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Posts tagged ‘accessibility’

ADA/MCE Day August 24, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018
$110 AIA Members; $150 Non-members. Includes light breakfast and lunch
Click here to register


Attorney and accessibility expert Jan Garrett, CASp presents the full five-hours of education required for your 2019 California license renewal. Click here to register.  5 CES/HSW/MCE LUs
$110 AIA members; $150 Non-members. Light breakfast & lunch included.

A Social History of Accessibility

pg. 5 mikiten

Erick Mikiten, AIA, LEED-AP Mikiten Architecture

I’m writing this month’s column on MLK Day, through the lens of social history. Disability rights has made a long journey from the terrifying days of Eugenics, isolation and sterilization to the ADA’s vision of full rights and inclusion in society.

The 14th Amendment (1868) vs. Eugenics (1900s)

A long and ugly history preceded any legal protection for people with disabilities (see timeline). In 1868, the 14th Amendment gave citizenship and equal protection to all people born in the US. 1868! Yet in the 1920s, the Eugenics movement spread around the globe. It was started by Francis Galton, who analyzed the intelligence of England’s upper classes and determined that “it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations.”

In the early 1900s, the Eugenics Record Office in Long Island collected data on “undesirable” physical and intellectual traits and by 1931, 29 states had sterilization laws that allowed doctors to ‘eliminate negative traits,’ resulting in the forced sterilization of 64,000 people in the US. It started with people with disabilities and expanded to people committing “crimes” like promiscuity or poverty. No equal protection there!

This chilling poster is just one example of the movement’s propaganda. Nazi Germany actually worked with the California Government in the 30’s to learn about formalizing their own social cleansing programs.

It took eighty-six years from the 14th Amendment until Brown vs. the Board of Education abolished segregation in schools and another ten before the Civil Rights Act gave deeper protections.

The Civil Rights Act and Class Status (1964)

One legal legacy from the Civil Rights Act is “Class Status,” which defines a group and enables the government to establish protections for the members. These applied to race, color, religion, national origin, sex…but not to people with disabilities. It wasn’t until 1973, 105 years after the 14th Amendment, that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act required equal treatment of people with disabilities – but only for federally-funded programs. So for two decades after the Civil Rights Act, people with disabilities could still be legally marginalized. It wasn’t until 1988 that the Fair Housing Amendments Act established people with disabilities as a protected class, and laid the foundation for the ADA.

The ADA (1990) – Universal Design (TheFuture) Because Separate is Not Equal

This photo of people with disabilities protesting against inaccessible public transportation is one of my favorites, where one protestor’s sign reads “I can’t even get to the back of the bus.” Disability rights protests proliferated, modeled on the Civil Rights Movement. They included sit-ins, building occupations, marches, and people chaining themselves to buses as they demanded equal treatment. This highlights the Separate But Equal concept that the Supreme Court under Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1896 said was ‘good enough.’ Separate But Equal allowed the Jim Crow laws that formalized segregation until 1954, when Brown vs. Board of Education desegregated schools. And to think I attended Holmes High School in Texas without knowing this. Ugh.

Unfortunately, the Separate But Equal concept sowed the idea that is still in many people’s minds today in the building professions: that a ramp on the side of a building, or a separate accessible restroom is fine; that people should be thankful to get into buildings at all and not complain about how that happens.

We all know that winning civil rights protections doesn’t mean equality has been won. Similarly, rights for people with disabilities didn’t arrive with Section 504 or the ADA – equal employment, opportunities to use public transportation and equal facilities in buildings are not yet fully achieved.

For that, we need to wake up to the reality that changes in ability are part of a human life, and that crudely applied bare minimums are actually poor design. Instead, let’s strive for universal design as the ideal, and together we’ll create an environment that is elegantly human and fundamentally just.

Codes: Accessible Means of Egress (MOE)

Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp

Kerwin says:

When the first accessibility standards were developed (i.e. ANSI – A117.1), there were no provisions for accessible means of egress. The primary focus was to allow the disabled to enter and use a building. It may have been assumed that if you can enter, one could leave, but the approach is not the same. The philosophy, at least in high-rise buildings, has been to notify the floor below and two floors above the floor of incident. The fire alarm system does not sound a total building signal for evacuation. Once a signal has been initiated, occupants should evacuate using the MOE system within the building. Elevators have been, for the longest of time, signed to state “Do not use in an emergency.” This has all changed since 9/11.

So when an evacuation signal is initiated, what does a disabled person need to do?

Although Chapter 11A and B are not changing, there are other sections of the Code in the IBC which affect disabled access. Exiting requirements will remain in Chapter 10, but will also include IBC requirements for means of egress (MOE) for the disabled.

