ANSI 117.1 Accessibility Standard Voluntary or Enforceable

by Sean O'Hara on January 24, 2010

The ANSI A117.1 is a document that sets standards for accessibility in new construction and remodels. It was first published in 1961 and has gone through several rounds of updates but it is still a voluntary standard. What makes it enforceable is that it is referenced in building codes, including the International Building Code. It has also been adopted as code by many State and local agencies. In addition, ANSI A117.1 has served as the basis for most of the accessibility standards adopted by Federal and State governments.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean O'Hara December 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Hi Faith, my thought is that you ask for a variance based on a hardship. Otherwise you might look to see if there are any federal or state statutes that would override it. – Sean

Faith goldstein November 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm

This is a question:
We are trying to add an elevator to three story beach house for our 6 year old handicapped granddaughter. There is only outdoor spaace in the sideyars set back and our community association is saying that the covenants will not allow building in this setback. The covenants were written In 1956 and they are changeable by vote . I question the legality of this refusal. The living space is up two flights of stairs which turn and are narrow and there is no other way for her to have access other than this elevator which is 5×5 in a set back of 10×100.
Any suggestions would be welcome.

Grace H Kim August 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Frank –

You should note that the UFAS (Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards) are not synonymous with ANSI 117.1. In fact for a recent project, we found there were a few things that are in direct conflict with UFAS not being as stringent with ANSI.

If this is a PHA project that is receiving HUD funding, it would be best to adhere directly to the letter of UFAS (unless your PHA has provided you with written approval/authorization to do better than UFAS). Ours had experience with HUD inspectors requiring correction post-construction because UFAS hadn’t been met (although the situation met ANSI) so we had to adhere strictly to UFAS even though we felt that the ANSI reg better satisfied the intent of ADA.

Good luck!

Sean O'Hara April 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

Frank, the ANSI/ICC A117.1 is available for purchase online. To the best of my knowledge there is no free version. The one that I have is a hard copy but now you can also download PDF versions.

I found it here for $35.

I would assume as a supplier you are bidding a project that has been designed by an architect to meet the requirements? If the owner has not provided a design it will be much more difficult. The type B unit standards for kitchen are primarily about clearances. When I design them, I primarily design them for a parallel approach so you do not have any requirement for clearances below.

I’m happy to answer any specific questions that you may have about the standard. If the owner has not had an architect design these to meet the accessibility codes you might suggest that they contact us and we can work with them on designs that will meet the requirements so that all you have to do is bid what is in the drawings.

thanks, Sean

valerie kihn April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

We are working on a bid and we need the kitchen standards for public housing of ANSI 117.1
Both ground floor 2-bedroom units in Building C are per UFAS Adaptability standards. All other ground floor units in the project are per Type B Adaptability standards of ANSI 117.1.

We would appreciate it if you would send us any information that would help us meet these standards. This project will be in Colorado.

Thank -you,
Frank Kihn

Leave a Comment