossings
· On-street parking
· Curb ramps
· Detectable warnings
· Accessible pedestrian signals
· Crossings at roundabouts
· Street furniture (drinking fountains, toilets,
From the DOJ Title II Technical
Assistance Manual, 1994 Supplement:
Q: What if neither ADAAG nor UFAS contain specific standards for a
particular type of facility?
A: In such cases the technical requirements of the chosen standard should be applied to the
extent possible. If no standard exists for a particular feature, those features need not comply
with a particular design standard. However, the facility must still be designed and operated to
meet other Title II requirements, including program accessibility.
There is a common misconception about the ADA (and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973) among designers and operators of state and local government facilities. Many believe that
compliance with the appropriate new construction standards at the time of construction means
that the property and its owner will remain in compliance with the law as long as the minimum
accessibility required by the standards/guidelines is maintained. This is not the case.
Simply stated, the State of Georgia and its agencies are obligated to provide reasonable
accommodations to employees and access to persons with disabilities using state programs and
services. (See more about this above, in sections II and IV of Chapter 2.) Additionally, the state is
required to accommodate employees and prospective employees with disabilities. Doing so may
mean incorporating building features that exceed the minimum requirements of the standards.
Here are two examples:
· An employee of the Georgia Department of Agriculture finds she cannot open the heavy
exterior door to her new office building. The building was constructed to comply with
the ADA Standards, which do not require automatic doors. Nonetheless, the Department
would be required to install an automatic door on a building entrance to accommodate
this employee. Installing automatic doors may also be required where members of the
general public with disabilities need to access a program or service provided by the state
in a building equipped with heavy entrance doors.
· Similarly, a state inmate with a mobility disability may require a trapeze or grab bars in
order to transfer between his wheelchair and a bed, which is necessary to accessibility
of the prison’s housing program. This equipment must be provided under the program
accessibility and equal opportunity requirements of Title II, even if there are no specific
standards requiring it in new construction or alterations. (This example also highlights the
importance of equipment in accessing a program or facility.)
In other words, compliance with the minimum federal accessibility requirements does not constitute
a defense against subsequent complaints or requests for accessibility modifications. The fact that
the current federal standards do not require automatic doors, for example, does not indemnify the
state from having to make further access alterations to its facilities.
When it adopted 2004 ADAAG as part of its ADA Standards, the U.S. Department of Transportation added requirements for detectable warnings at
curb ramps that permitted the use of truncated dome patterns that complied with the draft public right-of-way provisions.
To the extent that designers improve on the minimum accessibility requirements of federal law by
adding automatic doors, increasing the number of accessible building entrances, or providing more
space in an employee break or toilet room, future alterations and accessibility modifications may
Universal design (UD) is often defined as the
design of products and environments to be
usable by all people, to the greatest extent
possible, without the need for adaptation or
specialized design. It is generally accepted
that this concept was developed by Ron
Mace, FAIA at North Carolina State University
during the 1980’s. Universal design is not a
code or standard but seeks to incorporate
the ideas of barrier-free design into the
mainstream of construction practices. For
example, minimum accessibility requirements state that a person using a wheelchair must be able
to enter a building. That entrance could be served by a set of stairs and a ramp. Universal design
seeks to integrate building elements and users so that all people use the same element the same
way. A universally designed entrance would be designed in such a way that the steps would not be
Here is another example: The State of Maryland constructed a new Visitors’ Center and rest stop
near its border with Pennsylvania. While the ADA (and state building code) required one lavatory in
the men’s and women’s toilet rooms to be accessible, the state and designer opted to make all eight
lavatories accessible. Installed in a single counter, each had the requisite height, knee space, and
accessible controls. The result was not only aesthetically pleasing, but easier to maintain because
there were no “special” faucets on an accessible fixture and the entire counter was a single piece
at an accessible height.
Universal Design not only simplifies design and construction by making accessibility the norm, it
also benefits building owners and operators once the facility is occupied. For example, because
everyone enters the building the same way, there is no need to worry that the accessible entrance
is maintained and remains unlocked.
Of course, the immediate benefit of Universal Design is for persons with disabilities, but the concept
is that all building occupants benefit. Delivery personnel and office workers carrying boxes of files
enter a building through accessible doors with automatic door openers without having to struggle
with inaccessible revolving doors. Parents pushing strollers use the accessible entrances to state
buildings and the accessible routes in our state parks. Levered hardware on all doors - and not just
those required to be accessible - is more usable for everyone.
There are no codes, standards, or legal requirements that stipulate what constitutes Universal
Design. Rather, it is an approach or philosophy that should be incorporated in the design of state
Conversely, Universal Design is not a substitute for accessibility as prescribed by our state and
federal laws. Visible notification appliances on building fire alarm systems serve only that minority
of persons who cannot hear the audible alarms, and Grade 2 Braille (contracted Braille) on building
signs can only be read by a minority of persons who are blind or visually impaired. These features
alone are not “universal,” but they are nonetheless required to ensure that Georgia does not
discriminate against persons with disabilities.
Universal Design should be used as an overlay on the design of buildings that already comply with
the basic accessibility requirements of the ADA and Georgia Accessibility Code. If 50 percent of a
facility’s entrances are required to be accessible and their features make the building more “user
friendly” for everyone, perhaps every entrance should be accessible if it can be accomplished.10 If a
wheelchair accessible water closet compartment in a public toilet room benefits a parent assisting
a small child or a traveler with suitcases in an airport, it may make sense to have more of the
accessible compartments than just the one required by law. Owners and operators of buildings in
the State of Georgia, and the professionals who design these facilities, should incorporate this “best
practice” concept in our properties.
