Meeting the 2018 Illinois Accessibility Code

Topics: illinois accessibility code, illinois construction, chicago construction

Chelsey Bipat
Author : Chelsey Bipat on February 26, 2019

A new version of the Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC) was released on October 23, 2018, by the Capital Development Board. The IAC had not been updated since 1997, making the previous code version over 20 years old. Among the main limitations of the 1997 IAC was its inconsistency with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which are now widely used in the building sector.

The main purpose of the 2018 IAC and the ADA Standards is making built environments accessible for persons with disabilities. Both codes cover aspects such as buildings access points, hallway dimensions, the type of doorknobs and the height of bathroom fixtures. These building elements can limit accessibility if they are not designed properly, and that is precisely what the 2018 IAC prevents.

  • The Illinois Accessibility Code will now be reviewed each time the ADA Standards are updated, within a timeframe of three years.
  • This will prevent future inconsistencies, like those between the 1997 IAC and the 2010 ADA standards. In fact, the 2018 IAC was the product of a four-year review to achieve consistency.

The 2018 Illinois Accessibility Code not only has new requirements, but also an updated format. The new version has a structure similar to ADA and ANSI standards, and differences with the 2010 ADA standards use italic text.

How Does the 2018 IAC Affect Current Projects?

Although the 2018 Illinois Accessibility Code is applicable for all new constructions, a project can be built according to the 1997 edition if it meets the two following requirements:

  • The contract had already been signed when the 2018 IAC came into effect.

  • Construction starts within the 12 months after the 2018 IAC release.

Even if a project was already being planned by October 23, 2018, it must be redesigned if no contract had been signed. Also, if a project with a signed contract does not start construction within the allowable 12 months, it must be redesigned as well.

Of course, developers can review their current designs according to the 2018 IAC, even if they meet the conditions for the 1997 version. Although this is not legally required, it is recommended to provide a better environment for persons with disabilities.

accessibledoor

Which Areas of Building Design Are Affected by the 2018 IAC?

The Illinois Accessibility Code affects many building elements that play a role in access, circulation within a property, and the use of building services. The 2018 IAC provides extensive requirements, and some of the main aspects covered are summarized below. Note that the IAC makes ample use of diagrams and drawings to make the specifications clear.

Building Element

Specifications Covered by the 2018 IAC

Parking

Dimensions, proximity to building access points, signaling, and minimum number of parking spaces based on building occupancy.

Walks and sidewalks

Dimensions, maximum slope, level changes and clearances around doors.

Curb ramps

Locations, dimensions, slope, and indicating the endpoints of ramps with a different floor texture.

Pedestrian ramps

Dimensions, slope, handrails and landings.

Entrances

Requires at least 50% of building entrances to be accessible, and at least one on the ground floor. Limits the use of revolving doors and turnstiles, and mandates at least one accessible entrance per store in malls.

Doors and doorways

Establishes dimensions and clearances, limits the force required to open a door, specifies door operating devices such as handles and locks.

Corridors and aisles

Dimensions and passing spaces.

Passenger elevators

Locations, dimensions, doors, button types, signals, controls and handrails.

Restrooms

Door dimensions and hardware, clearances, sink and mirror height, exposed drain pipes, dispensers, hand dryers/towels, toilet and urinal dimensions, grab bars.

Water fountains

Dimensions, controls and clearances.

Public telephones

Number, dimensions, clearances, controls, audiovisual features, teletypewriters (TTY).

Controls, light switches and alarms

Mounting height and operating features.

Signs and identification

Symbols, locations and signage types (passenger loading, directional, emergency, TTY, etc.)

Warning signs and hazards

Tactile warnings, clearances around signs.

Seating, tables and work surfaces

Clearances, dimensions, auxiliary counters

There are also additional requirements for specific applications: auditorium, assembly, healthcare, libraries, retail, museums, hotels, restaurants, transportation terminals, etc.

Final Recommendations

The 2018 Illinois Accessibility Code is now among the mandatory requirements for projects in Illinois. Therefore, real estate developers should ensure their building designs are compliant to get a quick project approval.

Projects with contracts signed before October 23, 2018, can still follow the requirements of the 1997 IAC. However, upgrading design documents to reflect the 2018 IAC is strongly advised, to remove hurdles for persons with disabilities.

 

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