Courthouse Access Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

August 4 and 5, 2005
Chicago, IL


August 4th (9:00 – 5:00)

Updates from the Co-Chair
Committee Co-Chairs Sam Overton and Eve Hill opened the meeting and took roll.
Overton updated the committee on David Calvert’s recovery from a heart attack in May and bypass surgery. He noted that he is making remarkable progress and plans to attend the November committee meeting in San Francisco. Overton also briefed the committee on a tour of a new courthouse near the Los Angeles airport by members of the Access Board in June, who were in the area for a meeting and public hearing. He noted that the tour went very well, and that Access Board members asked good questions and were very interested in the work the committee is doing.

Introduction of New Committee Member
Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, who succeeded Judge Henry C. Morgan on the committee introduced himself to members. Appointed U.S. District Judge in 1997, Judge Bataillon serves as Chief Judge for the District of Nebraska. He also serves as Chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Subcommittee on Space Standards of the Committee on Security and Facilities, which he represents on the committee. He also chairs the Administrative Office of the Courts design guide subcommittee.

Reports from Subcommittee Co-Chairs
Subcommittee co-chairs provided updates on the work completed since the last committee meeting by the Courthouse Subcommittee (Cheryl Killam), the Education and Outreach Subcommittee (Stephanie Vierra), and the Courtroom Subcommittee (Kimberly Paarlberg and Gate Lew). Killam indicated that the subcommittee reviewed progress of team assignments through a teleconference in June. She also called attention to the display of photographs in the room prepared by Marlene Shade; these photographs were submitted in response to a request the subcommittee arranged to be included in the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA’s) newsletter. Many of the images pertain to courtrooms and the subcommittee will work to share this information with the other subcommittees. Vierra outlined efforts underway to collect resources and to identify information gaps and target audiences. New resources of note include: a survey of access complaints received by the Access Board submitted by Denis Pratt, a handbook for Georgia courts, existing and new AIA online courses, a completed report of the survey of Arizona courts to be provided by Jim Reed on CD, an annotated bibliography of resources prepared by Steven Holland and Ted Glessner, a list of potential partnership organizations, including a list of 24 major disability groups, and the new committee website. Lew and Paarlberg noted that the Courtroom Subcommittee has organized three working groups to develop design solutions for different courtroom elements and spaces and noted the progress made to date.

Developing Recommendations on the Design Process
The committee discussed and strongly endorsed the need to address the design process, including decision making in the design phase, in developing best practices recommendations. Several options for assigning this task were considered, including organization of an ad hoc group and assignment of this topic to either the Courthouse or Education subcommittees. A vote was taken, and a majority decided to assign this task to the Education Subcommittee.

Future Committee Meetings (November, February, and May)
The committee approved the following meeting locations and dates:

Katie McGuiness noted that the entity that oversees state properties and the Chief Justice of the trial courts would be interested in hosting the committee in Boston. Members also discussed a recommendation from Linda McCulloh to visit a demonstration courtroom developed by Stetson University Law School that serves as a model of accessibility. A sign-up sheet was circulated for members interested in visiting this courtroom, located in Gulfport, FL, in addition to the committee meeting in Miami.

AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice Conference (San Diego)
Denis Pratt and Dave Yanchulis briefed the committee on the planned outline for the presentation to be made at the AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice Conference in San Diego in November. Members interested in helping develop this presentation include: Judge Frederick Horn, Overton, Robert Schwartz, Luis Pitarque, Marlene Shade, and James L. Beight. Recommendations were made that the presentation address the design process and that consideration be given to highlighting common errors in courthouse accessibility.

International Building Code Provisions for Means of Egress
Paarlberg provided a briefing on the International Building Code (IBC) and provisions it contains on means of egress. These provisions are referenced by the Board’s updated version of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. Paarlberg explained specific provisions and noted efforts underway to study certain aspects of egress, such as use of elevators in emergencies. Brochures on the IBC and accessible means of egress were distributed to members.

Lift Demonstration
Don Birdsall demonstrated a new type of lift available from Vertical Mobility at a nearby site. Members were able to try out the lift, which was fully functional. After this demonstration, the committee recessed for lunch.

Committee Website
Vierra and Yanchulis provided a presentation on the website that has been developed for the committee’s use. With a projection of the site on a screen, they went over the site’s organization and structure, resources posted to date, and site features.

Members met in subcommittee, and the full committee reconvened at 4:00 so that subcommittee chairs could update members on the progress made in their sessions.

August 5th (9:00 – 3:00)

Presentation on Lift Study
Luis Pitarque and Gerry Genrich gave a presentation on the results of a mechanical lift analysis conducted by HDR Architecture, Inc. for the General Services Administration. This study included a survey of 15 lift installations at Federal courthouses across the country. Results of the study that were highlighted include: lack of standardization of platform design, sporadic operation of electromagnetic locking system, difficulties maintaining a fixed elevated position over time, and poor adaptive field conditions for finished details and platform enclosure. Tom Shields, Greg Harmon, and Don Birdsall discussed various efforts lift manufacturers have made to improve lift design and functioning in courtroom installations. Harmon also briefed members on new industry standards being developed specifically for courtroom lifts.

Presentation on Access for Persons with Vision Impairments
Patrick Cannon, Director of the Michigan Commission of the Blind, gave a presentation on what it means to have a vision impairment and the issues typically faced by people with vision impairments, including common misconceptions and stereotypes. Many of the points were made through an informal multiple-choice quiz distributed to the members. Yanchulis provided a briefing on provisions in the Board’s ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines that address access for people with vision impairments, including criteria for protruding objects and signage.

Approval of Minutes
The committee approved without change the minutes for the previous committee meeting held May 5th and 6th in Washington, D.C.

Wrap Up and Adjournment
The committee then adjourned for lunch and subcommittee breakout sessions. The committee reconvened briefly before final adjournment at the end of the day. Subcommittee chairs provided briefings on work completed in the afternoon session. Eve Hill briefed members on a meeting held over lunch between representatives from the committee and members of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Physical Disabilities on possible partnership opportunities.