The Georgia Accessibility Code, Section 120-3-20.08(8) requires all primary entrances to be accessible.
7. The 2010 ADA Standards
A. include the 2004 ADAAG (ADA Accessibility Guidelines)
B. include provisions developed and issued by DOJ
C. apply to new construction beginning March 15, 2012, or after
D. all the above
8. The 2010 ADA Standards specify that
percent of correctional facility cells
must be accessible for people with communication impairments.
9. The Access Board has established final accessibility guidelines for all
of the following except
A. amusement rides
B. camping facilities
C. miniature golf facilities
D. swimming pools
10. Prior to March 15, 2012, and pending state updates to
the Georgia code,
Georgia departments and agencies subject to DOJ’s regulations should follow
DOJ’s 2010 regulations
A. unless they allow “reductions” in accessibility from Georgia’s code
B. where they provide new requirements for types of facilities
C. along with other applicable requirements
D. all of the above.
11. Universal Design should be applied to
A. historic properties
B. medical facilities
C. state university buildings
D. all of the above
Answers can be found on page 62.
Procurement of equipment and services prior to
and during the construction process is a key aspect
of ensuring that buildings and facilities owned and
operated by the State of Georgia are accessible to
persons with disabilities.
Chapter 4: Procurement Considerations
Procurement of equipment and services prior to and during the construction process is a key aspect
of ensuring that buildings and facilities owned and operated by the State of Georgia are accessible
to persons with disabilities. The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission and its
Procurement Services Department have identified a number of goods and services that need to be
procured from vendors and contractors when developing and maintaining state properties, some
of which are critical in the field of barrier-free design. The GSFIC Procurement Services Division is
available to serve as a resource providing technical assistance and support on matters related to the
procurement of goods and services.
Choosing an appropriate design team is essential to the success of a project, and finding a team
that has competence in accessible design is just as important as having architects, engineers,
and interior designers that can adequately address means of egress, structural integrity, and fire
When considering design professionals, procurement officials should base their selection on
the design professionals demonstrated competence and qualifications and should consider the
· Has the team demonstrated proficiency in applying the Georgia Accessibility Code?
· Does the team demonstrate an understanding of those federal laws that regulate
accessibility and apply to the project?
· Can the designers articulate where federal laws may impose more restrictive
requirements than those in the state code?
· Are the designers aware of proposed guidelines or requirements that may apply to the
particular aspects of the project (e.g., accessibility provisions for an outdoor developed
area such as a camp ground, or curb ramps in public rights of way)?
· Do team members have a basic understanding of the technical changes found in the 2004
ADAAG (now part of the 2010 ADA Standards) and how they may affect the design of a
· For Georgia projects subject to the U.S. Department of Transportation ADA regulations,
are the designers proficient in DOT’s 2006 accessibility requirements that will apply to the
· Have the design professionals demonstrated instances where they have exceeded the
minimum state or federal accessibility requirements in a facility design?
· Has any member of the design team been subject to an investigation or lawsuit for
violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, section 504, or the
Architectural Barriers Act?
If the cost of the project or the costs of professional design services to be provided in conjunction
with the project exceed the amounts established by law requiring the services of a consultant (i.e.,
architect, professional engineer, landscape architect, land surveyor, interior designer), a registered
consultant shall be engaged to provide design services. Selection of the consultant shall be in
accordance with the selection process in Section 50-22 of the Code of Georgia.
There are some projects where hiring an accessibility consultant may be warranted. Large assembly
areas, state residential facilities, state prisons, performing arts spaces, and recreational facilities are
projects that may demand a detailed understanding of accessibility requirements that design firms
may not bring to the table.
Accessibility consultation includes different types of expertise. One type is use-group based. There
are specialists in the design of apartment complexes or dormitories, and experts in assembly spaces
who can make sure that a theater or outdoor performing arts center has appropriate locations
for persons who use wheelchairs. Conversely, some accessibility consultants are proficient in
determining whether a facility complies with applicable state and federal codes and regulations but
cannot design buildings, and other design specialists are registered architects or engineers who can
meet the technical specifications for a fantastic playground complex for children with disabilities
but are less conversant in the safety aspects of the code. It is important to determine what type of
expertise is needed in a given project before contracting with a consultant who lists accessibility as
an area of expertise.
Retaining an accessibility consultant demands just as much diligence as is given to contracting for
other services. There is no such thing as a “Certified ADA Consultant.” The International Code
Council (ICC), however, does have a certification for “Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner” that
indicates proficiency in the accessibility requirements of the International Building Code (IBC) and
the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 accessibility standard.
The State of Georgia and its agencies are obligated under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that their programs, activities, and services, “when viewed in their
entirety,” are accessible to persons with disabilities. Property lease proposals must be weighed
with this in mind, and agencies are encouraged to look for the most accessible space available.
Specifically, agencies should attempt to find space that at least complies with the standards the
federal government applies to its own leases. The space should have (1) an accessible route from
an accessible entrance to the areas where the primary activities for which the building was leased
take place; (2) accessible toilet facilities; and (3) accessible parking facilities, if parking is included
within the lease.
Keep in mind that access must be provided to programs conducted in leased space. Thus the
more accessible the space is when it is leased, the easier and less costly it will be to make those
programs available to individuals with disabilities (and to ensure reasonable accommodations for
employees who made need them, if the accommodations involve physical access). If the space is
not accessible, the services provided there must be available at a nearby accessible property. This is
especially critical in our state’s rural areas, where an accessible state service may be miles and not
blocks away. Traveling thirty miles to the closest accessible state agency office may be inconvenient
to some in our rural counties but impossible for some people with disabilities. Because of this, the
accessibility of a building being considered for leasing by the state should be a high priority, if not
Those involved in the procurement process should understand that there are no federal agencies
that evaluate building products for compliance with the ADA accessibility standards, despite some
manufacturers’ claims to the contrary. In the model code world, there is no evaluation service that
examines or test products for compliance with the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 accessibility standard.
