ICC A117.1 – 2017 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities

A117.1 accessibleANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities was meant to be updated every five years. But, the 2009 edition was not updated until 2017

When first published, this standard was overseen by the Council of American Building Officials (CABO). It is now overseen by the International Code Council (ICC).

A117.1 predated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Before the ADA, this standard was used when designing a facility that would be considered accessible. The ADA was enacted in 1990 and the following year the Access Board — the federal agency which oversees the ADA — published the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). ADAAG used A117.1 as the basis of its requirements.

With the focus on the ADA, A117.1 fell to the wayside.  While the plan was to update the standard every five years, the 2009 standard remained unchanged until 2017.

But, A117.1 was a voluntary standard. ADAAG was not.

The ADA is a civil rights law, not a building code. Violators of the ADA are subject to civil suit for discrimination. However, bear in mind that the code bodies have focused on harmonizing their requirements for many years. The result is that ADAAG and A117.1 elements are now part of the building codes.

ADAAG was updated in 2004. The new version is now known as the Americans With Disabilities Act Standard for Accessible Design (ADASAD). ADASAD was approved by Congress in 2010 — the 20th anniversary of the original ADA.

With the focus on the ADA, A117.1 fell by the wayside. While the plan was to update the standard every five years, the 2009 standard remained unchanged until 2017.

A117.1 accessible

In May of 2017, the new ICC A117.1-2017 was published.

There were no changes that impacted railings. the updated edition of the standard, released by the ICC contains the following additions:

  • For new buildings and additions, enhanced dimensions for clear floor space, turning space, and accessible routes for new buildings and additions;
  • Provisions incorporating many of the latest public right-of-way criteria for curb cuts, blended transitions, detectable warnings, diagonal parking and street parking;
  • New provisions to improve safety for accessible routes through parking lots, and to address accessibility at electric vehicle charging stations;
  • New provisions to facilitate the charging of powered wheelchairs in areas such as accessible hotel rooms and wheelchair seating in assembly spaces;
  • New provisions for water bottle filling stations, and spaces for sign language interpreter stations and video booths; and
  • A new section addressing classroom acoustics to reduce the intrusion of noises from outside the classroom and improve room acoustics.

The 2017 standard is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. It was developed through a consensus-based process that brings together all the stakeholders, including disability-rights groups, code officials, product manufacturers, design professionals, and facilities owners and managers.

The ICC A117.1 standard helps achieve uniformity in the technical design criteria in building codes that allow a person with a physical disability — such as the inability to walk, blindness, or deafness — to independently get to, enter and use a facility. The standard is intended for adoption by government agencies and organizations to use in updating local building codes.

Learn more about the new ICC A117.1-2017 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities standard.

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