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The ways our businesses and facilities function in relation to employees and customers are bound to adjust due to COVID-19. A look back at design standard shifts
T he ways our businesses and facilities function in relation to employees and customers are bound to adjust due to the current pandemic. Spacing, ventilation, and physical barriers are only a few areas that are in need of standardized guidelines to mitigate risks. However, developing and adopting new design standards and codes is a process that normally takes years, sometimes decades. A good example is the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The first nationally recognized accessible design standard – ANSI A117.1 – was released in 1961. But the ADA didn’t become law until July 1990. And a full year after that, the U.S. Department of Justice issued official design guidelines – the ADA Accessibility Guidelines – in July 1991. Businesses and the public were then given more than another year to comply with ADAAG standards before enforcement began. In total, 32 years passed from the first ANSI standard until the ADAAG was applied in 1993. Since then, the ADAAG has continued to evolve. It was revised four times between 1994 and 2010 and even the last version had a delayed enforcement period to early 2012.
The short story is official design guidelines are slow to be developed and made into law. And it stands to reason that this process will also apply to new design standards for the mitigation and prevention of infectious diseases, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COPING WITH A GAP IN GUIDELINES. It took less than three months from the first report to the World Health Organization for COVID-19 to bring the world to a halt. With shelter-in-place orders throughout state and local governments in the U.S., cities and businesses were forced to shut their doors and favor social distancing for months. As a gradual, nationwide reopening began in May, though,
See WILLIAM QUATMAN, page 4
THE ZWEIG LETTER SEPTEMBER 21, 2020, ISSUE 1360
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