Determining whether a product complies is the responsibility of the design professional and the
state agency having enforcement authority.
Another fallacy is that the International Symbol of Accessibility indicates that a product is accessible
when it appears on a brochure or data sheet. Again, no agency regulates the use of this symbol.
As with building materials, building equipment must
be reviewed for compliance with the applicable
accessibility requirements and the standards referenced
by the regulations. A label of “accessible” or “complies
with the ADA” does not necessarily mean that the
equipment complies with the requirements.11
For example, a platform (wheelchair) lift that is
marketed nationwide as a compliant lift for use as a
witness stand and for access to a judge’s bench may
not meet the applicable suspension and safety requirements of the ASME A17.1 Elevator Safety
Code referenced by the ADA regulations. Beyond the question of whether this equipment can
meet the technical requirements of these referenced standards, the State of Georgia should not risk
exposure to possible liability by permitting the use of equipment that violates nationally-recognized
consensus safety standards and codes.
Evacuation chairs are another product that deserves particular attention. While neither federal nor
state regulations require the use of these devices, many facility owners will include them as part of
a life safety/evacuation plan.
Unfortunately, there are currently no safety or performance standards for evacuation chairs, and
some on the market are little better than folding lawn chairs with wheels. Procurement officials
Generally, only “fixed” equipment is covered by the 2010 Standards. The Department of Justice has proposed to issue standards for furniture and
other equipment. See its notice at http://www.ada.gov/anprm2010/equipment_anprm_2010.htm
should look for devices with brake systems and rolling tracks or treads that allow the operator to
safely guide the device down or up the stairs. Some have seats in which to strap the person being
evacuated, while some will carry a person while he or she remains in the wheelchair. For more
information on this topic, please contact the State ADA Coordinator’s Office.
The Georgia Accessibility Code, ADA, Section 504 and Architectural
Barriers Act require assistive listening systems for hard-of-hearing
persons in certain assembly applications. Contracts for the
installation of audiovisual equipment should include these systems
where warranted, and the contractor should be able to demonstrate
an understanding of the different types of systems and which type
would be appropriate.
State and federal accessibility requirements include provisions for building signs that are accessible
to persons who are blind or visually impaired. The requirements include visible signs that meet
certain size, contrast and font requirements. Signs that identify permanent rooms or spaces have
an additional requirement of providing tactile characters, e.g., raised letters and Braille.
Contracted Braille (Grade 2) is essentially a short-hand version of spelling out each word that appears
visually on a sign. Sometimes entire words are represented by a combination of raised dots in a
six-dot cell, sometimes groups of letters (‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘st’) are replicated by a single six-dot Braille cell.
Few if any state construction officials can determine whether a sign contractor has provided signs
that comply with the contracted Braille accessibility requirements. Contacting a local disability
organization or organization of blind persons with expertise in this area for assistance may be the
best way to ensure that the state has actually purchased what was specified in the contract.
A number of the design and construction errors noted in the next chapter are attributable to procuring
non-compliant goods or equipment for a project. Non-compliant signs or prefabricated shower
compartments, or drinking fountains with inaccessible controls and improper knee clearances, will,
once ordered and installed, cause violations when a facility is complete and occupied.
Accessibility in state-owned and operated facilities has traditionally meant design and construction:
door widths, accessible parking, and the like. Society’s progression into the virtual world of emails,
web sites, web casts, and similar technological innovations, however, poses new barriers and
challenges for some persons with disabilities. For example, how does someone use an interactive
computer screen at a state Visitors’ Center if he is blind and cannot see the screen?
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
requires federal departments and
agencies that develop, procure, maintain,
or use electronic and information
technology to ensure that federal
employees and members of the public
with disabilities have access to, and use
of, information and data, comparable to
that of the employees and members of
the public without disabilities—unless
complying is an undue burden. The
Section 508 standards developed by the
Access Board are technical specifications
and performance-based requirements which
focus on the functional capabilities covered by
The standards are organized into six sections:
· Software applications and
· Web-based intranet and internet
information and applications
· Telecommunications products
· Video and multimedia products
· Self-contained, closed products
· Desktop and portable computers
While these provisions currently apply to federal departments and agencies, and entities that contract
with the federal government to provide services, the State of Georgia procures and uses the types
of information technologies covered by these standards, and therefore, Section 508 should be used
as supplemental guidance when IT services and equipment are procured by the State.
For state and local governmental facilities, the designer must
be careful to apply all parts of the 2010 Standards, not just
2004 ADAAG as developed by the Access Board.
Even where construction documents indicate that a facility
will meet all of the applicable state and federal accessibility
requirements, translating that into compliance once a
building is constructed can be frustrated by errors that
occur during construction.
Chapter 5: Common Errors and Omissions
“An eraser is easier to use than a jackhammer.”
While predating the era of Computer Assisted Design (CAD),
this “eraser” adage concerning the importance of designing
and constructing in accordance with applicable codes, standards,
and laws is particularly true when it comes to accessibility
for persons with disabilities, given the federal civil rights implications for buildings owned and
operated by the State of Georgia. The point is to catch mistakes in the preliminary stages and
prevent problems that occur in the construction process to avoid accessibility problems or
complaints once a facility is occupied.
It is becoming more and more common for developers, builders, architects and engineers to retain
the services of qualified accessibility consultants to assist them in understanding the complex
requirements of federal, state and local accessibility codes and standards. Although efforts have
been made to harmonize the federal standards with state and local codes it can still be difficult to
understand exactly what is required when different regulations address the same building elements.
