U.S. Access Board releases proposed guidelines for emergency transportable housing

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The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment accessibility guidelines for temporary housing provided by the government in emergencies and natural disasters. The proposed guidelines would supplement the Board's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines, which cover many types of facilities, including dwelling units, by adding provisions that specifically address emergency transportable housing. It would also supplement companion guidelines the Board maintains under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which applies to federally funded facilities.

Emergency transportable housing units, which are designed and manufactured for transport over roadways, have a smaller footprint than other types of housing and pose unique accessibility challenges. Access to such housing was found to be problematic in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The proposed rule would revise certain provisions in the ADA and ABA guidelines to address these types of units, including requirements for ramps, floor surfaces, kitchens, showers, and bedrooms. The proposal would require additional features, such as folding seats in roll-in showers, to improve accessibility. Some changes are responsive to design constraints and would provide exceptions from certain technical criteria for elements such as entry ramps under certain conditions. Accessible communication features, including smoke alarms and weather alert systems, are also addressed.

The proposed changes are based on consensus recommendations prepared by an advisory panel organized by the Board, the Emergency Transportable Housing Advisory Committee. This committee included representatives from disability groups, industry and code groups, and government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The proposed rule includes a discussion of these requirements that highlights areas where additional information is sought. The deadline for comments on the guidelines is August 17. Comments can be submitted or viewed at www.regulations.gov. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. on July 11 that will provide an additional forum for submitting comment and will offer a call-in option for those unable to attend in person. Additional details are posted on the Board's website.

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at mazz@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0020 (v), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY).

    Public Hearing on the Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Transportable Housing
    July 11, 9:30 - 11:30
    Access Board Conference Center
    1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
    Washington, DC

    Call-in option (listening only):
    Dial: (517) 308-9247 or (888) 469-2078 (toll-free)
    Passcode: 4144
    To submit comments by phone, contact Kathy Johnson in advance at johnson@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0041 (voice), or (202) 272-0065 (TTY).



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About the Blogger

Michele Ohmes

thumbnail image Michele S. Ohmes is an Americans with Disabilities Act specialist and wheelchair user who works with public works departments, facility managers, and contractors. Her design manual — ADA and Accessibility: Let's Get Practical — is available on CD-ROM through the American Public Works Association's Web site. Author's note: Michele & Associates does not render legal advice and has no enforcement authority regarding the ADA or other federal disability-rights legislation.