Fall 2006

United Spinal’s Accessibility Services Team Kicks-Off Work as Education Providers with the International Codes Council (ICC)

By Dominic Marinelli, Director, Accessibility Services

United Spinal Association continues to expand the locations where their Accessibility Services team provides Accessibility Training to code enforcement officials, design professionals, safety managers and builders. As one of the longest tenured education providers for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), providing continuing education to architects since 1988, the team will now be able to provide continuing education to code enforcement officials in those jurisdictions that reference the International Building Code as education partners of the International Codes Council (ICC).

Courtesy of the International Codes Council

The ICC is a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention that develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the ICC – see green states in map above.
For the past year, United Spinal Association has been working with the ICC on the presentation of trainings in jurisdictions whose codes for multi-family dwellings are not as restrictive as the requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FH Act).

These non safe harbor states were identified as part of a Fair Housing Initiatives grant that the two organizations received from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information on this initiative please visit: http://www.iccsafe.org/safety/fairhousing/

The first classes that United Spinal provided as education providers for the ICC were presented at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 6th & 7th and focused on the latest state and federal accessibility requirements for commercial and methods to achieve compliance with the FH Act for residential occupancies.

For additional information on Continuing Education on Accessibility Requirements please contact Dominic Marinelli at 716-828-9139 or dmarinelli@unitedspinal.org

2006 International Codes Council Annual Conference in Orlando

By Linda Volpe, Compliance Specialist

About the Conference

Accessibility Services participated in the 2006 International Codes Council (ICC) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. During this twelve-day conference, interested individuals or groups participate in hearings by either supporting or opposing code change proposals to various International Codes, including but not limited to, the International Building Code (IBC), the International Existing Building Code (IEBC), the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Residential Code (IRC). These proceedings offer an opportunity to openly debate code change proposals before a committee comprised of representatives from across the construction industry, including code regulators and construction industry representatives, ensuring a consensus of the construction community in the decision-making process.

One major advantage of ICC’s consensus-based code development process is that it allows both the ICC code development committees and eligible voting members at the code change hearings to participate in establishing the results of each proposal. Voting members may either ratify the committee’s recommendation or make their own recommendation. The results of all votes are published in the report of the ICC code development hearings.

Eligible voting members of each of the model code groups review the recommendations of the ICC code development committee at their annual conference and determine the final action. Following consideration of all public comments, each proposal is individually polled by the eligible voters. The final action on the proposals in based on the aggregate count of all votes cast. This important process ensures that the International Codes will reflect the latest technical advances and address the concerns of those throughout the industry in a fair and equitable manner.

United Spinal Proposals

United Spinal Association was the proponent of several accessibility-related code changes to the IBC, IFC and IEBC. Here is a brief summary of our proposals:

  • E38 Part II – this proposal that was approved by the Fire Safety Committee requires fire evacuation plans to include procedures for assisted rescue for persons unable to use the general means of egress unassisted; requires fire safety plans to include procedures for notifying, relocating or evacuating occupants who need assistance; and requires floor plans to identify exterior areas of rescue assistance.
  • E75 – this proposal that was approved by the Means of Egress Committee clarifies landing requirements for ramps in Groups R-2 and R-3 occupancies (apartments).
  • E176 – this proposal that was approved by the Means of Egress Committee ensures that accessible units in Group R-1 occupancies (transient occupancies) are offered the same bathing options as found in standard hotel/motel rooms.

Unfortunately, not all of our accessibility-related proposals were approved by the ICC committees. Accessibility Services will begin to work on modifying these proposals in hopes of getting them approved at the next round of hearings. There are two code changes in particular that we hope to see approved:

  • G201 and G205 – these proposals that were disapproved by the Means of Egress Committee and the Existing Building Code Committee require Type B dwelling units in existing facilities undergoing a alterations or additions.
  • E175 – this proposal that was disapproved by the Means of Egress Committee would add an exception that would permit Universal Units in lieu of Type A and Type B units. What is a Universal Unit? It’s essentially a Type B unit with two additional features: one adaptable bathroom based on ICC A117.1-1998 Type A requirements and maneuvering clearances at doors. In January, technical criteria for Universal Units will be proposed to the ICC A117.1 Development Committee.

Why are Universal Units a favorable option for builders and designers?

  • Universal Units incorporate basic dimensional features for people with disabilities.
  • Universal Units are more usable to people with disabilities than a Type B dwelling unit.
  • Universal Units do not include the more costly features required by Type A dwelling units, including the kitchen and 32 inch clear width at doors.
  • New York State has successfully implemented a requirement for “enhanced” Type B units, similar to Universal Units, since 2002.

What’s Next?

Accessibility Services plans on attending the ICC Codes Forum Final Action Hearings that are scheduled to take place May 21 -26, 2007 in Rochester, NY. Remember that any interested individual or group may submit a code change proposal and participate in the proceedings. Additional information about the ICC code development process can be found at: www.iccsafe.org. For additional information on United Spinal’s accessibility-related code proposals, please contact Linda Volpe at 518-945-1606 or lvolpe@unitedspinal.org.