The following is a list of areas that may require particular attention during plan review.
While compliance with the ADA Standards for public accommodations and state and local
government has been the focus of accessibility for the past 20 years, violations of the FHAA may
be more common. Sometimes perceived as applying only to apartment buildings, FHAA access
requirements also apply to a variety of projects constructed by or for the State of Georgia such
as some group homes, shelters and university dormitories. Specifically, the FHAA accessibility
guidelines are applicable to all dormitories, group homes and shelters that provide a long term stay
and that are constructed for state universities and many state-owned institutional facilities.
As noted in previous chapters, both the federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act may apply different or more restrictive requirements to a project owned and
operated by the state. The biggest mistake is assuming an “either/or,” “one or the other” approach to
the federal requirements for state construction. State dormitories are subject to the ADA Standards,
the FHAA, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards and perhaps the Architectural Barriers Act.
In all projects, all federal requirements need to be considered and the most restrictive requirements
of each must be applied. As discussed in Chapter 2, no one federal document can provide a single
source for all federal accessibility mandates.
Title II of the ADA requires buildings housing employees to be designed and constructed so that
It should be noted that while the Georgia Accessibility Code reflects most of the requirements of the 1991/1994 ADA Accessibility Guidelines
(ADAAG), it does not provide similar protection for compliance with the Fair Housing Amendments Act. For example, it applies the ADA accessibility
requirements to dormitories, requiring a certain number of rooms to be usable by mobility impaired or hearing impaired students, but does not
specify that all other dormitory rooms may be subject to the minimal “adaptability” provisions of the Fair Housing Act
the common areas are accessible to and useable by people with disabilities. Common areas include
entrances, corridors, kitchenettes, toilets, etc. Employee work areas must be designed so that a
person with a disability can approach, enter and exit the work area. In addition, the 2010 ADA
Standards include a requirement for common use circulation paths within employee work areas to
The 2010 ADA Standards require an accessible route to connect site arrive points to an accessible
entrance(s). When a pedestrian route is planned to connect the public right of way to the building
or facility, at least one of those routes must be accessible. While these routes are typically provided
for urban properties, they may be missed for facilities like parks and historic sites where a public
sidewalk or bus stop is remote from the building or structure.
The 2010 standards differ from the 1991 standards in that they only require an accessible route if a
pedestrian route is being provided.
A common error is applying the proscriptions against protruding objects only to accessible routes.
The 2010 ADA Standards and the Georgia Accessibility Code prohibit protruding objects located on
all circulation paths (e.g., where anyone may walk), which may include spaces that are not a part of
a required accessible route. Objects located between 27 and 80 inches above the finished floor are
not permitted to protrude more than 4 inches into a circulation path, even in a 10 foot wide corridor
or 10,000 square foot convention space.
The door maneuvering clearance requirements of the ADA Standards and the Georgia Accessibility
Code can be very complicated, as they are dependent on approach to the pull or push side of the
door, side approach to the hinge or latch side of the door, etc.13 Each door needs to be assessed
individually to determine whether it complies with the accessibility requirements.
Common errors include:
· Not providing a minimum 12-inch clearance at the latch side/ push side of a door
equipped with both a closer and a latch.
· Not providing at least 18 inches at the latch side of a door that must be pulled open.
Accessible parking spaces and their adjacent access aisles must be level (with a maximum slope of 2
percent in any direction for water drainage). Since access aisles must be level for their entire width
There are no maneuvering clearance requirements for interior doors in dwelling units and sleeping units covered only by the Fair Housing
and length, curb ramps may not protrude into the access aisle.
The dimensions of a standard roll-in shower are minimums: 60 inches minimum long and 30
inches deep. This is not true for transfer showers. The 36-
inch by 36-inch required dimensions are absolute.14 There are
many shower units on the market that do not comply with this,
either exceeding the 36-inch dimension in length or depth, or
providing a 34” by 34” compartment that fits into a 36” by 36”
Another common violation is specifying shower units that have
thresholds exceeding the maximum height specified by state
and federal regulations. This is often done because of a concern
over water from the shower spilling onto the bathroom floor.15
Common design mistakes may include:
· Placing all of the required wheelchair locations at floor level in tiered theaters16
· Grouping all of the wheelchair locations in
segregated areas in an arena
· Not designing wheelchair location elevations that
provide sightlines over standing spectators
· Not providing the requisite companion seats next to
· Not providing the required number of receivers for
assistive listening systems
For state and local governmental facilities, the designer must be careful to apply all parts of the
2010 Standards, not just 2004 ADAAG as developed by the Access Board. The Standards also
include the provisions developed by the Department of Justice that address effective dates and
compliance dates, definitions, and additional scoping and other details. The Title II regulations are
found at 28 CFR 35.151 and include, through incorporation, the 2004 ADAAG (found at 36 CFR part
Because molded shower compartments do not have squared corners at the floor, the 2004 ADAAG specifies that the dimensions are measured mid-
point at the walls and compartment opening.
Some product manufacturers have attempted to solve this issue by designing flexible thresholds that can be rolled over by someone using a
1991/1994 ADAAG (and the Georgia Accessibility Code) permits viewing positions to be clustered where sight lines require slopes greater than 5
percent. The clustered locations are not permitted to provide inferior sight lines. The cluster exception is not included in the 2010 Standards.
1191, appendices B and D). In the few places where the requirements of these two documents may
be different, the requirements of 28 CFR 35.151 will prevail.
