When things are not clear....
Because the guidelines cannot be all inclusive and describe every condition, there are some instances when it is not clear the proper way to proceed.  This month we will address things like when the Accessibility code is in conflict with the Model codes and when a remodel of a restroom appears to be only cosmetic
Last month's Newsletter I explained about essential features and their distinction between them and a primary function during an alteration.  This term and rule only applies to Texas and the Texas Accessibility Standards. The ADAAG does not define an essential feature and therefore the rule that I described does not apply to the Federal Guidelines.
Swimming Pool Gates
At a hotel swimming pool there is usually a gate.  A gate to a pool is required to comply with section 4.13, which requires the gate hardware to be 48" A.F.F. max.

The 2007 Pool Code requires the latch to be 54" min. a.f.f. for safety.  Since both cannot be satisfied, which one do you follow? 
Typically we say that it must meet the more stringent rule, but in this case if we follow the most stringent in relation to accessibility, we don't follow the most stringent for safety.

The new ADA/ABA guidelines allow the 54" a.f.f. as an exception,  however these do not apply yet. In the Texas Accessibility Standards there is a small print that states that if a model code have certain requirements that are in conflict with the accessibility standards, the Model code would rule.
Where municipalities would require you to follow the Model code rather than the Accessibility Guidelines, then you would have to apply for a Variance (in States that have an enforcing agency) and reference the Model code as the source.  The Access Board suggests that the covered entity follow the 2004 Guidelines to resolve the conflict.
pool gate
In This Issue
Pool Gates
Plumbing fixtures and Alterations
On the Lighter side
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Plumbing fixtures and Alterations

Here is a question I've been asked recently several times:
 "If I'm just changing out finishes and plumbing fixtures in an existing restroom, do I have to bring the entire restroom up to compliance?"

This is a complicated question.  In the ADAAG and TAS there is a definition for "alterations" which states:

[Alteration is a] A change to a building or facility that affects or could affect the usability of the building or facility or portion thereof. ...... Normal maintenance, reroofing, painting or wallpapering, or changes to mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility. 

 Notice the last sentence where it describes the parts of a "construction" project that are considered normal maintenance.  The changes in finishes and even the mechanical and electrical will be considered maintenance and will not require any upgrades to the room.  But plumbing fixtures are not listed; therefore if you are replacing plumbing fixtures, those will have to comply. 
Replacing a single fixture would only require that the new fixture comply to the maximum extent feasible based on TAS 4.1.6(1)(b) and the following provisions of TAS 4.1.6(1)(j):
" Any elements or features of the building or facility that are being altered and can be made accessible shall be accessible within the scope of the alteration"
For example, the maximum extent feasible at the time of the replacement of a damaged water closet may require compliance with the height, flush valve, and grab bar requirements of TAS 4.16. 
However, removing all fixtures in a toilet room would trigger compliance with TAS 4.1.6(1)(c) and the entire space would be required to comply.
This TAS standard was probably implemented because an empty space is an opportunity to achieve accessibility.


old bathroom

On the Lighter Side

An accessible entrance to a commercial facility is required....This one is not too accessible!

funny ramp
This newsletter is just for education purposes.  For a final ruling, verify your specific condition with your regulating agency.  If you have any other questions or if there is anything else I can help you with, feel free to contact me any time. 
Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714