The Final Review

Draft Amendments to the Illinois Accessibility Code

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The Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) has just released their draft amendments to the Illinois Accessibility Code, the regulations that contain Illinois’ design and construction standards for accessibility. The amendments to the Illinois Accessibility Code are primarily intended to align the regulations with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, the current federal rules implementing the accessibility provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, The CDB is providing an opportunity to comment on the changes prior to their being presented as a proposed rule as required by the formal rulemaking process. The CDB’s deadline for submitting comments on the Illinois Accessibility Code amendments is August 17, 2016.

Handicapped Ramp

Recent Illinois Environmental Barriers Act Amendments

The Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (Environmental Barriers Act), the Illinois law governing accessibility for people with disabilities, was recently amended. Governor Rauner signed the amendments into law on July 15, 2016, and they will become effective on January 1, 2017.

These recent changes to the Environmental Barriers Act removed some of the differences between the statute and the federal ADA. Compliance with both the ADA and Environmental Barriers Act is necessary in Illinois. Before the amendments to the Environmental Barriers Act, the discrepancies between the federal and state laws created confusion. Read our recent post for an overview of the Environmental Barriers Act amendments. However, to support aligning the Environmental Barriers Act with the ADA, it is also necessary to amend the Illinois Accessibility Code.

Opportunity to Comment Prior to Rule Being Proposed

The Illinois Accessibility Code is the set of regulations implementing the Environmental Barriers Act, and the CDB is charged with administering these regulations. The CDB, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and others have been working on amendments to the Illinois Accessibility Code so the regulations more closely follow the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.

For the amendments to the Illinois Accessibility Code to become formally adopted, they must be published in the Illinois Register as a proposed rule. This first publication of the rule begins a 45 day (or longer) public comment period. Once CDB considers the comments and makes any further changes, the proposed amendments will be sent to the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), the bipartisan committee that oversees rulemaking. The rule may be finalized after JCAR review.

The CDB decided to share the draft amendments and receive comments from stakeholder organizations before publishing them as a proposed rule. By doing so, the CDB is hoping to build consensus and avoid issues during the rulemaking process. In addition to the CDB receiving input by August 17, 2016, various organizations are seeking comments that will be consolidated and presented to the CDB. For example, AIA Illinois is collecting feedback. If you wish to submit your comments through AIA, they must be sent to AIA Illinois by August 11th at: council@aiail.org.

Changes to Illinois Accessibility Code

While the goal in amending in Illinois Accessibility Code is to make the Illinois rules more closely follow the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, they will still depart from the federal standards in some instances. CDB is preparing a summary sheet discussing the differences between the federal and revised Illinois requirements. However, the sections where the draft amendments to Illinois Accessibility Code depart from the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design are usually italicized (italics are also used for defined terms). Also, it should be noted that the draft Illinois amendments incorporate the federal Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way (PROWAG) and Shared Use Paths. Although PROWAG was proposed in 2011 and incorporated the Shared Use Paths proposed rules in 2013, they have not been formally adopted at the federal level.

CDB is hoping to submit the proposed Illinois Accessibility Code changes to JCAR in late August or the beginning of September. After this point, the proposed rule will appear in the Illinois Register. We plan to keep you updated as the amendments move through the rulemaking process.

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