Where the start date for construction is on or after March 15, 2012, the requirements of the 2010
Standards apply. For any Title II facility with a start date before March 15, 2012, the entity has
the choice of following the 1991 ADA Standards (without the elevator exemption), the Uniform
Accessibility Standards (UFAS), or the 2010 Standards.
· Alterations and Path of Travel
The path of travel requirement that formerly was included only in the Title III Standards
now applies to Title II as well. An alteration that affects or could affect the usability of or
access to an area that contains a primary function must, to the maximum extent feasible,
provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area unless the cost and scope of the
path of travel is disproportionate to the cost of the overall alteration.
· Social Service Center Establishments
Group homes, halfway houses, shelters, etc. subject to this section must comply with the
residential requirements (Section 233 and 809) of the 2010 Standards.
· Housing at a Place of Education
The 2010 Standards differentiate between (1) dormitories or residence halls and (2)
apartments or townhouses that are leased to graduate students or faculty on a year-round
basis. Different scoping and technical provisions will apply to the different building types.
· Assembly Areas
The 2010 ADA Standards includes substantial changes to the requirements for assembly
areas. For example, in large venues, the requirement for the number of wheelchair spaces
has been reduced. In addition, the 2010 Standards provide much more detail regarding
the horizontal and vertical dispersion requirements of the accessible seating as well as
the requirement for comparable lines of sight. The 1991 requirement for the provision
of a companion seat is still in the 2010 Standards but the companion seat is no longer
required to be fixed as long as movable seating is provided that is comparable to the fixed
seating provided in the section where the accessible seating is located. For example, if the
fixed seating provides a cushioned seat and a cup holder, then the movable companion
seating must provide the same amenities. There is also a new requirement that was not
in the 1991 Standards: each team seating area must be served by an accessible route and
provide a least one wheelchair seating space.
· Facilities with Residential Dwelling Units for Sale to Individual Owners
Title II entities that offer residential units for sale must now include accessible units.
Section 233 and 809 contain the scoping and technical provisions that would apply to this
type of housing.
· Detention and Correction Facilities
In addition to most public and common areas in a jail, prison or other detention and
correction facilities, 3 percent of the cells, but no fewer than one, must be accessible for
people with mobility impairments and 2 percent for people with hearing impairments.
These cells must be dispersed throughout each classification level.
· Medical Care Facilities
Medical care facilities are required to comply with the 2010 Standards including, but not
limited to, sections 223 and 809. In addition, medical care facilities that do not specialize
in the treatment of conditions that affect mobility are required to disperse the accessible
patient rooms proportionate to the type of medical specialty.
Even where construction documents indicate that a facility will meet all of the applicable state and
federal accessibility requirements, translating that into compliance once a building is constructed
can be frustrated by errors that occur during construction.
All federal accessibility regulations apply to the entire facility or project site, not just what occurs within
the four walls of a building. As sites expand and add additional accessible elements (transportation
stops, outdoor telephones and drinking fountains, additional buildings and structures), creating
accessible routes to connect all of these elements is essential. Proper grading is essential to ensure
that connections like sidewalks maintain proper running and cross slopes.
Parking is also a concern. As previously discussed, accessible parking spaces and their access aisles
need to be essentially level (maximum 2 percent slope in all directions). This is sometimes missed
during site development, with the result being sloped surfaces that make it extremely difficult to
transfer from a car to a wheelchair.
Dozens of changes occur throughout the construction process, from redesign of spaces to changing
products installed in a facility due to lack of availability
of a specified item. When this occurs, the impact on the
accessibility of the facility must be considered.
For example, kitchen cabinetry may be replaced when
specified products or cabinet sizes are not available.
This can lead to shifting kitchen fixtures and appliances
to compensate for the new dimensions. Changing the
location of a sink or a refrigerator, however, may mean a
loss of the accessible clear floor space that is required to
be centered on the element by the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. The resulting shift creates
a violation of federal regulations.
Changing specified drinking fountains, accessible signs, shower compartments, even wall tiles can
affect the accessibility of a completed facility. These types of changes need to be reviewed and
approved to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements.
The 2010 ADA Standards state, “All dimensions are subject to conventional building industry
tolerances except where the requirement is stated in a range with specific minimum and maximum
end points.”17 This provision is often misunderstood to permit conditions that result in noncompliant
facilities. For example, a 3 percent cross slope on a sidewalk serving as an accessible route may be
beyond industry tolerances.
Industry and construction tolerances remain a confusing and contentious issue. In 2007 the Access
Board announced a research project with the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) to develop
guidance on construction tolerances. The results of that research project, addressing dimensional
tolerances for accessible surfaces such as routes and ramps were published on the Access Board
website in February 2011.18
The location of plumbing supply and waste lines during construction will have an impact on whether
a completed facility will comply with applicable accessibility requirements. For example, water
closet drain lines must be placed so that the centerline of the fixture is located between 16 inches
and 18 inches from the finished side wall. According to the 2010 Standards, since the water closet
centerline dimension is stated as a range, deviation from the 16 inches to 18 inches dimension will
not be allowed.
Mounting heights for accessible drinking fountains, and maintaining required clear floor spaces at
bathing fixtures are other problem areas where inexact work by contractors can lead to problems
at the end of construction.
