The Final Review

Leah Riley

I have 16 years of code consulting experience, including advising on the Chicago Building Code, International Building Code, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and local accessibility requirements. Based on my work in the public and private sector, I bring a well-rounded perspective to my code compliance work. I have conducted numerous seminars to share my accessibility knowledge, including an interactive seminar entitled “What is wrong with this picture? Identifying the good, bad and ugly in ADA implementation.”
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Posts by Leah Riley

ICYMI: Understanding the new Chicago MOPD Form

Jan 14, 2020 6:30:00 AM

On January 2, 2020, The City of Chicago - Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) released an updated form in line with the Chicago Accessibility Code which was effective as of December 1, 2019 and applicable to all permit submittals moving forward. Burnham is here to update you on the implemented changes to the form related to alteration projects. 


Chicago Self Certification Classes Announced

Oct 21, 2019 11:15:50 AM

With the Modernized Chicago Building Code around the corner, there is plenty to forward to including Self-Certification Classes. 


How the Modernized CBC Will Drive Your Projects

Jul 31, 2019 9:00:00 AM

The intent of the Modernization Chicago Building Code has always been to be as a hybrid-removing outdated provisions, interjecting International Building Code standards where relevant while still maintaining some of the current requirements that were deemed important for our City to maintain.


Dissecting the Modernized Chicago Building Code: Administrative Provision

Jul 1, 2019 9:58:21 AM

When the City of Chicago proposed to update their building code; the was goal to better align the construction requirements with up-to-date model codes and standards used in other major US jurisdictions, while maintaining long standing  local requirements that are adapted to unique Chicago conditions. This revision has taken 40 years to get to and another 20 years to finally be implemented. 


City of Chicago Implements New Illinois Accessibility Code

Dec 4, 2018 9:30:00 AM

In October, the State of Illinois Capital Development Board accepted changes to the existing Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC), creating new state accessibility requirements.

The IAC is a set of regulations that implement the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA), the State of Illinois statute that pertains to accessibility for people with disabilities. Applicable entities in Illinois must comply with both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Environmental Barriers Act, alongside any additional code requirements enforced locally, including those in the City of Chicago.


New Illinois Accessibility Code Now in Effect

Nov 2, 2018 12:20:00 PM

The new Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC) was accepted at the October 16th, 2018 Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and as of October 23rd, 2018, the changes are now in effect. The Capital Development Board (CDB) will be releasing a searchable, user-friendly version of the Code in the future, but the new rules are available for review via the State of Illinois website at this time. 


Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in 2018

Jul 11, 2018 10:00:00 AM

In August 2016, we published a blog post highlighting a variety of municipal laws providing for gender-neutral bathrooms. We discussed gender-neutral bathroom requirements in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City. The post also noted that the ability of some municipalities to bring about changes is limited by state codes. We thought we would review developments regarding gender-neutral restrooms since our 2016 post.


Updated: New Illinois Accessibility Code is In Effect

Feb 21, 2018 10:30:00 AM

The new Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC) was accepted at the October 16th, 2018 Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and as of October 23rd, 2018, the new IAC is now in effect. The CDB will be releasing a searchable, user-friendly version of the Code in the future, but the rules are available for review here at this time.

The Illinois Accessibility Code is a set of regulations that implement the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, and applicable entities in Illinois must comply with both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Environmental Barriers Act. Previously, we summarized the changes to the code during the draft process. Look for an update of this soon. The IAC now more closely resembles the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design but does have a number of different and more restrictive requirements.

Although the new edition can be used immediately, projects currently in progress where a specific contract for planning has already been awarded prior to the effective date of the new IAC are exempt from compliance if construction begins within 12 months. Plans must comply with the version of the Code applicable at time of contract which would be the 1997 edition.


Commonly Overlooked ADA Bathroom Requirements

Nov 14, 2017 10:30:00 AM

It is essential to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) toilet and bathing room requirements. Non-compliance with the ADA’s requirements may prevent bathroom use by people with disabilities or cause injuries, and owners of properties who do not comply with the ADA’s bathroom requirements may invite compliance actions and lawsuits.


Are You Complying with the ADA’s Handrail Requirements?

Sep 26, 2017 8:00:00 AM

It is critical to be aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III’s requirements for handrails when designing and building new or renovated places of public accommodation and commercial facilities.

