BCAB #1438 - Access for Persons with Disabilities to a Stage, Sentence, Clause & Sentence

April 17, 1997

BCAB #1438

Re: Access for Persons with Disabilities to a Stage, Sentence, Clause & Sentence

Project Description

The building in question is a stand alone 1,500 seat auditorium for a private non-residential school. The auditorium will be used for school assemblies, graduation ceremonies, band concerts and occasional theatrical productions. There is an accessible exterior entrance to the stage but there is no access for persons with disabilities between the auditorium and the stage.

Reason for Appeal

Section 3.7 applies to the building and requires, in Subclauses to (viii), that various facilities and areas within the building be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the accessible rear entrance to the stage area meets the requirements of the code. For concerts and plays the students involved, including those with disabilities, will access the stage from this entrance which is nearest the other buildings on campus. During graduation ceremonies there are no work functions on the stage so there is no need for anyone to access the stage from the auditorium. On occasions when disabled students are involved, the entire ceremony can take place in front of the stage at the auditorium floor level so there is no need to access the stage from the auditorium.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that it is the intent of Clause that access be provided throughout the main floor area. Since the stage is integral with the principle function of the occupancy, access must be provided to the stage from the main floor level, not from the rear of the building. It has been indicated by school staff that students with disabilities will be presented their diplomas at the lower level of the auditorium, not on the stage with the other students. It is the building official's understanding that this is precisely the situation that the access requirements were intended to guard against. Persons with disabilities should not be segregated from use of the stage by having to use the "back door."

Appeal Board Decision #1438

It is the determination of the Board that access for persons with disabilities is required within the building from the public seating area to the stage. Sentence requires access from the accessible main entrance(s) to all areas of the building required to be accessible. Whether the building is classified as a Group A Division 2 school under Sentence or a Group A Division 1 auditorium or theatre under Sentence, the Board considers the stage to be an area that must be accessible.

George R. Humphrey, Chair