Do you or your children play a team sport? Do you donate your time and money to a school team in your neighborhood?
If so, you have probably been asked to help fix and clean up the baseball field and dugout or football field and bleachers.It really doesn’t matter what it is … sports of all kinds are BIG throughout this country. It makes no difference if you’re attending an indoor basketball game or an outdoor track and field event. ADA access requirements for team players as well as spectators has changed in a big way!
During the last 6 months of 2013, I focused very closely on the new 2013 California Building Code roll out and what that was going to mean for all of us. While it’s easy to focus only on the accessibility codes being enforced in our own state and forget about the Federal ADA standards, it important to look at the original source.
The 2010 ADA Standards went into effect in 2012 and was the basis for the new 2013 California Building Code.
The 2010 Federal standards include numerous changes applicable to common facility elements, such as entrances, accessible routes, drinking fountains, locker rooms, and restrooms, and these changes apply with equal force to athletic facilities.
The 2010 Federal standards also include several provisions that specifically impact features particular to athletic facilities and student recreation facilities — such as accessible seating for both spectators and players, exercise machines and equipment, fishing piers and platforms, golf facilities, miniature golf facilities, saunas and steam rooms, swimming pools and spas, shooting facilities with firing positions, accessible team or player seating, and certain accessible route requirements in court sport facilities and to bowling lanes.
The changes pertinent to these particular features are summarized below.
1. Assembly Areas: Wheelchair Spaces
The revised Title II and Title III regulations and the 2010 Standards make several changes and clarifications to the requirements for wheelchair spaces in assembly areas, such as stadiums, arenas, and grandstands. The key changes include the following:
The minimum number of wheelchair spaces required in assembly areas that have a seating capacity in excess of 500 has been significantly reduced. The 1991 Standards essentially require wheelchair spaces equal to 1% + 1 of total seating. Under the 2010 Standards, for seating capacities that do not exceed 5,000, the number required is 6 plus 0.75% of the seats in excess of 500. For seating capacities exceeding 5,000, the number required is 36, plus 0.5% of the number of seats in excess of 5,000.
The 2010 standards distinguish between luxury boxes, club boxes, and suites on the one hand, and other types of boxes. Consistent with the DOJ’s long-standing interpretation of the 1991 standards, the 2010 standards now expressly state that the minimum number of wheelchair spaces required for luxury boxes, club boxes, and suites must be calculated individually for each box or suite. For other types of boxes (e.g., tiered boxes provided for acoustical purposes in performing arts facilities), the minimum number of wheelchair spaces required is based on the total number of seats provided in all such boxes, and at least 20% of the boxes must contain wheelchair spaces.
Wheelchair spaces and companion seating must be provided on all levels of a facility that are located on an accessible route and also include other seating. Wheelchair spaces and companion seating also generally must be dispersed around the field of play or performance area, unless other seating is not so dispersed (for example, seating is provided on only one side of the court or field), or the seating capacity is less than 300.
Wheelchair spaces and companion seating may not be located on (or obstructed by) temporary platforms or other movable structures, unless located in seating sections where the entire seating section is placed on temporary platforms or movable structures (e.g., retractable seating sections).
When not needed to accommodate individuals with disabilities; individual removable seats may be placed in unused wheelchair spaces.
The requirement that each wheelchair space have at least one adjacent companion seat has not changed.
At least one wheelchair space must be provided in team or player seating area. These Federal standards have been adopted and modified for the 2013 California Building Code.
Provided below are specific code sections from the 2010 federal ADA standards and their adoption into the 2013 California Building Code.
2. Team or player seating
Description: Sports activities, which provide fixed seating areas for players shall provide at least one accessible wheelchair space to serve the areas of sports activity.
Change from previous standard: The previous general requirement for accessibility is now a specific code reference in the 2010 ADA to require accessible wheelchair seating in player seating areas.
Effective date: March 15, 2012
Original source: 2010 ADA Sections 126.96.36.199 and 206.7.9
Relevant 2013 CBC code citations: Sections 11B-188.8.131.52, 11B-206.7.9 and 11B-802.1
Notes: An example of this would be a defined accessible wheelchair spaces adjacent to the player’s benches in a gymnasium. In outdoor settings, this standard would also apply to player seating areas in a baseball dugout. However, the standard would not apply to a soccer field, which generally does not provide a fixed player bench or seating area
3. Cross Slope and Level Landings
Description: Accessible routes with cross slope and level-landing requirements will be permitted to slope a maximum of 1:48 (2.1%)
Change from previous standard: Maximum slope of 1:50 (2.0%) Effective date: January 1, 2014
Original source: Multiple 2010 ADA code citations for cross slope and level landings. Relevant 2013 CBC code citations: Multiple code citations for cross slope and level landings.
Notes: This change is made to maintain consistency with the International Building Code/ANSI standards. A Smart Level is accurate to within 0.1%. Previously, a slope measurement would require a 2.2% to be definitively considered as noncompliant (outside the range for margin of error), but this would now be a 2.3% measurement.
4. Accessible Route: Areas of Sport Activity
Description: An accessible route must be provided to connect to the boundary of each area of sports activity.
Change from previous standard: The previous general requirement for accessibility is now a specific code citation to require accessible routes to sports areas.
Effective date: March 15, 2012
Original source: 2010 ADA Advisory 206.2.2 Relevant 2013 CBC code citations: Section 11B-206.2.18 and 11B-206.2.12
Notes: As referenced in the 2010 ADA Advisory statement, this includes soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, running tracks, tennis courts or other areas of school sports activity. Where multiple sports fields or courts are provided, an accessible route is required to each field or area of sport activity.
5. Accessible Route: Press Boxes Exceptions
Description: Stadium press boxes will not be required to be on an accessible route under certain circumstances based on the aggregate size of one or more press boxes and the elevation above grade for free-standing press boxes.
Change from previous standard: No exceptions allowed for providing accessibility to stadium press boxes.
Effective date: January 1, 2014
Original source: 2010 ADA 206.2.7 Exceptions #1 and #2 Relevant 2013 CBC code citations: Section 11B-206.2.7 Exceptions #1 and #2
Notes: Important to note that if there are multiple press boxes at a stadium then the 500 square foot total area exception applies to the area of both press boxes combined not individually.