Career & Technical Education

Architectural Accessibility Standards for Buildings

Design requirements (standards) for the construction and alteration of places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities, including schools, have changed over the years. Determining which standard applies depends upon the date construction of a facility was started. The standard used to assess each school building, or each section of a school building if there were renovations and/or alterations, is:

  • If construction started prior to June 4, 1977:  “Existing” standard
  • If construction started on or after June 4, 1977 to January 17, 1991: ANSI (American National Standards Institute), 1971 edition
  • If construction started on or after January 18, 1991 to January 27, 1992: UFAS (Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards)
  • If construction started on or after January 28, 1992:  ADA Standards (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)

Many of the standards are the same regardless of the year construction started, but there are some differences. For instance, an accessible toilet should have a toilet seat 20 inches from the floor to the top of the toilet seat if the building construction began in 1978 (ANSI standard).  However, if the building was renovated in 1998 (ADA Standards apply), and new accessible toilets were added, the toilet seats need to be 17 inches – to – 19 inches from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. There are many other differences, but in general, the three standards are quite similar.

Parking lots:  Each parking lot is considered a facility. The date construction started, or the date each parking lot was repaved and/or repainted, is the date to use. Repaving and/or repainting a parking lot is considered a renovation, and each repaving and/or repainting places a parking lot into that year’s accessibility standard.

A major renovation or alteration would be those that affect students, and are in areas where students will have classes, activities, or utilize, e.g., parking lots, classrooms, administrator’s classrooms, restrooms, libraries, etc. Renovations/remodeling projects that do not need to be mentioned are those such as HVAC.

Please have dates construction started for each building, major renovation/alteration and parking lot available for the civil rights compliance review.

Please see the chart ( MS Word, 183KB) with specific dates for each standard.


Last Updated: July 27, 2016