This provision is replicated in the Georgia Accessibility Code at 120-3-20-.05(b).
http://www.access-board.gov/news/tolerances-report.htm (need consistent fonts on all footnotes)
12. Protruding objects are prohibited by the ADA Standards on
A. accessible routes
B. circulation paths
C. walking surfaces
D. all the above
13. Accessible routes are required to
A. NBA locker rooms
B. attendant booths in surface parking lots
C. court room witness stands
D. all of the above
14. Grade 2 Braille is
A. taught in second grade
B. taller than Grade 1 Braille
C. a short-hand version of spelling
D. a letter-by-letter translation of print
15. The ADA Standards require all of the following employee spaces to be accessible except
A. break rooms
B. shower facilities
C. work stations
D. toilet rooms
16. Accessible transfer shower compartments are required to be
A. 36 inches by 36 inches
B. 36 inches minimum by 36 inches minimum
C. 36 inches minimum by 48 inches
D. 30 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum
17. On the push side of a door with a closer but no latch, the minimum latch side
Answers can be found on page 62.
Georgians recognize the important role that historic
places play in their social and economic lives. Georgia’s
state historic sites, ranging across time from Native American
settlements and Colonial America, to the Antebellum South
and American Civil War period, and through the Civil Rights
era, offer many enriching experiences for their visitors.
These opportunities should be available to everyone,
including grandparents using walkers and school children
Chapter 6: Existing Buildings
At any given time, new construction constitutes a small percentage of the state’s building stock.
As explained in Sections II and IV of chapter 2 with respect to “program accessibility,” accessibility
in our existing facilities is critical to Georgia meeting its social and legal obligations to create an
environment that provides equal access to persons with disabilities.
Even in a brand new, fully accessible building, maintaining accessibility is an important and
ongoing responsibility. Placement of office furniture, display cases, waste receptacles, and other
miscellaneous items needs to be planned so that these do not reduce the width of accessible
routes, maneuvering spaces at doors, or clear floor spaces at accessible elements like telephones
or elevator lobby buttons.
On the exterior, accessible routes, entrances, and ramps are a concern. All should be kept clear of
dirt and debris. Sidewalks and ramps at beach parks should be swept of drifting sand. Landscape
features adjoining walkways need to be trimmed so as not to obstruct an accessible route and
not to become protruding objects that are hazardous to people who are blind or have low vision.
Walkways must be repaired and replaced when tree roots grow and heave or break the concrete.
Accessible elements, spaces, and equipment need to be
maintained in a safe and operable condition. Periodic
shutdowns for toilet room fixture repairs or elevator
maintenance and inspection are permitted, but down-
time should be kept to a minimum, and alternative
accessible elements or spaces, with signage indicating
their location, should be provided wherever possible.
Particular attention should be given to accessibility
equipment that may be infrequently used: assistive
listening receivers in assembly areas, TTY telephones,
platform (wheelchair) lifts. Establishing a regular
inspection schedule for these items will ensure that
they are available and operable when they are needed.
Property owners need to establish and enforce policies
and procedures that maintain the accessibility of the
physical plant. Do not permit vehicles to obstruct curb ramps, sidewalks or passenger loading zones.
Maintenance and delivery vehicles should not block accessible entrances or circulation paths. And
employees or delivery personnel should never be permitted to misuse accessible parking spaces
because they are more conveniently located.
Maintaining existing accessibility can be particularly challenging during construction projects. In
building renovations, corridors can become blocked or cluttered, toilet rooms unavailable, entrances
closed or moved. Every building alteration must be analyzed to determine how accessibility may
be affected and how the impact on building usability can be minimized prior to starting the work.
Construction of new buildings and facilities or demolitions of old ones often impact circulation
routes on or near the building site. Public sidewalks can be blocked or removed, and entire parking
lots can be taken over by construction trailers and equipment. Again, planning must include
maintaining or relocating accessible features throughout the project.
The 2005 draft proposed ADA Public Rights-of-Way Guidelines and 2003 Manual on Uniform
Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) include requirements for alternate pedestrian access routes
where pedestrian access routes are blocked by construction, alteration, maintenance or other
temporary conditions. While clearly useful for Georgia Department of Transportation projects,
these documents also provide guidance for maintaining access where work on a state agency
building affects a public sidewalk, or where accessible routes within a site are disrupted during
construction. Plans should:
· Provide the alternate route in the same general location as the disrupted route (e.g., on
the same side of a street if possible)
· Maintain a 48-inch wide accessible circulation path wherever possible
· Protect circulation paths with pedestrian barricades or channelizing devices when
adjacent to excavation drop-offs, traffic or other hazards
· Include appropriate signage to indicate where the temporary accessible route is located
· Provide adequate illumination and reflectors
· Ensure that construction materials are not stored on circulation paths
· Construction barricades, scaffolding and other temporary fixtures must not contain or
create protruding objects.
The Georgia State Minimum Standard Building Code specifies that alterations to existing buildings
must comply with the new construction requirements of the code.19 A similar provision of the
Georgia Accessibility Code defines an alteration as “...a change...that affects or could affect the
usability of the building or facility, or part thereof.” The ADA Standards impose similar requirements.
Some changes can be made to a building that do not rise to the level of constituting an alteration
under the building code but do constitute alterations as defined by the ADA and Georgia Accessibility
Code. Changing room signs in an existing building may not be regulated by the building code
but it is an alteration for accessibility purposes because the ADA and Georgia Accessibility Code
regulate room signs. Installing a carpet is not typically regulated by the building code, but State and
federal accessibility requirements regulate carpets, and installing a thick carpet could adversely
impact an accessible route. Building owners and operators and contractors should review planned
The Georgia Code references the ICC 2006 International Building Code, Section 3403.1.
changes to a property to determine whether the accessibility/usability of a facility will be affected
and accordingly ensure compliance with applicable accessibility requirements, irrespective of how
the building code may regulate a project.
Remember, the 2010 ADA Standards require that in addition to providing accessibility in an alteration
of a primary function area, a Title II entity must provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area.
See language above in “DOJ Standards provisions not found in ADAAG,” under Section I of Chapter 3.
