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e-mail: melvin-shaw@uiowa.edu

Release: Nov. 12, 2001

Iowa Accessibility Code Summit Task Force makes sweeping code recommendations

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Accessibility Code Task Force, an ad hoc group that includes the University of Iowa Law, Health Policy & Disability Center (LHPDC) and 21 other Iowa organizations, agencies and companies are poised to recommend that the state substantially replace the existing state accessibility code requirements.

At a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 in the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines, the task force will recommend that the State Building Code Advisory Council adopt the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) in order to standardize state rules and regulations governing accessibility in public places. The council is the approving authority for all building code and accessibility rules and regulations.

Patrick Steele, director of the Great Plains Disability Technical Assistance Center that partners with the LHPDC on various projects, says "public comments may be necessary to demonstrate that the recommendations have broad-based support as the recommendations will help make buildings in Iowa more accessible and safer."

The task force project is one in a series of projects undertaken by the LHPDC, which collaborates with law, health care and rehabilitation professionals, and policy-makers to devise new and enhance existing programs and policies that increase the quality of life and the employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

According to a task force summary document, council adoption of ADAAG would place accessibility first; provide standards contained in a single standards document, and "eliminate conflicts and confusion between federal and state codes, making it easier for architects, builders, contractors, owners, and code and enforcement officials" to interpret accessibility standards.

The task force also says the new guidelines will "help avoid costly project delays and retrofitting and is the state's first step toward obtaining U.S. Department of Justice certification that Iowa's accessibility code meets or exceeds requirements under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act," according to task force member Len Sandler, who is a University of Iowa clinical law professor and LHPDC co-director. The task force specifically recommends that the state:

  • Replace Chapters 16 and 18 of the Iowa Administrative Code with ADAAG guidelines, following the example of Nebraska and Minnesota
  • Seek certification of its new accessibility code by the Department of Justice to ensure Iowa's code is properly recognized and to achieve its full, intended, and positive outcomes
  • Provide accessibility code training and education for architects, building inspectors, plan reviewers, designers, and others involved in planning, designing, altering, and managing building sites to ensure uniform compliance and understanding
  • Improve and expand its existing code review procedures to ensure building projects are reviewed and approved prior to construction
  • Provide a centralized source for information, interpretation, and technical assistance

The task force consists of 29 participants from across the state who represent various organizations including agencies representing persons with disabilities, state agencies, universities, architects, plan reviewers and others. The group's primary purpose is to recommend the most effective means of achieving optimum accessibility for all persons in the state of Iowa.

For more information about the task force or to make comments, contact Pat Steele, Great Plains Disability Business Technical Assistance Center, 515-993-3423 or patrick-steele@uiowa.edu