State legislation aimed at improving building accessibility for people with disabilities was approved Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The measure, spearheaded by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
"People with disabilities are consumers, business owners, professionals, renters and students, and they have the right to access the buildings in their communities," Madigan said. "This legislation will make it easier for architects, businesses and property owners to comply with the law and provide equal access to all Illinois residents."
The bill, SB 2956, updates the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA), which "authorizes the Attorney General's Office to enforce accessibility laws which mandate that public buildings and multi-story housing units in Illinois must be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities," according to a news release from Madigan's office.
The measure "streamlines the existing state statute so that architects can refer to one code in order to comply with both federal and state accessibility requirements," according to Madigan's office. Specifically, the bill would make the following changes to the EBA:
- Updating definitions to conform with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and corresponding updates to the Illinois Accessibility Code;
- Replacing an outdated state standard for accessibility with an easier-to-use standard that mirrors the ADA;
- Clarifying which version of the EBA and the Illinois Accessibility Code applies to new construction and alterations; and
- Updating the enforcement provisions to reflect the current emphasis on working with businesses to resolve issues and alleviate future barriers for individuals with disabilities.
State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is the bill's chief Senate sponsor.
"Our methods for helping those with disabilities are constantly evolving, and our related laws should do the same," Holmes said. "I applaud Attorney General Madigan's efforts to simplify, streamline and modernize our code and improve access for persons with disabilities, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation."