HD15 - Regulatory Provisions Affecting Accessible Routes into Certain Buildings and the Promotion of Universal Design Elements in Dwelling Units - Final Report

Executive Summary:
During 2012, the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (formerly the Department of Rehabilitative Services) followed up on the work accomplished during the previous year. The previously established advisory work group reconvened in March 2012, to assist in preparing final recommendations in accordance with the provisions of HJR 648 (2011).

Building on its earlier efforts, the Work Group developed a set of consensus recommendations encompassing changes to state building regulations and for policies incentivizing greater use of visitability and universal design features in residential properties. The recommendations included several Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) changes proposed for consideration by the Board of Housing and Community Development during the current code change cycle. They included:

• Standards for interior door opening widths in certain residential settings

• Provisions clarifying carpet installation standards to address the effect of padding on rolling resistance

• Provisions accommodating the voluntary use of universal design features for increased accessibility

• Guidance for the prioritization of accessible elements to be included during building alteration projects

• Provisions making the building code consistent with certain Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements related to parking lots

• Changes in the minimum number of accessible parking spaces to be required for certain occupancy types

• Parking requirements for certain new medical, dental and restaurant facilities

The Work Group reviewed various incentives and market-driven initiatives encouraging the increased use of visitability and universal design elements in new one- and two-family construction. Members noted the importance of expanding stakeholder awareness of existing incentives through more frequent and formal outreach efforts. The members noted that several programs were already in use to increase the accessibility of one- and two-family for persons with mobility limitations. Comparable state incentives were not present in non-residential settings. The Work Group therefore recommended consideration of a tax credit intended to encourage the removal of barriers for access to and the usability of places of public accommodation by persons with disabilities.