ICC Accessibility Advisory Task Group Seeks Disability Organization Participation – Encourages DOJ to Adopt Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines

By Jennifer Perry, Compliance Specialist

The Accessibility Advisory Task Group to the International Code Council (ICC) Government Relations Department was formed in order to provide a better understanding, by ICC, of individual and collective needs of the accessibility community with respect to the non-technical aspects of building codes and standards and identification of initiatives that should be undertaken by ICC to foster collaboration and meet those needs. The scope of activities of the Task Group includes: advocacy, policy direction, implementation of access standards, communications, outreach, and similar activities. Currently, the Accessibility Advisory Task Group is developing a letter to encourage the US Department of Justice to adopt the revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines that were published by the Access Board on July 26, 2004 and the Task Group is seeking the participation of disability organizations that are stakeholders in ensuring accessibility of the built environment.

The first meeting of the GR Accessibility Advisory Task Group (AATG) was held on January 5, 2006 and groups participating in the task group include: the United Spinal Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, U.S. Access Board, National Council on Disabilities, and the Washington State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, among others. Action items initiated by the AATG include: encouraging greater participation from disability groups in the code development process; harmonizing the I-Codes with other federal requirements; and helping federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice, apply the accessibility provisions of the I-Codes in their own facilities.

The Task group is interested in broadening the types of disability groups represented on the committee in order to ensure that as many people with disabilities as possible are included in the group’s advisory efforts to ICC. The task group is currently seeking the participation of disability organizations that are interested in encouraging the US DOJ to adopt the revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines, as no action has been taken by DOJ to revise these regulations since the publication of the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on September 30, 2004. The intent of this rulemaking is to adopt requirements consistent with the revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines published by the U.S. Access Board on July 23, 2004. The revised guidelines, which will apply to the design, construction and alteration of any private or public facility subject to the ADA, are the result of ten years of collaborative efforts between the federal government, disability groups, the design and construction industry, state and local government entities and codes and standards organizations, such as the ICC. The Accessibility Advisory Task Group members want to ensure that the revised guidelines become a DOJ enforceable standard in order to improve access for people with disabilities.

If you would like to learn more about the advocacy efforts of the Accessibility Advisory Task Group, or if your organization would like to be included in the Task Group’s letter to the US DOJ encouraging the adoption of the revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines, you may contact Jennifer Perry, Compliance Specialist, for additional information at jperry@unitedspinal.org.

Professional Certification

By John Rooney, Compliance Specialist

Have you ever thought of pursuing professional certification, how the process works and how to go about it? A good place to start is the International Code Council (ICC). ICC offers a certification program in areas such as Residential Inspection, Fire Inspection and Code Enforcement and within in these categories there are subcategories such as Residential Plumbing Inspector, Fire Plans Examiner and Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner. Generally you can become certified by getting a passing score on an exam in the category of your choice. Certification is a way of demonstrating that you possess a basic level of competency and understanding in a specific category. This can be very attractive to current or prospective employers. Professional certification also shows a commitment to and knowledge of an individual’s specialized field.

I became certified as an Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner in 2001 and know first hand that it gives me a level of credibility when I answer technical questions or provide seminars for building code officials and architects. Although I used the codes and reference standards in my job everyday; preparing for the exam really added to my knowledge and abilities to apply that knowledge.

I became very interested in the examination development process and applied to ICC to be a member of the 2006 Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner Development Committee. I was chosen as an alternate for the 2006 committee and due to a committee member’s scheduling conflict I was able to participate in the annual committee meetings. This year the meetings were held in Las Vegas and ran from August 9 through August 11.

I had the good fortune of serving on a committee that consisted of dedicated, experienced individuals with a vast knowledge of the subject matter and testing process. The ICC staff members were invaluable to our work and provided guidance and direction that made our endeavor both productive and enjoyable. Our work involved checking to ensure that test questions were both relevant and valid base on recent changes of the code and reference standard. We also had to rate questions on their level of difficulty in order to ensure that the test measured competence and understanding reliably. The process was very interesting and I got a hand’s on appreciation of the work involved in making sure that the examination is fair, reliable and valid.

I found this committee work very fulfilling and as a result I have applied to be on the 2007 ICC Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner Development Committee. If you are interested in pursuing a professional certification or are interested in getting involved with committee service please visit the International Code Council website at: www.iccsafe.org/certification

United States Access Board’s Courthouse Access Advisory Committee to
Present Report in November

By Kleo King, Program Counsel

United Spinal has a staff member who serves on the Courthouse Access Advisory Committee, which the Access Board organized to promote accessible courthouse design. The Committee is scheduled to present its recommendations to the Access Board at its meeting on November 15th. The Committee’s report will provide design solutions and best practices for ensuring access to courthouses, including courtrooms, which pose unique challenges to accessibility. The report will also include recommendations to the Access Board on effective ways to disseminate this information through various outreach and partnership opportunities.

