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The Pendulum Swings, Conditions Change

For a long time, the pendulum on accessibility requirements was still because there were no standard requirements for accessibility. With the exception of a few state guidelines and the Illinois "Facilities for the Handicapped Act" adopted in 1965, there were no rules to enforce.

Then the pendulum started to swing-hard and fast. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed. This Act was civil rights legislation for the handicapped and provided a comprehensive set of standards for handicapped accessibility requirements.

Now the pendulum swung to the other side. There were handicapped or accessibility consultants and companies everywhere. Building owners became very concerned about litigation and fines. Some owners of older buildings sold them because they feared excessive requirements. It may seem strange today, but the pendulum had swung too far.

The swing of the accessibility pendulum has finally slowed. A reasonable set of requirements has been written and logically applied. The International Building Code has been given safe harbor for enforcement so the building code official now has clear direction of when, why, and how to enforce the standards.

The most important part is, of course, the people who need these improvements because of a disability have been given greater access to buildings and other facilities.

We should stay focused on the code pendulum in other areas, so it doesn't swing too far and cut us.


Richard A. Piccolo is president of B & F Technical Code Services, Inc. With more than 30 years in the building code and fire industry, Mr. Piccolo is a Master Code Professional, a Certified Building Official, a Certified Fire Official, a Certified Property Maintenance Inspector, a Certified Building Inspector, a Certified Plans Examiner, an Illinois Certified Fire Inspector and a Certified Firefighter III. He has helped write building and fire codes for the state of Illinois as well as a number of municipalities.
B & F Technical Code Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 957648
2401 W. Hassell Road., Suite 1550
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
  Phone: (847) 490-1443
  Toll-Free (800) 232-5523
  Fax: (847) 490-1476