Under the 2015 IBC, the following are considered accessible means of egress elements:

• Elevators, Section 1009.2.1

• Areas of refuge, Section 1009.6

• Horizontal exits, Section 1026

Section 1009.2.1 of the 2015 IBC and 2016 CBC, requires buildings with accessible floors located four or more stories above or below the level of discharge that at least one accessible means of egress be by elevator. Additionally, elevator access is required to be associated with an area of refuge or a horizontal exit. Under the CBC and the ADA, areas of refuge are seldom incorporated into the design because buildings have been monitored by automatic sprinkler systems. The area of refuge will be required either within a stair enclosure, as shown in the illustration from the IBC Commentary, or an area that provides direct access to a stair or accessible elevator. Buildings and floors with sprinklers and a horizontal exit would be exempt from the requirements for areas of refuge. Although the activation of sprinklers allows time for occupants to exit a building, sprinklers alone do not provide equal facilitation for all occupants. A sprinkler system may limit the growth and spread of a fire, but smoke may continue to be generated and move through the building.

Although areas of refuge and horizontal exits do provide an additional protection from products of combustion (smoke and heat).

pg. 5 mikiten

Erick Mikiten, AIA, LEED-AP

Erick says:

An important point that Kerwin mentions is the idea of equivalency. When we create an area of refuge, imagine the experience of a person using a wheelchair, in an emergency, being “trapped” in that enclosure while everyone escapes past, leaving them behind. Even though the Area of Refuge is a relatively safe spot, getting to the public way is better.

A horizontal exit is a more equitable solution; everyone exits together to a fire-separated portion of the building. I find lots of architects don’t know exactly what a horizontal exit is, so certainly few laypeople do. And Kerwin is right that they are not well signed.

Although you can’t always avoid an area of refuge, I encourage you to first try hard to exit everyone directly to grade. Establish this in your earliest diagrams of your project, and it will be easier to incorporate. As a second-best option, use horizontal exits that are well-signed. You may also find other advantages, such as reduction of the number of required exit stairs, when you incorporate horizontal exits. But I think the biggest benefit is that you’ll be treating your building users more equitably.

Codes: What’s in a Symbol?

pg. 5 mikiten

Erick Mikiten, AIA

Erick Says:

Let’s examine something we seepg. 4 symbol 1 everywhere, but gets little attention: the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA). This familiar symbol, created by Rehabilitation International (RI) in 1968, originally had no head! Thankfully, it quickly grew one, and became the icon for accessible features.

RI set protocols for applying the symbol in 1978, which were picked up by the United Nations (UN), International Organization of Standardization (ISO), the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and building codes around the globe. Everyone agreed that the symbol would help people navigate the environment: a powerful idea.

When I travel as a wheelchair rider, especially to countries with different accessibility requirements, the ISA gives me immediate cues as to how to access a building or service. Without this guidance, one flounders around, knocking on doors, asking strangers, searching for access.

While the ISA is powerful (RI claims that it is one of the five most recognized symbols in the world), it is tired and ready for an upgrade.

pg. 4 symbol 2Look at the familiar image on the right. The figure (even with a head) is angular and stiff. It’s static, immobile and passive; it says “Push Me.”

Now examine the alternative symbol on the left. pg. 4 symbol 3It’s active and self-determined. It’s rounded like an actual human. It says , “coming through!” This symbol reflects the reality that disability means something different than it did even ten years ago, not to mention in 1968.

Perceptions are shifting. High-tech advances in prosthetic limbs and mobility equipment are changing the game. Images like these photos are all over the media. Focus is shifting from disability to expanding abilities. And the perception of disability is turning the corner from marginal, to mainstream cool.

Consider how omnipresent the old ISA symbol is. It’s in every parking lot, on building entrances, street parking signs, bus doors, restroom doors, pathways, and more. If this was a corporate symbol, would it have remained unchanged for so long? No way! The advertising industry of Madison Avenue would have been all over it.

In comparison, think about the changes Apple, Inc. (or AT&T, or UPS, etc.) has made over the years, reflecting their style and updating their image with the times.

It’s time to apply this thinking to accessible design, to create a more accurate expression of people with disabilities. Section 103 of the ADA and 11B-103 of the CBC are rarely-used sections about Equivalent Facilitation, and read: “Nothing in these requirements prevents the use of designs, products, or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability.” This new symbol reads as clearly as the old one, and should be accepted by any building official.

Our firm uses this symbol and building departments have loved it. We’re distributing the graphic and signage details in PDF and DWG in hopes that other architects will do the same. Submit a request on and we’ll share it with you. It just makes sense.

Madison Avenue teaches us that symbols carry a lot of meaning. And as it gets out there in the public view, so will this one.



