Courthouse Access Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

November 4 and 5, 2004
Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, D.C.

November 4th 9:00 – 4:00

Welcoming Remarks
Emil Frankel, Vice Chair of the Access Board, Lawrence Roffee , Executive Director of the Access Board, and Denis Pratt, Access Board member welcomed committee members, thanked them for their willingness to serve on the committee, and underscored the impor ta nce of accessibility to courthouses.

Introduction of Members
Committee members introduced themselves, described organizations they represent, and noted reasons for their interest in the advisory committee, as did members of the public in attendance.

Briefing on the Federal Advisory Committee Act
Elizabeth Stewart provided an overview of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and its provisions governing the structure and operation of advisory committees chartered by Federal agencies. These include stipulations on: committee tenure (two years with extensions possible), committee meetings (must be open to the public, notice must be provided at least 15 days in advance, minutes or summaries required), option to form subcommittees which can broaden participation beyond committee membership. It was noted that copies of a video on the Act were provided to each member for viewing at their leisure.

Board Briefing on Courthouse Access
Dave Yanchulis and Denis Pratt provided a briefing on the Access Board, including its mission, services, program goals, and work developing guidelines for the built environment, including courthouses. Key issues of courthouse accessibility and determined information needs were highlighted. Pratt outlined results and findings from an accessibility survey he conducted of 43 nonfederal courthouses in the State of Maine in his capacity as an architect for Alpha One. Common problems that were identified in this survey included access to jury boxes, witness stands, spec ta tor seating, assistive listening systems, restrooms, holding cells.

Issues for the Advisory Committee to Address
Committee members offered recommendations on issues the committee should address and explore in fulfilling its mission and shared various observations. These recommendations addressed topics and challenges to accessibility in areas of education and outreach, design and construction, existing facilities, and cost. The Board agreed to follow up with a listing of the recommendations made for future committee discussion and deliberations [attached list].

Follow Up Actions Approved
Action by the Board or committee members agreed to as a follow up to this meeting or for next meeting included:

A reception was held after the meeting.


November 5 ( 9:00 – 12:00 )

Public Comment
Members of the public in attendance made comments that:

Issues for the Advisory Committee to Address
The committee continued its discussion from the previous day on issues to be explored. Issues concerning courtroom lifts and industry standards, education, existing facilities, and costs were raised [included in attached list].

Selection of Chair
The advisory committee selected Sam Overton and Eve Hill as Committee Co-Chairs.

Next Meeting (Dates and Location) and Meeting Schedule
Committee members discussed several dates in January and locations ( Washington , D.C. , San Francisco , Las Vegas , Phoenix ) for the next meeting. No firm consensus was reached. The co-chairs and the Board agreed to survey members on preferred dates and times by circulating a list of several options at a later date.

The committee decided to meet on a quarterly basis (instead of bi-monthly) and to set meeting dates for the rest of the year at the next meeting.

Elizabeth Stewart conducted a review of the committee's protocols. Several limited revisions were approved (replacing the term “chair” with “co-chair,” adding language about the availability of meeting summaries on the Board's website, and the adopted quarterly meeting schedule). The Board will provide a revised version of the protocols at the committee's next meeting.

The committee discussed the organization and delineation of subcommittees and agreed to three that would focus on:

It was further agreed that the education subcommittee will perform an internal function by collecting existing resources, studies, and other materials and will regularly keep the committee apprised of the information collected.

A sign-up sheet was circulated among members for subcommittee membership.

List of Issues for Advisory Committee to Address or Consider

Education and Outreach


Audiences to Target

Organizations to Involve and Programs Consider:


Design and Construction



Specific Spaces and Elements

Outside Courtrooms:


Courtroom Lifts:


Existing Facilities