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Provide Equal Access


by the WBDG Accessible Committee Last updated: 11-03-2010



Aesthetic Opportunities

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Fo r Americans with disabilities, access means simply being able to use, enjo y, and participate in the many aspects o f so ciety, Relevant Codes and Standards including wo rk, co mmerce, and leisure activities. While remo ving architectural barriers may allo w peo ple with disabilities to circulate Major Resources within and aro und a facility, o ther facto rs, such as transpo rtatio n, affect their ability to fully participate in activities. Designers and o ther suppliers o f services and go o ds need to pro vide equal access fo r all witho ut undermining the needs o f peo ple with disabilities.

Assessment Tools for Accessibility Electric Lighting Controls Form Playground Design and Equipment VIEW ALL RELAT ED (7 ) VIEW RESO URCE PAG E INDEX

What is "Equal Access"? Pro viding equal access means ensuring all individuals can make use o f transpo rtatio n, buildings and facilities, pro grams and services, emplo yment o ppo rtunities, and techno lo gy. It also means o ffering all users the same pro visio ns fo r privacy, security, and safety. Design pro fessio nals can pro mo te equal access by inco rpo rating and integrating accessible features thro ugho ut a building's pro gram.


The renovated Post Office at Ronald Reagan National Airport provides equal access


to the intake windows, Arlington, VA. Note the accessible window on the far right. Photos before and after the renovation by: Eric Taylor on behalf of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Why Provide "Equal Access"? Pro viding equal access remo ves discriminatio n and pro tects human rights. An accessible built enviro nment pro vides the o ppo rtunity fo r all peo ple to fully participate in and co ntribute to their families, co mmunities, and so ciety. Equal access o ffers individuals the o ccasio n to impro ve the quality o f life and standard o f living fo r themselves, their families, and o ther peo ple in the wo rld. Finally, pro viding equal access is required, to varying degrees, in o rder to meet applicable building co des, accessibility standards, and accessibility guidelines.

How Do We Achieve "Equal Access"? Equal access must be an integral part o f the life-cycle pro cess: planning, pro gramming, design, co nstructio n, o peratio n, and maintenance o f buildings and facilities, no t an aftertho ught. Accessible features sho uld blend seamlessly with the design. All stakeho lders o n the pro ject sho uld wo rk to gether fro m the start to co o rdinate and o ptimize the design o f the site and the building. A building and its site sho uld be designed as an integrated who le, rather than as a co llectio n o f iso lated systems (see also WBDG Functio nal—Ensure Appro priate Pro duct/Systems Integratio n). Design and co nstructio n decisio ns impact accessibility. Single building elements o r systems sho uld no t be added, deleted, o r mo dified anytime in the life o f the building until they are co o rdinated and evaluated with the o ther elements and systems in the who le building package and with all parties invo lved. Keep in mind that "equal access" applies to pro grams, services, benefits, transpo rtatio n, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, emplo yment o ppo rtunities, and techno lo gy. The Rehabilitatio n Act o f 19 73 pro hibits discriminatio n o n the basis o f disability in aspects o f all pro grams co nducted by Federal agencies, in pro grams receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal emplo yment, in the emplo yment practices o f Federal co ntracto rs, and in Federal pro curement practices. BACK TO TO P

RELEVANT CODES AND STANDARDS Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Fair Ho using Accessibility Guidelines Rehabilitatio n Act Unifo rm Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) BACK TO TO P

MAJOR RESOURCES WBDG Design Objectives Aesthetics, Co st-Effective, Functio nal / Operatio nal , Histo ric Preservatio n , Pro ductive, Secure / Safe, Sustainable Products and Systems Fenestratio n Systems—Exterio r Do o rs The majo r reso urce fo r guidance o n accessible design is the U.S. Access Bo ard (Access Bo ard). The Access Bo ard is an independent federal agency devo ted to accessibility fo r peo ple with disabilities. Key respo nsibilities o f the Bo ard include develo ping and maintaining accessibility requirements fo r the built enviro nment, transit vehicles, teleco mmunicatio ns equipment, and electro nic and info rmatio n techno lo gy; pro viding technical assistance and training o n these guidelines and standards; and enfo rcing accessibility standards fo r federally funded facilities. Fo r additio nal reso urces, see the Access Bo ard's Links Page.

Organiz at ions Internatio nal Co de Co uncil (ICC)—ICC is the secretariat fo r the ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. Natio nal Fire Pro tectio n Asso ciatio n (NFPA)—NFPA 72 Natio nal Fire Alarm Co de

Federal Agencies Department o f Ho using and Urban Develo pment (HUD) Office o f Fair Ho using and Equal Oppo rtunity (FHEO)—HUD enfo rces the Fair Ho using Act and has issued guidelines under this law (the Fair Ho using Accessibility Guidelines ) which co ver multi-family ho using. Info rmatio n is also available o n ho w to file a co mplaint with HUD under the Fair Ho using Act. HUD's website also addresses access under Sectio n 50 4 o f the Rehabilitatio n Act . Department o f Justice (DOJ) —DOJ o ffers technical assistance o n the ADA Standards fo r Accessible Design and o ther ADA pro visio ns applying to public acco mmo datio ns and co mmercial facilities, including businesses, no npro fit service agencies, and state and lo cal go vernment pro grams and services; also pro vides info rmatio n o n ho w to file ADA

co mplaints. Many o f its technical assistance letters are available o nline. ADA Info rmatio n Line fo r do cuments, questio ns, and referrals: (8 0 0 ) 514-0 30 1 (vo ice) (8 0 0 ) 514-0 38 3 (TTY) Department o f Veterans Affairs (VA)— Accessibility Pro gram General Services Administratio n (GSA)—Natio nal Accessibility Pro gram U.S. Access Bo ard U.S. Air Fo rce— Air Fo rce Center o f Expertise fo r Accessibility U.S. Army—TI 800-01 Design Criteria, Chapter 7, Provision for Individuals with Physical Disabilities, Section 4, 20 July 19 9 8 . U.S. Navy—NAVFAC PDPS 94-01, Barrier Free Design Accessibility Requirements , 26 May 19 9 4 (Revised 1 June 19 9 7). U.S. Park Service U.S. Department o f Transpo rtatio n U.S. Po stal Service

Publicat ions The 1995 Accessible Building Product Guide by Jo hn P.S. Salmen and Julie QuarvePeterso n. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, Inc., 19 9 5. Access by Design by Geo rge A. Co vingto n and Bruce Hannah. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, Inc., 19 9 6 . The Accessibility Checklist—User's Guide by Susan Go ltsman, ASLA, Timo thy A. Gilbert, ASLA and Wo hlfo rd, Steven D. Berkeley, CA: MIG Co mmunicatio ns, 19 9 2. The Accessible Housing Design File by Barrier Free Enviro nments, Inc. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, Inc., 20 10 . The ADA Answer Book by Building Owners and Managers Asso ciatio n Internatio nal (BOMA). 19 9 2. Mechanical Lift Analysis (Accessibility Method for Accommodation of Physically Disabled People in the U.S. Courthouse Courtrooms) The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0 by The Center fo r Universal Design. No rth Caro lina State University: 0 1 Apr 19 9 7. Universal Design Handbook by Wo lfgang F.E. Preiser and Elaine Ostro ff. New Yo rk, NY: McGraw-Hill Co mpanies, 20 0 1.

Ot hers Special thanks to Lex Frieden fo r his inspiring wo rds in the speech "To ward a Barrier Free Wo rld fo r All," April 5, 20 0 1. BACK TO TO P

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providing equal access