Alignment of CA and Federal Access Regulations

in: AIACC / 4 Comments

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The Division of the State Architect has announced the adoption of updated accessibility standards for the 2013 California Building Code that—for the first time ever—align existing California and federal access regulations for everything ranging from parking spaces and hand rails to housing. The result is a single set of requirements which meet both state and federal accessibility requirements and enhance accessibility for all Californians.

The Division of the State Architect develops and maintains accessibility and historical buildings standards and codes utilized in public and private buildings throughout California. In addition, the group also has oversight responsibility for design and construction of K-12 schools and community colleges.

“Adoption of the 2013 California Building Code provides clarity and consistency for both the general public and code users such as architects, contractors and building officials,” said State Architect Chet Widom.

The new regulations were developed by Division of the State Architect and integrate existing state building code provisions with those from the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. The regulations were recently adopted by the California Building Standards Commission for the 2013 California Building Code.

Forty years ago, California led the nation by enacting laws to establish accessibility standards. Twenty years later, in 1990, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. Since that time, Californians have struggled with compliance of both state and federal access laws and standards since the two have never been completely aligned.

During the development of the 2013 state building code, more than 2,500 items from the 2010 state and federal codes were analyzed to determine which provisions provided greater accessibility. Items studied varied from parking spaces, handrails, drinking fountains, and signs, to transportation facilities, housing, and correctional facilities. Provisions for recreational facilities have also been incorporated in the 2013 state building code, including amusement rides, playgrounds, golf courses and fishing piers.


Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA

Kurt T. Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, is the Director of Regulation and Practice. With experience in the profession and over 15 years as an advocate on behalf of the architectural profession in California, he is passionate about protecting and advancing the profession.

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  1. avatar
    Michael Ellars

    You can read the “Final Express Terms” — the document submitted by DSA to CBSC for approval, and presumably what was actually approved and included in the 2013 CBC– on the DSA web site by clicking on “News & Events” and then scrolling down to the announcement from January 15, 2013. (It is a 336-page PDF and just over 6 MB.) The new CBC Chapter 11B starts on page 131, but there are other provisions throughout the CBC that are affected by this change, and also included in the Final Express Terms document.

  2. avatar
    Ryan Enoch

    Why is it that accessibility for people with hearing loss is never addressed? Architects should be educated on how to incorporate hearing loops into building plans just as easily as wheel chair ramps.

  3. avatar
    Todd Jespersen

    Does this mean that California is finally doing away with truncated domes for everything except transit boarding platforms?

  4. avatar
    Anne Zimmerman

    Has DOJ “certified” the 2013 CBC as in conformance with ADA and ADAAG?

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