Kerwin Says:

The basic intent of the ISA is to provide way finding for the disabled when the
accessible path is not obvious. This is most needed in buildings that have limited
access due to existing conditions. As more buildings become fully accessible under
the code, the need for the ISA should not be needed.

Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp
I CC – Certified Accessibility Inspector
and Plan Examiner
ICC – Certified Building Plan Examiner

MCE/ADA Day – June 19, 2015

MCE/ADA Day: Accessibility for California Architects
Friday, June 19, 2015 8:30am-3pm
Location: AIA East Bay, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $110 AIA Members / $150 non-membersIncludes coffee, fruit and lunch.
Please Click Here to Register


This month’s MCE/ADA Day emphasizes architects’ ability to changes peoples’ lives through design. In the morning session, Jan Garrett, Esq., will review universal design and accessibility standards and how they benefit people with disabilities. In the afternoon session, Ally Watts, AIA, CASp, will present tools for understanding and navigating Chapter 11B, providing examples of local design that are “elegant solutions” to ADA and CBC requirements. We encourage you to bring your copy of Chapter 11B to follow along.

Morning Session: Jan Garrett, Esq., Program Manager, Pacific ADA Center
Afternoon Session: Ally Watts, AIA, CASp

Provides the complete 5 hours of disability access coursework required for California Licensure.

MCE/ADA Day: April 24, 2015

MCE/ADA Day: Accessibility for California Architects
Friday, April 24, 2015 8:30am-3pm
Location: AIA East Bay, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $110 AIA Members / $150 non-membersIncludes coffee, fruit and lunch.
Online Registration is Currently Closed. Please call 510 464 3600 as we may still have spaces available.
Please Click Here to Register



Morning Session: Erick Mikiten, AIA

  • Connection between Universal Design and Sustainable Design will be discussed.
  • An explanation of the 7 principles of Universal Design.
  • Case studies of single-family and multifamily projects that demonstrate Universal Design.
  • A review of some of the key CBC changes that take effect in July.

Afternoon Session: Dawn Anderson, AIA, CASp

  • Mandatory improvements required under federal and state laws and regulations affecting alterations to primary function areas.
  • Scoping provisions/technical elements when considering improvements to existing buildings, including qualified historical properties, large developments, and public facilities.
  • Concepts such as “existing” construction, “primary path of travel”, “primary function areas”, “unreasonable hardship” and other terms will be reviewed.
  • Priority use of compulsory funding for the removal of architectural barriers and examples of effective solutions in architectural barrier removal will be presented.

Provides the complete 5 hours of disability access coursework required for California Licensure.

About the Presenters:

Erick Mikiten, AIA. Erick is the principal of Mikiten Architecture and was a lecturer and instructor at the University of California, Berkeley for several years. Erick is an expert in design for people with physical disabilities and currently sits on the Building Standards Commission, overseeing the development, adoption and publication of California’s building codes.

Dawn Anderson, AIA CASp. Dawn is the principal of As It Stands, a full-service architectural firm specializing in accessible design and construction in the built environment. The firm serves a variety of corporate, non-profit, and jurisdictional clients. Ms. Anderson participates nationally in the development of the ANSI A117 Standard and has served on California’s Division of State Architect Advisory code task force and the Commission on Disabled Access.

Learning Objectives

MCE/ADA Day: December 5, 2014

MCE/ADA Day: Accessibility for California Architects
Friday, December 5, 2014 8:30am-3pm
Location: AIA East Bay, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $110 AIA Members / $150 non-members Includes coffee, fruit and lunch.
Click Here to Register



Steven Winkel, FAIA CASp

Craig Williams, CASp

Provides the complete 5 hours of disability access coursework required for California Licensure.

Morning Session: California Building Code Chapter 11B for “Public Accommodations” and ADA Standards
Afternoon Session: Multifamily Accessibility

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify changes to the ADA Standards.
  2. Identify additional modifications to the ADAS by California in CBC Chapter 11B for Public Accommodations.
  3. State Key concepts pertaining to accessibility requirements which must be incorporated into the design and construction of multifamily housing covered by the regulations.
  4. Recognize some common accessibility errors in construction documents and in the field.

ADA Day: September 26, 2014

ADA Day: Accessibility for California Architects
Friday, September 26, 2014 8:30am-3pm
Location: AIA East Bay, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $110 AIA Members / $150 non-members Includes coffee, fruit and lunch.
Click here to register.


Jan Garrett, Esq., Program manager, Pacific ADA Center
Craig Williams, CASp

Provides the complete 5 hours of disability access coursework required for California Licensure.


Ed Roberts Campus, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

Universal Design is the concept of designing and creating built environments that are aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, irrespective of age, ability, or status in life.”