Increasing the accessibility of Georgia’s buildings is an ongoing and inevitable process as they are
renovated, expanded, and maintained throughout their life spans. For example, a nonfunctioning
1960s drinking fountain is replaced by one that is compliant with the Georgia code as well as the
ADA Standards. A multi-story addition to an old office building includes accessible elevators that
provide vertical access to the upper floors of the existing structure.
The state also has the federal obligation to ensure that, when
viewed in their entirety, Georgia’s services and programs are
accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. (See more
about program access under the section on Title II of the ADA
in Chapter 2, Part IV.) Our state is committed to this goal. As
part of its commitment, the State ADA Coordinator’s Office
operates the Statewide ADA Facility Improvements Program.
Services of the program include:
· Working with state agencies to develop budget requests and undertake ADA-related
construction projects. These projects concern accessible entrances, primary function
areas, restroom alterations, site modifications, automatic doors, curb cuts, ramps,
pathway renovation, door modification, and other accessibility elements and features to
meet the letter and spirit of the ADA.
· Determining which specific projects are necessary and fundable under internally
developed criteria. In making this determination, the technical assistance team and
the State ADA Coordinator determine whether or not “nonstructural” solutions (e.g.,
relocating programs to another location, bringing the program to the individual, providing
adaptive equipment, and providing additional staff) provide the appropriate level of
program access for individuals with disabilities.
· Receiving assistance from an ADA Screening Committee that provides fiscal oversight to
this program. Members include representatives from the Office of Planning and Budget,
Legislative Budget Office and Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.
Assistance includes training for agencies, judges, fire marshals and building code officials
on state and federal accessibility requirements; technical assistance for public officials on
the ADA, Fair Housing Act and other federal disability laws; and assistance in applying the
Georgia Accessibility Code.
Operators and managers of facilities owned or leased by the State of Georgia should not only
avail themselves of these services but watch for accessibility problems and possible solutions in the
day-to-day operation of their properties and plan for future capital projects accordingly.
The Georgia Accessibility Code, ICC International Building Code, and the ADA Standards all contain
requirements for accessible means of egress in new construction, but all exempt existing buildings
from this requirement. Regardless, egress for persons with disabilities may remain an issue in
existing facilities under the program accessibility mandates of the ADA.
Establishing life safety and evacuation plans for existing structures is a program provided by Title
II entities and, as such, must be done in a manner that does not discriminate against persons with
disabilities. If a state office building has an evacuation plan for its occupants, that plan must also
include provisions for getting disabled employees out of the building. This is obviously a particular
concern for persons with mobility impairments who cannot use stairs and who have accessed the
upper stories of a building by elevator or lift.
While the technical requirements for accessible means of egress and areas of rescue assistance
(areas of refuge) and egress elevators are not applied to existing construction, the principles
and concepts on which these provisions are based can be applied to any evacuation strategy.
· Elevator evacuation — Even where elevators are recalled and placed under the control
of firefighters, first responders can determine whether use of an elevator will be safe
and they can assist persons with mobility impairments to reach a level of exit discharge
in the building.
· Evacuation by exit stairs — When the threat from fire or smoke is imminent and using
elevators is not an option, one option may be evacuation by stairways. This can be
accomplished by trained personnel using a three-person carry of someone in a
wheelchair or by using evacuation chairs.
· Protect in place — On levels above or below a level of exit discharge, establish
staging or waiting areas where persons who cannot exit by the stairways can be
located by first responders. The areas should provide some protection from smoke
and provide a two-way communications system to let first responders know that
someone in the area needs assistance. (Note: Protect-in-place areas are common
in high-rise construction where zoned evacuation is implemented and everyone
on certain floors may be asked to remain in the building.)
Accessibility for persons with disabilities and the preservation of historic buildings and sites are
two important areas of social policy addressed by building codes as well as State and federal
regulations. At times, these goals may appear to be in conflict, and balancing the civil rights inherent
in barrier-free design while maintaining our centuries of heritage can be a challenge.
Fortunately, the era of historic preservation trumping any accessibility improvements is, in itself,
becoming “historic,” and designers and building owners are now considering both issues when
altering or maintaining historic facilities. State and federal regulations provide specific guidance in
The Georgia Accessibility Code and the ADA Standards state that alterations to historic facilities must
comply with the alteration requirements that apply to all buildings.20 Many historic structures are
retrofitted with sprinkler and fire alarm systems, additional accessible means of egress, accessible
toilet rooms, and other code-compliant systems, so that they can be used as offices or museums
or for other purposes.
However, both the Georgia Accessibility Code and the ADA regulations allow some latitude in
applying accessibility requirements in alterations to a “qualified historic facility.” Where the
State Historic Preservation Officer or Advisory Council on Historic Preservation determines that
compliance with the requirements for accessible routes, entrances, or toilet facilities would threaten
or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the exceptions for alterations to qualified
historic buildings or facilities for that element can be applied. Reductions in alteration requirements
to ensure sensitivity to historic facility features may include the following:
· Steeper ramp slopes may be provided for very small rises in elevation.
· If public toilets are provided and cannot be made accessible, a single accessible unisex
toilet facility may be sufficient.
· An accessible route may not be required to levels above or below levels that have an
accessible entrance. If an accessible route is not provided consideration must be given to
providing an alternative method of providing access.
· In limited cases, secondary or service entrances may serve as the accessible entrance.
Keep in mind that these “reductions” do not override the program access requirement. If alterations
required for program access to a program or service that is not related to historic preservation cannot
be undertaken without destroying the historic significance of a property, alternative methods of
achieving program access must be used. For example, if an office that provides services to the public
is located in an historic building that cannot be made accessible, it will be necessary to relocate the
program or service offered by that office or to ensure other means of making the services accessible.
