The Access Board recently issued the revised design guidelines that cover access for people with disabilities under the ADA. According to Jan Tuck, Vice Chair of the Board, “These guidelines are our guarantee that when a building is built or renovated anywhere in the nation, its doors are wide open to our citizens with disabilities.” The revised ADA guidelines are the culmination of a comprehensive, ten–year–long review of the original ADAAG first published in 1991.
The goal of updating the guidelines was to make them more consistent with model building codes, to make them easier to comply with through a new format, and to keep pace with technological innovations.
The updates were based largely on recommendations from the ADAAG Review Advisory Committee and over 2,500 comments received from the public, including many from SHHH members, during an open comment period.
Brenda Battat, SHHH director of policy and development was invited to attend the event representing people with hearing loss. SHHH was a member of two advisory subcommittees that made recommendations for revisions to telephone, two–way communication, alarm, and assistive listening system requirements. SHHH advocated for several years for refining the requirements to improve access for people with hearing loss. They were successful in getting many of the recommendations into the final rule but not all.
New Requirements of Interest to People with Hearing Loss: (Numbers are references to the ADAAG document.)
706. Technical standards for assistive listening systems (ALS) are spelled out for the first time. This is to ensure consistency of sound quality, internal noise, signal–to–noise ratio, signal strength, and boost in all systems. There is also a requirement that receivers include a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) standard mono jack so that users can use their own attachment as necessary.
216.10. Signage for ALS. Each assembly area required to provide ALS shall post the International symbol of Access for Hearing Loss. But where signs are posted at ticket offices or windows, signs shall not be required at each assembly area.
706.3. Neckloop attachment requirement. This is a new requirement to ensure that people with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and telecoils have the appropriate attachment to use the assistive listening system receivers.
217.4. Increased number of TTYs to be installed in public places.
217.1. A “bank” of telephones shall be considered to be two or more adjacent telephones.
217.3. ALL public telephones required to have volume control. This is increased from 25% in the original ADA. The volume control should provide a gain up to at least 20 decibels and an intermediate gain of 12 decibels, and have an automatic reset.
219.3. 25% of assistive listening system receivers but no fewer than two, shall be hearing aid compatible. Receivers shall be provided for assistive listening devices according to a sliding scale spelled out in Table 1 219.3. The number of assistive listening devices required in large sports facilities was lowered.
224.4. Guest rooms in hotels and motels shall provide communication access devices in accordance with a sliding scale spelled out in Table 224.4. The number of rooms with accessible communication features has been made consistent with the International Building Code (IBC) as follows: 2–25 rooms (2), 26–50 (4), 51–75 (7), 76–100 (9), 101–150 (12), 151–200 (14), 201–300 (17), 301–400 (20), 401–500 (22), 501–1,000 (5% of total), 1,001 and over (50, plus 3 for each 100 over 1,000.
Telephones in guest rooms must have volume control and be served by an accessible outlet not more than 4 feet away to facilitate the use of a TTY.
224.5 Not more than 10 percent of guest rooms required to provide mobility features shall be used to satisfy the minimum number of guest rooms required to provide communication access features.
702.1. Fire alarm systems, audible and visual, shall be PERMANENTLY installed.
The requirements for fire alarm systems are not spelled out but reference the NFPA 72, Chapter 4 (702.1) (1996) and the ANSI A117.1 standards. However, the ADAAG lowered the maximum sound level for audible alarms to 110 decibels instead of 120 decibels as being more appropriate and to guard against tinnitus.
806.3 Hotel guest rooms should provide telephone interface jacks that are compatible with both digital and analog signal use.
708. Two–Way Communication Systems. These systems must provide audible and visual signals.
Copies of the new ADAAG are available from the Access Board’s website at http://www.access-board.gov