Chartered in October 2004, the Committee’s 35 members include courthouse designers, disability groups, members of the judiciary, court administrators, and other interested persons. Over the past two years, the Committee met in different cities across the country and toured a variety of courthouses at each location to collect information upon which to base its recommendations. The Committee visited local, state, and Federal courthouses in Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

The Committee’s recommendations will provide guidance on achieving accessibility in courthouses without compromising traditional and necessary design features. The Committee will also propose strategies for promoting this guidance through websites, design guides, training, and outreach. For further information, visit the Access Board’s website at www.access-board.gov/caac/index.htm.

PEPSICO Enabling People with Disabilities

By Dominic Marinelli and Linda Volpe

During the past year, United Spinal Association has worked with the PepsiCo family, which includes Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana, to improve employment opportunities and accessibility for people with disabilities.

The initiative began during the fall of 2005 when the leadership of PepsiCo invited United Spinal to participate in a day-long meeting focusing on the varying abilities of employees and customers. Throughout the day, staff members from United Spinal discussed issues impacting people with disabilities with PepsiCo management.

“We were specifically asked if we could do site assessments and think ‘outside the box,’ Kleo King, United Spinal’s Associate Executive Director for Accessibility Services said.

“The answer was a resounding ‘yes!’”

United Spinal began to work with PepsiCo’s Enable Network on identifying ways to better accommodate an employee with a disability who may work in one of the many different types of employment areas offered by PepsiCo. .

The goal of the Enable Network is to provide guidance that ensures the inclusion of people with different abilities in all aspects of PepsiCo’s business and culture, including employees, consumers, partners and suppliers. In addition, the Enable Network advocates externally by leading through example.

“Our Enable Network also focuses on enabling people with different abilities to fully demonstrate their capabilities by eliminating or reducing physical and cultural job barriers across our company and by expanding recruitment and professional development opportunities,“ PepsiCo’s Manager of Facilities Planning, Constance Van Rhyn said.

Members of United Spinal Association’s Accessibility Services team began to apply their experience in accessibility requirements and barrier-free design to what would often be exempt areas and facilities.

“While making suggestions to improve access to public spaces and offices within the Pepsi family was easy, what the Enable group asked us for was to apply the Basic Principles of Accessibility to their industrial settings, to the actual assembly-lines where their beverages and snack products were packaged, “Clair Hesselton, United Spinal’s President said.

“Our Accessibility Specialists were asked to make suggestions on ways where an assembly line could accommodate a wheelchair user or how important messages could reach employees with hearing disabilities who could not hear intercom announcements over the noise level of all the machinery.”

So far, United Spinal has reviewed and provided comments to improve access provided at PepsiCo’s Gatorade Facility in Indianapolis, the headquarters campuses for Frito-Lay in Plano, Texas and Quaker-Tropicana-Gatorade in Chicago, and Tropicana’s manufacturing complex in Bradenton, Florida.
“Things that we never considered before – like the height of emergency eye-wash stations that would have to be lowered if we hired a wheelchair user to work on one of our grade level assembly-lines, or how everyone would benefit from the addition of visually contrasting color strips on stairs (risers) to raised areas of the plant,” Lance Oxley; Indianapolis/Gatorade Plant Manager said.

In some instances, where it was possible to make accommodations to a work area, the great distance between facilities within the Tropicana plant complex was a problem.

“It was extremely hard to identify an exterior accessible route to the different buildings in Bradenton,” Linda Volpe, United Spinal Compliance Specialist said.

“There are literally miles between some of the buildings.”

A potential solution – purchase an accessible golf cart so an employee with a disability can get from place to place easier.

“Everyone uses a golf cart to get around the Tropicana complex, “Dan Tellor, Plant Engineering Manager of the Bradenton/Tropicana facility said.

United Spinal’s Accessibility Services staff will present an update on a variety of accessibility issues and applications to plant and facility Managers at PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, New York on Friday, September 29th. To emphasize the mission of the Enable Network, United Spinal will also present workshops on Florida’s Unique Accessibility Requirements to design and code enforcement professionals at Tropicana’s state of the art conference spaces to host upcoming workshops on accessibility requirements.

In addition to the work Accessibility Services is doing with PepsiCo, United Spinal is also developing a presentation on Disability Etiquette with PepsiCo’s Human Resources Department.

“The past year working with PepsiCo has been rewarding and we expect to continue and expand our relationship in the future, “said Hesselton.



If I convert existing residences into a Bed and Breakfast, do I have to provide accessible bedrooms, accessible bathrooms and an accessible route to these areas?


The Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines (ADAAG) has an exception that is commonly referred to as the “Bed and Breakfast” exception. Section 9.1.1 of ADAAG states that accessibility is not required for “an establishment located within a building that contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and that is actually occupied by the proprietor of such an establishment as the residence of such proprietor.”

If your conversion does not meet the definition of a Bed and Breakfast that is provided in Section 9.1.1 of ADAAG, then Section 9.1.5 of ADAAG would be applicable.

Section 9.1.5 of ADAAG requires that at least one accessible sleeping room or suite is provided for every 25 sleeping rooms, or fraction thereof, of rooms being altered until the number of such rooms provided equals the number of accessible rooms required by section 9.1.2. In addition there are requirements to accommodate persons with hearing disabilities.

This answer is based on ADA requirements. Please refer to your state and local building code in order to determine if there are more stringent requirements in your jurisdiction.