On the other hand, if the program has as its purpose the preservation of a historic property - i.e., the
primary purpose is for visitors to experience the historic site itself, such as the 19th Century home
Georgia Accessibility Code, Section 120-3-20.12; 2010 ADA Standards, section 202.5, Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities
of a Georgia Statesman, the program cannot, of
course, be relocated. In that case, other means
of enhancing appreciation of the property can
be used. For example, photographs or a video
of an inaccessible second floor would be one
means of depicting that portion of the building
for people with mobility disabilities.
Georgians recognize the important role that
historic places play in their social and economic
lives. Georgia’s state historic sites, ranging
across time from Native American settlements
and Colonial America, to the Antebellum South and American Civil War period, and through the
Civil Rights era, offer many enriching experiences for their visitors. These opportunities should be
available to everyone, including grandparents using walkers and school children using wheelchairs.
18. The ADA accessibility requirements do not apply
to of buildings.
C. changes of occupancy
19. At a state historic building, all of the following are permitted in some
circumstances except .
A. ramps steeper than 1:12
B. a 4-inch maximum step at an accessible entrance
C. only one accessible toilet room
D. no accessible route to a second story
20. When demolishing a building on a university campus, all of the following should
be considered except .
A. prohibiting blind students near the demolition site
B. protecting circulation paths with channelizing devices
C. providing alternate routes close to the disrupted routes
D. posting signs indicating locations of accessible routes
Answers can be found on page 62.
Chapter 7: Resources and Appendices
The Access Board Web site includes all of the existing and new ADA Guidelines, proposed
guidelines, and advisory committee reports. Research papers on a variety of accessibility issues
can be viewed and downloaded. Additionally, information regarding the Architectural Barriers Act,
including enforcement issues, is located here.
The Department of Justice ADA Home Page is a valuable resource for both the Department’s ADA
requirements and for links to other federal departments and agencies that enforce accessibility
requirements and disability laws. It contains downloadable publications for businesses, non-profit
providers, and State and local governments.
This Department of Justice publication provides an overview of all the federal laws that address the
rights of persons with disabilities.
The HUD web page includes information on both the Fair Housing Act and the Department’s
regulations for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The EEOC enforces the Title I Employment provisions of the ADA. Its web site includes the applicable
regulations as well as information on reasonable accommodations, mediation and filing complaints.
This link to the Federal Transit Administration Web site provides information on accessible
transportation facilities, as well as FTA compliance.
Please note that as of August 2011 many of these web sites, or documents found on
them, had not been updated to reflect changes in ADA regulations in 2010 and later.
State ADA Coordinator’s Office
The ICC maintains a separate web page on accessibility issues. Included is valuable links to other
resources, information on the development of the A117.1 accessibility standard, and a side-by-side
comparison of the text of the 2006 IBC, 2004 ADAAG, and DOJ requirements for accessibility.
A federally funded regional center (DBTAC) that serves as a “one-stop” central, comprehensive
resource on ADA issues in employment, public services, public accommodations, and
There are continuing responsibilities for barrier removal in existing buildings. No alteration
or maintenance project can have the effect of decreasing accessibility or usability below the
requirements. Below are several key items to review for ongoing ADA maintenance:
· Make sure accessible parking spaces are occupied only by eligible users.
· Keep accessible parking access aisles clear.
· Ensure that drop-off areas and loading zones are not blocked by service and short term
delivery vehicles and vendors.
· Keep curb ramps clear of obstructions, e.g. snow, pooling water, etc.
· Keep walks, sidewalks and ramps that are part of the required accessible route free of
debris and abrupt level changes.
· Keep landscape elements trimmed, e.g., low-hanging tree branches, bushes extending
into the required accessible route.
· Maintain slip resistance of accessible routes at all times.
· Check structural strength of handrails and guardrails at stairs & ramps periodically.
· Maintain circulation paths that are free of protruding objects.
· Maintain clear headroom of at least 80 inches in all circulation paths.
· Maintain 36 inches min. wide clear accessible routes between furniture, boxes and other
· Maintain accessible routes to stages and performing areas.
· Do not block accessible routes or access aisles with maintenance vehicles, equipment or
· Keep construction and maintenance projects from blocking accessible routes or make
provision for alternate routes.
· Periodically check accessible doors for proper operating forces and closing speed.
· Check door thresholds periodically to verify that they have not been damaged or have not
become tripping hazards.
· Keep areas under call buttons free of obstructions.
· Verify consistent voice-free operation of emergency communications devices.
· Maintain automatic reopening devices in working order.
· Periodically check cab arrival notification systems and door closure timing.
· Ensure that the cab floor and building floor are flush.
· Make certain that the accessible toilets are available during all times that the facility is
· Keep trash cans and other obstructions out of turning spaces and clear floor spaces at
· Keep coat hooks in accessible stalls in accessible locations.
· Keep accessible toilet paper dispensers stocked and functional.
· If paper towel or toilet paper is provided by a new vendor, new dispensers may be
provided and these must be located in keeping with accessibility standards, e.g., they
must be within reach range, must not block grab bars and must not protrude into
· Keep accessible paper towel dispensers stocked and functional.
· Keep all other accessible dispensers stocked and functional.
· Maintain insulation on water supply and drain pipes under accessible lavatories.
· Where self-closing faucets are used, maintain timers to keep water flowing for at least 10
seconds after activation.
· Check structural strength of grab bars, tub and shower seats periodically.
· Check shower heads in accessible showers to assure they stay operable and within
maximum reach ranges
State ADA Coordinator’s Office
Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission
270 Washington Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30334