Safety and Travelers with Disabilities

About a year ago safety of people with disabilities in public places captured a good deal of attention in the US. At the same time there have been ongoing efforts to harmonize international and US building codes. A court case in Maryland addressed both issues stating that I-codes and ADA are compatible.


I-Codes comply with court ruling on emergency evacuation for persons with disabilities

I-Codes, published by the International Code Council, are consistent with a Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Maryland, ruling that says the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires places of public accommodation to consider the needs of people with disabilities in developing emergency evacuation plans.

The ruling is the result of an incident that left a woman stranded in a wheelchair when a Silver Springs, Maryland, mall store was evacuated. Store policy required that the woman be evacuated into the mall. She was not provided any direction or assistance for evacuation from the basement level of the mall.

For decades the I-Codes—first as legacy codes developed by BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI—and now through requirements in the International Fire Code have required fire safety evacuation plans for all occupants in facilities that are assembly, educational, high-hazard, institutional, assisted living, high-rise buildings, underground buildings, hotels and large mercantile, according to International Code Council Senior Vice President of Technical Services Tom Frost.

Building owners and code officials that maintain and review evacuation plans are reminded to make sure that special needs and concerns of people with disabilities are taken into consideration as part of the plan. A proactive approach to training and planning for these concerns will greatly assist all persons concerned with a quick, safe and effective evacuation of a building in any emergency situation, Frost said.

One primary goal of the International Code Council is that accessibility requirements in the I-Codes meet or exceed federal accessibility requirements, including the ADA and the Fair Housing Amendments Act. ICC is referenced for accessible means of egress requirements in the new ADA/ABA Guidelines (Sections 207/F207). ICC also is the secretariat for development of the accessibility technical standard ICC/ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.

The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.

Thanks to Terry Welker at The Code Connection for this new item.

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