In This Issue
Summary of Changes to the 2010 ADA and 2012 TAS
Existing buildings
What's next?

Volume VII Number 1                                         January 2012

As we look ahead to 2012 we think about how things will change, and hopefully for the better!  The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design  and the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards will become mandatory this year (March 15th to be more precise).  This newsletter reminds us of what changes are coming up and also how to deal with the change.


 Summary of Changes to the 2010 ADA  and 2012 TAS

1. Same numbering and format as ANSI A117.1

2. The appendix was eliminated and included in the body of the text in gray boxes.




3. Means of egress requirements is no longer part of the ADA or TAS and are now referenced back to IBC 2003 for the rules. 


4. Less graphics, but better information.  Be aware that figures are for reference only.

5. More van accessible spaces are required.  Now the Standards require one van accessible space per every six standard accessible spaces provided. 

6. Change in width of access aisle and van spaces to eleven feet wide space with a five foot access aisle (instead of eight feet).  There is an exception that allows us to continue using the old standard of eight foot wide access aisle, but it is recommended to use the five foot access aisle and the 11 foot van accessible space.






7. No detectable warnings, including truncated domes and contrasting color at curb ramps.  There is a requirement for detectable warning outside of the property line in the public right of way but these are found in a separate set of guidelines for public right of way.





8. Drinking fountains are required to have one for wheelchairs and one for standing, and always a forward approach with a knee space.






9. Urinals only required to be accessible where two or more urinals are provided.  If there is only one, then it does not have to be accessible.

10. Restrooms will require a wider space at the water closet which does not allow a lavatory to overlap into the clear floor space.  The new Standards also provided a range of 16"-18" of distance from the side wall to the center of the water closet.



1991 rr






11. Lowered side reach range from 54" to 48".  54" side approach reach range is not allowed.





12. Added new sections in the ADA and TAS,  including court rooms, play areas and swimming pools.



For a side by side comparison of the changes to the ADA check out this table:

For a side by side comparison of the changes to the Texas Accessibility Standards, check out this table: 


 For Autocad version of the new figures click here 



 How to deal with existing buildings?


Both the 1991 and 2010 Standards generally require that when existing elements and spaces of a facility do not meet the accessibility guidelines, they must be corrected as it is "readily achievable".  Also when facilities are altered, the alterations must comply with new construction accessibility requirements. If there is an existing facility that meets the 1991 Guideline requirements, then the 2010 Regulations provide a "safe harbor" for those elements. Safe harbor means that those elements do not have to be modified in order to meet the 2010 Standards, just for barrier removal purposes, until the element is itself aletered. You should document your compliance as to those elements, before March 15, 2012.


The safe harbor does not apply to elements for which there were no requirements in the 1991 Standards, such as residential facilities and dwelling units, play areas, and swimming pools. DOJ lists these in the 2010 Regulation at section 36.304(d) (2)(iii)


If an element does not comply with the Standards, it is considered a "barrier." For example, a typical round knob on a door that should be accessible would be a barrier because it requires tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate, contrary to the provisions of the Standards.  These must be removed as it is "readily achievable", but all non compliant items from 1991 Guidelines should be fixed prior to March 15, 2012.




Another opportunity to remove barriers is when there is an alteration of an area containing a primary function.  The building owner is required to not only make the new elements comply, but the path of travel to the altered area including the restrooms, drinking fountains and telephones (and in Texas also the parking)  that serve the altered area must also comply.  If those upgrades exceed 20% of the original construction cost, the Department of Justice considers this disproportionate and will allow you to defer the upgrades that are beyond 20%.  The Department of Justice does require the building owner to prioritize as follows:   

1) An accessible entrance
2) An accessible route to the altered area
3) An accessible restroom for each gender


4) Accessible telephones
5) Accessible drinking fountains
6) Additional element such as parking, storage and alarms 


As long as the building owner is making a good faith effort to correct and eliminate barriers from buildings, the Department of Justice will work with them on the timeline.  

Keep in mind the reason why the ADA was passed in the first place: To provide access to all!   







 What's next....

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!!  May it be prosperous and barrier free!!!!


If you want to learn more about the new Standards, The ADA Companion Guide has the 2004 Guidelines with commentary and explanations throughout.



Online CEU course by the AIA National : The ADA and Urban Regeneration (as presented in the 2011 AIA National convention)


 If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.  


Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714




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