On November 13 the Access Board held a day-long workshop comparing how building accessibility is addressed in Australia and the U.S. It featured presentations and a dialogue by experts on how accessibility to the built environment is addressed and enforced in both nations.
Representatives from Australia included Michael Small, a former government official in Australia and the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship to study building accessibility from an international perspective, and Robin Banks, a consultant in human rights who formerly headed the Australian Public Interest Advocacy Centre and served as a state Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. They reviewed Australia’s development of accessibility standards under the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 which were also incorporated into the country’s National Construction Code to facilitate compliance.
U.S. experts described how accessibility to facilities is addressed under civil rights laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and by building codes and regulations. Speakers included Rebecca B. Bond, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Ronald Clements Jr., CBO, assistant building official for Chesterfield County, Virginia; Ann Cody a senior foreign affairs officer who leads the State Department’s International Disability Rights team; David Collins, FAIA, NCARB, who represented the American Institute of Architects; Allan Frasier, CBI, CPCA of the National Fire Protection Association; David Insinga, Chief Architect of the General Services Administration; Dominic Marinelli, Vice President of the United Spinal Association, Kimberly Paarlberg, RA, Senior Staff Architect in Technical Services at the International Code Council; Kenneth Shiotani of the National Disability Rights Network; and James Terry, AIA who is CEO of Evan Terry Associates, LLC and President, Corada, LLC.
Participants discussed and compared how building regulations and standards are developed, amended, and enforced in each county, the relationship between civil rights laws and building regulations, and the roles of building officials, designers, and builders. Specific questions included how compliance is assessed and monitored, variance or waiver mechanisms, use of performance standards and alternative design solutions, involving people with disabilities in the development of standards, and available resources and training for building professionals. Members of the public were able to attend in person and remotely and raised questions or comments with the panel.
For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at (202) 272-0020(v), (202) 272- 0076 (TTY), or[email protected].
The Access Board will hold its next meeting on January 10 from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET) at the Board’s conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The public is welcome to attend in person or through a live webcast of the meeting.
The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place January 4 from2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for alterations and additions. It will cover what type of work constitutes an “alteration,” how the scope of work determines application, provisions for primary function areas and accessible paths of travel, historic facilities, technical infeasibility and other topics.
For more information or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.
Jeffery Hill, the Access Board’s Senior Compliance Specialist, is retiring at the end of the year after 30 years of government service. Hill joined the Board’s Office of General Counsel as a law clerk in 1987 shortly after graduating law school. He was brought on to investigate complaints filed under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which requires federally funded facilities to be accessible, and to help reduce a backlog of cases. As a Compliance Specialist, he worked with a variety of federal agencies to resolve cases, particularly the General Services Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of the Interior. He forged cooperative partnerships with these and other agencies to complete investigations and correct access barriers. He investigated accessibility issues at a range of sites, including national parks, federal office buildings and courthouses, and public housing. In 2001, he was promoted to the position of Senior Compliance Specialist and assumed additional supervisory responsibilities. He served the full length of his federal career at the Board except for a 14-month stint as a trademark examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Board commends Hill for his many years of dedicated service and for his career-long commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released a guide on access to shared streets for people with vision impairments. The 40-page publication, Accessible Shared Streets: Notable Practices and Considerations for Accommodating Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities, provides guidance and best practices for designing shared streets based on lessons learned from existing projects and input from FHWA Division Offices, the Access Board, state departments of transportation, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials. It also covers guiding design principles as part of a “design toolbox” for shared streets, applicable accessibility mandates, environmental challenges to pedestrians with vision impairments, and detectable warnings and other access features.
For further information, visit FHWA’s website or contact Dan Goodman at (202) 366-9064.