U.S. Courts Design Guide
First, some users of a courthouse have different facilities requirements at various times
of the day, resulting in duplicate spaces. For example, in a typical day, a single juror
might occupy the jury assembly room, jurors' lounge, courtroom jury box, trial jury
room, and other spaces. Similarly, a judge might use a private chambers office, judges'
conference room, judges' dining room, and courtroom.
Second, a simple count of the number of seats in a courtroom does not accurately
yield the size of the spectator population. Because spectator seating is used in the jury
selection process, the average size of a jury panel largely determines the number of
seats provided in the spectator area (usually 65 to 85). A typical USDC trial usually
attracts less than a dozen spectators.
For the above reasons, population estimates for court facilities must take into account
different types of space, users of the space, and overlapping space use.
The federal courts are required to conform to the barrier-free standards set forth in the
Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) for both new construction and the
renovation of existing facilities. In addition, it is the policy of the Judicial Conference
of the United States that federal court facilities conform with the Americans with
Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines (ADAAG), when those guidelines provide a
greater level of access to persons with disabilities than currently required by UFAS.
All public areas in federal court facilities, as well as restricted and secure areas, must
be accessible when newly constructed or renovated. Under ADAAG, an "accessible"
facility must be usable by a disabled person. Disabled persons not only include those
with mobility limitations but also people with sight, speech, or hearing impairments.
Courtroom work areas (e.g., judge's bench, clerk's station, bailiff station, etc.) for the
judiciary and staff need not be accessible when constructed or renovated, but must be
adaptable for accessibility. "Adaptable" means that maneuvering clearance and other
features must be designed so that accessibility can be provided easily when needed.
In addition to facility design, other features can assist disabled persons in the
courthouse. First, a sign indicating the availability of assistance should be posted in a
prominent place. Second, wireless assisted-listening systems (ALS) using infrared
transmission are to be provided. An appropriate number of ALS receiving units must
be available for use when needed in the courthouse. The Space & Facilities Division of
the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) has an Audio Systems Guide
that provides a formula for determining the number of ALS receiver units needed in