The Final Review

Updated: New Illinois Accessibility Code is In Effect

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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.

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Illinois is one step closer to adopting long-awaited significant revisions to the state’s accessibility design and construction standards. The Illinois Capital Development Board’s (CDB) proposed Illinois Accessibility Code Amendments (IAC Amendments or Amendments) were published in the Illinois Register on February 9, 2018.The IAC Amendments’ publication opens a 45-day public comment period that gives interested stakeholders an opportunity to provide input before the Amendments become final.

Background to the IAC Amendment Process

The IAC implements the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA), the state statute pertaining to accessibility for people with disabilities. Amendments to the EBA were adopted in July 2016 and became effective on January 1, 2017. The state statute was amended, in part, to better align with the federal statute prohibiting discriminations against people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Covered Illinois entities must comply with both the EBA and ADA.

The current version of the IAC, 71 ILL. Admin. Code tit. 71, sec. 400 et. seq., became effective in April 1997. The CDB administers the IAC and is overseeing the revisions to the IAC, including the working group assisting with the Amendments.The IAC Amendments are intended to incorporate the EBA revisions and updates to the federal standards, as well as reduce inconsistencies between the IAC and the current federal regulations implementing the ADA’s accessibility provisions, the United States Department of Justice’s 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).

To adopt the IAC amendments, the CDB must follow the state’s formal rulemaking process overseen by the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) that begins with the publication of the proposed rule in the Illinois Register. However, to expedite the rulemaking process, the CDB previously sought stakeholder input and circulated a draft of the IAC Amendments prior to submitting them for official publication as a proposed rule.

Highlights of IAC Amendments

The CDB designed the IAC Amendments to make it easier to compare the IAC to the 2010 Standards. The IAC will now appear in 71 Ill Admin Code, Section 400.120, Appendix A so the numbering of the IAC chapters and sections tracks the numbering used in the 2010 Standards. In addition, wherever the IAC departs from the 2010 Standards, the language of the IAC appears in italics.

Eliminating Inconsistencies Between Codes

The IAC Amendments added revisions to better align the state code with the 2010 Standards in quite a number of ways. The following are some examples of these changes to the IAC

  • Now incorporates more of the federal requirements when estimating the cost of an alteration. For example, an alteration to a primary function area triggers path of travel requirements to make elements such as the entrance, route, toilet rooms, and drinking fountains accessible and can require spending up to, but not more than, 20 percent of the cost of the entire alteration
  • Two parking spaces may now share a common access aisle (Amendments do not allow a shared access aisle for diagonal parking)
  • Adopts the federal requirements for the number of guest rooms with mobility features that must be provided by transient lodging facilities
  • Incorporates federal standards for handrails, including the requirement that handrails extend one tread depth at the stair bottom
  • Adopts federal standards for signage, such as the 2010 Standards’ height requirements for placement of tactile signs above the finished floor

Areas Where IAC Amendments Depart from 2010 Standards

One of the biggest differences between the IAC Amendments and the 2010 Standards are the Amendments’ inclusion of the federal Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way (PROWAG) and Shared Use Paths, governing such areas as pedestrian access routes, pedestrian street crossings, curb ramps, detectable warning surfaces, accessible signals and push buttons, and signs. PROWAG, originally proposed in 2011 with revisions in subsequent years, has yet to be adopted as part of the federal standards. When CDB began its work on the IAC Amendments, there was optimism that PROWAG would soon become a final rule. However, with the change of federal administration, the adoption of PROWAG continues to be delayed.

Highlights of some of the other notable differences between the IAC and 2010 Standards are the IAC:

  • Applies to all public facilities and multi-story housing with state-specific requirements for multi-story housing
  • Addresses barrier removal only for existing facilities constructed May 1, 1988, or after (different from federal Safe Harbor provision)
  • References additional standards relevant to the IAC and provides definitions unique to IAC to align with EBA and incorporate PROWAG
  • Requires Statement of Compliance by an architect or engineer for projects with the cost of construction or alteration of $50,000 or more
  • Mandates that 20 percent of the units in multi-story housing that began construction after May 1, 1988, must be adaptable
  • Has state-specific requirements regarding alterations that may threaten a historically significant building or facility (authority to make these determinations is delegated to the state by the 2010 Standards)
  • Includes state-specific exceptions to the requirement that multi-story buildings and facilities have a minimum of one accessible route connecting the different floors and mezzanine
  • Requires accessible parking space signs to display the dollar amount of the state or local fine and be mounted following the state requirements

It is important to be aware that the IAC Amendments have their own enforcement provisions. The Illinois Attorney General (IAG) is responsible for enforcing the state requirements, including investigating violations.The Amendments contain state-specific penalty provisions for violations such as a penalty of up to $250 a day for each day of violation by the owner. An architect or engineer who submits a plan that doesn’t comply with EBA may have their license suspended or revoked. The Amendments also provide a catch-all that allows the IAG to bring “an action for any other appropriate relief” for violations of EBA.

The Future of the IAC Amendments

The CDB will accept comments on the Amendments until March 26, 2018. They must be submitted in writing to: Lisa Mattingly Administrator of Professional Services Capital Development Board 401 S. Spring Street 3rd Floor Stratton Building Springfield IL 62706; or email to: lisa.mattingly@illinois.gov

It will still be many months before the IAC Amendments are final. Once the CDB considers the comments and makes any changes, the Amendments must be sent to JCAR and members of the legislature for review. The rules will only be adopted once this review and any additional changes are completed.

This post was last updated on October 31st, 2018.

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