State- and Territory-Based Accessibility Requirements
SUMMARY: This article discusses the relationship between federal ADA standards and state or local accessibility standards, in the context of the built environment, that is, things like buildings, sidewalks, and parks. It also helps you locate accessibility-related building codes based on the states and territories covered by the Northeast ADA Center. These are New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
When you’re constructing or altering a building or facility, you need to follow various building codes. Which codes apply depends on the specific situation. The project may need to meet standards based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and you’ll also want to consider state and local requirements. Several states have their own accessibility codes, while others have implemented requirements based on the ADA or have adopted access provisions contained in model building codes.
ADA standards apply nationally in addition to any applicable state or local requirements. An occupancy permit issued by a local jurisdiction (or a building inspection) does not ensure ADA compliance. Although local building departments sometimes can waive building code requirements, a local waiver does not affect the obligation to comply with the ADA.
Here’s more information about state- and territory-based requirements in the area served by the Northeast ADA Center.
You can find Accessibility codes and regulations on the NJ Department of Community Affairs website, in the Codes and Regulations section.
Most accessibility requirements enforceable in New Jersey are in Chapter 11 of the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and the NJ Barrier Free Subcode.
New York City
The NYC Department of Buildings oversees enforcement of the NYC Construction Code. For more about the NYC Construction Code, read the Building Code section of the overall code. Chapter 11, Accessibility, covers accessibility requirements.
New York State
Prior to May 12, 2020, the Uniform Code continued to include the 2015 International Building Code (IBC), as amended by the 2017 Uniform Code Supplement. On and after May 12, 2020, the Uniform Code should include the 2020 NYS Code Books. Note that Chapter 11 of the International Building Code contains most (but not all) scoping for accessibility requirements required by the building code. The Uniform Code in effect May 12, 2020 can be accessed in the 2020 Building Code of New York State.
Additional information about the Building Code of New York State is available from the New York State Division of Code Enforcement and Administration website.
Puerto Rico has adopted the 2018 edition of the International Building Code. Note that Chapter 11 of the International Building Code contains most (but not all) scoping for accessibility requirements required by the building code. Additional information about the building code in Puerto Rico can be found on the Puerto Rico Permit Management Office website.
US Virgin Islands
The Department of Planning & Natural Resources (DPNR) of the Virgin Islands office of Building Permits oversees enforcement of the Virgin Islands Building Codes. Accessibility requirements are found primarily in Title 29 of the Virgin Islands Code and in Chapter 11 of the 2018 edition of the International Building Code as adopted by the Virgin Islands. Contact DPNR to learn more.
To find out whether a design for a building takes into account all applicable regulations for accessibility, you’ll need to consult more than just ADA-based regulations. You’ll also need to consider state and local rules. This applies to designing anything in the built environment, like a public park, as well. And, of course, it’s also true of things that are already built.