In our February newsletter, we noted a public meeting held at the United States Access Board (USAB) in Washington DC to consider public comments on the proposed changes to the 2009 edition of ICC A117.1. On July 14-16, the USAB met again to approve / disapprove some of the proposed changes to ICC/ANSI A117.1.
During that meeting, the USAB Committee approved the increase in the diameter of the turning space of a wheelchair from 60 inches to 67 inches as well as an increase in clear floor area from 30x48 to 30x52.
A representative of the Target Corporation had argued that a study, which lead the Committee to propose the new dimensional increases, included only 500 participants from a localized geographic area.
Target offered feedback from people across the nation who visit their stores, totaling nearly 36 million transactions per week.
They found that of the guests who contacted them in 2012, the percentage of comments related to accessibility of the building was limited to an extremely small fraction of less than .0003% of 1%. Of that fraction of 1%, an even smaller fraction of those comments were related to concerns about floor space for wheeled mobility devices.
"This tells us that the current sizes and dimensions in the existing Standard work, as-is, for the greater majority of guests using wheeled mobility devices. The data presents no compelling evidence or reason to change the existing dimension."
Target went on to argue that:
"..in the past we've had the luxury of being able to make buildings larger. However that luxury is increasingly limited in today's environment. The cost comes in what will subsequently be able to fit within in these buildings that are experiencing a compound squeeze (squeezed smaller in footprint on the outside, but interior spaces pushed larger from within). From a retail perspective, this will reduce capacity for merchandise offerings. What could once be provided on store shelves may no longer be available due to compromised available space for shelving to house merchandise, having a negative impact on guest's shopping trips."
It's coming but not soon...
Although approved by the USAB Committee, it is not yet law.
The process cycle of Meetings, Committee Action Reports, Balloting, and other Draft Reviews continues until the Committee stops making additional changes and amendments.
At the end of this process, the Committee takes one final vote to publish the revised standard. Only then will there be a new edition of the standard.
The new standard is then available for jurisdictions to adopt; an then available for the IBC to reference.
So...It's going to be a while before these changes become enforceable by the building code..but it's coming....I'll keep you posted.