Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)
This document presents uniform standards for the design, construction and alteration of buildings so that physically handicapped persons will have ready access to and use of them in accordance with the Architectural Barriers Act, 42 U.S.C. 4151-4157. The document embodies an agreement to minimize the differences between the standards previously used by four agencies (the General Services Administration, the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Defense, and the United States Postal Service) that are authorized to issue standards under the Architectural Barriers Act, and between those standards and the access standards recommended for facilities that are not federally funded or constructed.
The four standard-setting agencies establish and enforce standards for design, construction, and alteration of particular types of buildings and facilities. The General Services Administration (GSA) prescribes standards for all buildings subject to the Architectural Barriers Act that are not covered by standards issued by the other three standard-setting agencies; the Department of Defense (DoD) prescribes standards for DoD installations; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prescribes standards for residential structures covered by the Architectural Barriers Act except those funded or constructed by DoD; and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) prescribes standards for postal facilities. Each of the four agencies issues standards in accordance with its statutory authority.
To ensure compliance with the standards, Congress established the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) in Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. 792.
The ATBCB is composed of members representing eleven Federal agencies (the four standard-setting agencies; the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice, Labor, and Transportation; and the Veterans Administration) and eleven members appointed by the President from the general public. A 1978 amendment to Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act added to the ATBCB’s functions the responsibility to issue minimum guidelines (Guidelines) and requirements for the standards established by the four standard-setting agencies. The final rule that established the Guidelines now in effect was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on August 4, 1982 (47 FR 33862) and is codified at 36 CFR part 1190.
The four standard-setting agencies determined that the uniform standards adopted by them would, as much as possible, not only comply with the Guidelines adopted by the ATBCB but also be consistent with the standards published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for general use. ANSI is a nongovernmental national organization that publishes a wide variety of recommended standards. ANSI’s standards for barrier-free design are developed by a committee made up of 52 organizations representing associations of handicapped people, rehabilitation professionals, design professionals, builders, and manufacturers. The standards, which are called ANSI Al17.1, “Specifications for Making Buildings and Facilities Accessible to, and Usable by, Physically Handicapped People,” are developed using the consensus process.
The original ANSI A117.1, adopted in 1961, formed the technical basis for the first accessibility standards adopted by the federal government and most state governments. The current edition, ANSI A117.1-1980, is based on research funded by HUD. It has generally been accepted by the private sector and has been recommended for use in model state and local building codes by the Council of American Building Officials.
In keeping with the objective of uniformity between federal requirements and those commonly applied by state and local governments, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) follows ANSI A117.1-1980 in format. Both the UFAS scope provisions, which establish the minimum number of elements and spaces required to comply with standards, and the UFAS technical requirements meet or exceed the comparable provisions of the Guidelines.
The UFAS was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on August 7, 1984 (49 FR 31528). Each of the standard-setting agencies has taken action in accordance with its own procedures, including internally prescribed rulemaking and the Administrative Procedure Act where applicable, to incorporate the UFAS in its own standards, regulations, or other directives. GSA adopted the UFAS in 41 CFR 101-19.6, effective August 7, 1984. HUD adopted the UFAS in 24 CFR part 40, effective October 4, 1984. USPS adopted the UFAS in Handbook RE-4, “Standards for Facility Accessibility by the Physically Handicapped,” effective November 15, 1984. DoD adopted the UFAS by revising Chapter 18 of DoD 4270.1-M, “Construction Criteria,” by memorandum dated May 8, 1985.
[Note: Handbook RE-4, was amended effective April 16, 1986, by the addition of Interim Standards, Section 4.1.8, “Accessible Buildings: Leasing of Space in Existing Buildings.” While Handbook RE-4, not UFAS, sets forth the governing standards for Postal facility accessibility. Handbook RE-4 may be further amended.]
This document sets standards for facility accessibility by physically handicapped persons for Federal and federally-funded facilities. These standards are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities to the extent required by the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, as amended.