The ADA’s specific handrail requirements are found in the rules implementing the ADA, the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards), that incorporate the 2004 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) developed by the United States Access Board. It is essential to strictly adhere to these handrail requirements to be in compliance with the ADA.


Accessible Design: Chicago Adopts New Disability Rights Regulations

Jun 13, 2017 8:00:00 AM

New Chicago Human Rights Ordinance disability rights regulations governing accessibility will go into effect on July 1, 2017. Promulgated to provide greater clarity and alignment with federal requirements, these new regulations govern the accessibility of facilities, goods, and services of public accommodations. This post will specifically focus on the components of the new regulations governing accessible design.


San Francisco Law to Increase Buildings’ Disability Access

Feb 2, 2017 8:00:00 AM

In April 2016, San Francisco adopted legislation intended to increase access to businesses for people with disabilities. Ordinance No. 51-16, known as the Mandatory Disabled Access Improvements Ordinance (Ordinance), sets forth primary entrance requirements for owners of existing buildings that serve as places public accommodations. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (Department) is currently working on the details necessary for implementing and enforcing the new law that improves disability access.


Are You Compliant With the ADA’s Ramp Requirements?

Jan 18, 2017 8:00:00 AM

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III has very specific requirements for ramps when being used in newly constructed or renovated places of public accommodation and commercial facilities. At Burnham, we receive many questions about ramp ADA compliance and thought it would be useful to provide an overview of the statute’s ramp requirements.


Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way: When Will They be Finalized?

Sep 8, 2016 8:00:00 AM

We frequently receive questions about the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) that relate to the Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way (PROWAG). We're often responding to requests to explain the ADA’s curb ramp requirements covered by PROWAG, and although a draft of PROWAG has existed for a number of years, the guidelines are still only proposed rather than final. We thought it would be helpful to take a look at what the Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way cover and their current status.


Gender-Neutral Bathrooms: Code Conflicts?

Aug 10, 2016 8:00:00 AM

A growing number of municipalities are passing laws governing gender-neutral bathrooms. However, we are finding that sometimes the gender-neutral bathroom laws are limited by existing code requirements, particularly those imposed by plumbing codes that need to be updated. In other instances, architectural designs to more easily incorporate gender-neutral bathrooms are conflicting with code requirements. We thought we would take a look at some of the different municipal gender-neutral bathroom ordinances and how codes may be limiting their reach.


A Misunderstood Area of ADA Compliance: Existing Facilities

Jun 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for existing facilities are a source of great confusion. We periodically encounter building owners or managers who believe the ADA only applies to new construction or alterations; and therefore, buildings that existed prior to the ADA’s enactment do not need to be accessible. However, the ADA does require the removal of barriers to accessibility in older buildings, and it is critical to understand the precise circumstances when such barrier removal is needed for ADA compliance.


Sidewalk Accessibility: Proposed Standards for Sidewalk Smoothness

Jun 8, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Rough surfaces can impact sidewalk accessibility for people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users. The United States Access Board (Access Board), the federal agency responsible for creating accessibility guidelines, has sponsored research on surface roughness and the development of a standard for measuring sidewalk smoothness. In this post, we will take a look at the research and the proposed standard to make sidewalks more accessible.


ADA Building Requirements for Elevators

Apr 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

At Burnham Nationwide, our code team conducts reviews and site inspections for accessibility compliance, and we often see elevators that are not designed or installed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is critical to understand the ADA requirements for elevators when constructing or renovating a place of public accommodation or commercial facility where vertical accessibility is required - to avoid these mistakes, we're highlighting some of the ADA requirements for elevators below. 


ADA Shower Requirements: We Answer Your Questions

Mar 11, 2016 8:54:00 AM

Complying with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is required by federal law for all places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities. The law was put in place to ensure people with disabilities’ safe entrance and use of public buildings.

We know the laws of ADA can be quite challenging to comply with, and every day we are asked specific questions by our clients on how they can make their buildings safer and more accessible by meeting ADA requirements. To help, we are sharing with you a specific question that we answered in regards to ADA shower requirements.


Why You Shouldn't Ignore California ADA Requirements

Feb 18, 2016 12:30:00 PM

While you’re busy making sure your California construction or renovation project is properly permitted, don’t forget that every public, as well as many employee areas of the building must comply with the California Building Code Chapter 11 requirements, which incorporates the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ensuring compliance in the construction phase will save time and money down the road, not only for owners but also for those involved in the process. Even years after the construction has been completed, ADA compliance complaints can still be filed.