On this ADA Day our expert presenters, Jan Garrett and Craig Williams CASp, will take a deep-dive into Universal Design. This will include an in-depth look at creative responses and case studies, such as Berkeley’s universally designed, transit oriented Ed Roberts Campus, among others. The differences between ADA and CBC will also be addressed in detail as will enforceable standards, adherence to these standards, legal case studies/court cases and Title II of the ADA which applies to the operations of State and local governments. Ultimately, attendees will achieve an insight into creative responses to accessible/universal design, an updated understanding of the current standards being enforced and the ways in which the ADA/California law regulate and facilitate ‘accessibility’.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this program, attendees:

  1. Will be able to state at least three differences between the American with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and the California Building Code (CBC).
  2. Will be able to state two differences between Universal Design concepts and California Accessibility requirements.
  3. Will be able to give at least three examples of creative responses to the 2013 California Building Code accessibility requirements.
  4. Will be able to state at least three enforceable standards regarding public accommodations and how the standards should be implemented.

There’s No Place Like Home: Residential Aging in Place

a monthly program of the AIA East Bay

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
5:30-8pmCost: $15.75 AIA members and employees of chapter member firms; $20 non-members. All are welcome–click here to register!
Includes a wine & cheese networking reception after the presentation.


There’s No Place Like Home. Planning Today Can Keep People in Their Homes as They Age.

As we age, we don’t think about where we will live if we can no longer stay in our homes — that is, until it is too late.  An illness or injury can occur rapidly and unexpectedly.  Without proper advanced planning, older adults are forced to move in with their children, to an assisted living facility, or to a nursing home, often against their wishes.  But with a little planning up front, they can stay in their homes where they are comfortable, and for a lower cost than many other assisted living options.

Join the AIA East Bay for this entertaining and practical presentation on universal design and accessibility for private homes. Participants in will receive an overview of laws that apply to private homes (including condominiums), and will learn practical tips for making private homes accessible and comfortable to their occupants, without breaking the bank.

Jan Garrett

Jan Garrett

About the Presenter: Jan Garrett
returns as a presenter to the AIA East Bay.  She’s smart, funny, an expert on accessibility, and an attorney!  And she appreciates the value of universal design on a personal level.  A wine and cheese networking reception follows.


Friday, August 24, 2012
8:00am – 3:30pm
AIA East Bay
1405 Clay Street, Oakland

Registration and coffee from 8-8:30am. Program begins at 8:30.

Cost: $95 AIA Members; $135 Non-members

Click here to register.

Presenter: Craig Williams
This 5-hour presentation will complete all California required ADA/Accessibility hours for architects’ 2013 licensure renewal.

This course will cover the application of common ADA requirements for existing Title III “Public Accommodation” facilities.  The instructor will cover the most commonly litigated access issues in California.  The course is designed for Architects, Engineers, building professionals, CASp’s and Code officials who are conducting accessibility site evaluations, preparing designs, performing plan reviews and construction field verification at existing buildings.

The goal of this program is to highlight and feature those areas common to most buildings, facilities and sites.  In addition, the training will also touch on common errors, omissions and assumptions that lead to confusion, redesign, project delays, change orders and cost overruns. We will discuss how to avoid errors and omissions, substandard construction and the exposure to complaints and legal action that can arise from non-compliance and deficiencies in accessibility.

The presenter will emphasize the specific technical provisions of the new 2010 ADA Standards and point out areas where it differs from the old guidelines. We will also be introduced to the anticipated changes in the 2013 California Building Code.

This course will focus on California accessibility and Federal ADA requirements pertaining to existing buildings. The material is presented in three parts, combining an overview of up-to-date regulatory requirements with hands-on activities:

Part I: General Code Framework for Working with Existing Buildings
Understanding and properly applying California code and Federal standards as they relate to existing buildings
Important definitions relevant to existing building accessibility
Triggering elements: Additions, alterations, repairs, change of use and occupancy
Accessibility Compliance Strategies – practical applications

Part II: Common Accessibility Requirements That Arise in Existing Buildings
Overview and application of 2010 CBC and the 2010 ADA technical requirements pertaining to parking, exterior paths of travel, interior paths of travel, stairs, elevators, restrooms, drinking fountains and signage
Tools and effective techniques in properly applying state and federal design standards

Part III: Practicum and Discussion
Identifying and solving common practice problems stemming from deficiencies in access compliance
Reasonability and the imperfect world
Navigating the permit process efficiently – avoiding common pitfalls
Strategies and practical methods to consider in practice
Standard of Care, QA/QC and verification
Changing Landscape – Code cycles – 2010 ADA Standards & 2013 CBC

Click here to register.