December 2023: Accessible Means of Egress

Posted on - Friday, December 1st, 2023

This newsletter will be discussing the requirements for the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design as well as the 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards. Other Standards and Codes might have different requirements

Accessible Means of Egress

Every once in a while I receive a phone call asking me about accessible exits. They wonder about the location of the exit, whether the door needs to be accessible, about stairs, stoops etc. My answer always confuses them:

In section 207 of The 2010 ADA and 2012 TAS have the following requirements:

  1. Means of Egress shall comply with section 1003.2.13 of the IBC (2000 edition and 2001 supplement) or
  2. Means of egress shall comply with section 1007 of the IBC 2003 edition

That means that The ADA and TAS DO NOT have jurisdiction over the requirements for accessible means of egress. Only the AHJ will have oversight over the number and location of the accessible means of egress.

TAS and ADA do focus on entrances. So if an exit door is also an entrance then it would have to comply (if it is a required accessible entrance). The door, shown in the photo below, does not have door hardware to enter, so this would be a purely a means of egress and would not be required to comply on the exterior. There might be requirements depending on where it is located to be accessible on the interior if it was considered an entrance to the exterior (you would be “entering” the exterior)


The photo shown above is an exit door that has hardware on the exterior. If this door is also an entrance then it will have to comply

Section 207 of the ADA and TAS has two exceptions that might not be the same as the IBC:

  1. The accessible means of egress can share the common path of egress if permitted by local building or life safety codes
  2. Areas of refuge shall not be required in detention and correctional facilities.

There is an advisory, not required but advisable that the ADA and TAS also have regarding the accessible means of egress:

Advisory 105.2.4 ICC/IBC.

International Building Code (IBC)-2000 (including 2001 Supplement to the International Codes) and IBC-2003 are referenced for means of egress, areas of refuge, and railings provided on fishing piers and platforms.

At least one accessible means of egress is required for every accessible space and at least two accessible means of egress are required where more than one means of egress is required.

The technical criteria for accessible means of egress allow the use of exit stairways and evacuation elevators when provided in conjunction with horizontal exits or areas of refuge. While typical elevators are not designed to be used during an emergency evacuation, evacuation elevators are designed with standby power and other features according to the elevator safety standard and can be used for the evacuation of individuals with disabilities.

The IBC also provides requirements for areas of refuge, which are fire-rated spaces on levels above or below the exit discharge levels where people unable to use stairs can go to register a call for assistance and wait for evacuation.

Signage at the accessible means of egress is also required by ADA and TAS. Those rules will not be covered in this newsletter, but can be found in section 216.4