Accessibility in Texas

The state of Texas and the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners have made it a priority to ensure equal access to all public goods and services through the use of barrier-free design in compliance with the Texas Accessibility Standards.  

The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) requires every architect, registered interior designer, and landscape architect to complete at least one continuing education program hour related to barrier-free design for each annual registration period.  

Barrier-free design

Barrier-free design means the design, construction, remodeling, and/or alteration of a building or facility that complies with the Texas Accessibility Standards, the American with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines, or similarly accepted standards for accessible design.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, ensuring equal access to all public goods and services.  The ADA regulations include design specifications known as Accessibility Guidelines for Building and Facilities (ADAAG).  These guidelines cover public buildings, government offices, and some privately owned buildings used for public commerce, such as stores, theatres, hotels, and restaurants.

The Texas Accessibility Standards

Each state and local government has the authority to adopt and enforce its own building codes, but must meet or exceed those contained in the ADAAG Standards.  Texas has its own guidelines, based on the ADAAG. The Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) were developed by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR), working closely with the Architectural Barriers Advisory Committee of the State of Texas. The TAS apply to buildings and facilities constructed on or after April 1, 1994.

The TAS are as stringent (in some instances more stringent) as the ADAAG and have been deemed equivalent to the ADAAG by the United States Department of Justice. The TAS require accessibility standards for many different parts of buildings, such as parking, curb cuts, ramps, elevators, drinking fountains, bathrooms, storage areas, light switches, telephones, and ATM machines.  These standards are to be applied during the design and construction, as well as remodeling and alteration, of public and commercial buildings and facilities.

Texas New Construction and Renovation Requirements

Texas requires all public and commercial projects to comply with the Texas Accessibility Standards, better known as TAS. In addition, Texas requires that architects, registered interior designers, landscape architects, and engineers submit their construction documents to a Registered Accessibility Specialist for review and inspection when the project cost is over $50,000.