Understanding IBC 2021: Essential Changes and Updates

Elevator accessibility

Elevator safety codes ensure that all occupants can safely access your building’s elevators and reach emergency personnel if something goes wrong. Code requirements update relatively frequently, so you must keep an eye on the latest changes to keep your building compliant. Below, we discuss essential changes in the International Building Code (IBC) 2021, so you know how to update your building accordingly.

Why the ASME Elevator Code and IBC Continue Evolving

Elevator codes have required buildings to provide elevator phones since 1976, though communication regulations get stricter every few years. The ASME and IBC continue refining regulations to make elevators safer and more accessible for all individuals.

For example, say someone with a speech impairment gets stuck in an elevator. If they press the help button, the operator will ask them what’s wrong, but they won’t be able to respond. In this scenario, the emergency responder would not know what’s going on in the elevator and may even assume the call was an accident.

Without multiple communication channels, like text and video, elevators are not safe for all occupants. IBC 2021 makes elevators more accessible for all individuals.

Essential Changes to IBC in 2021

In 2021, IBC updated its regulations to match much of what the ASME previously adopted. Here are the essential changes and updates that came with IBC 2021:

  • Elevators must provide two-way communication with both visual text and audible communication features.
  • Each mode should enable communication between elevator passengers and the operator.
  • Passengers should be able to choose between audible and text-based communication based on their preferences and abilities.
  • The emergency communication system should be operational whenever the elevator is in use.
  • Authorized emergency personnel must be able to view the elevator’s cabin via video monitoring technology.

An Example of the New Elevator Code in Practice

To understand how the new elevator code enhances building safety, let’s view how it will work in a practical example:

  1. An emergency occurs inside one of your elevators.
  2. A passenger presses the emergency call button for help.
  3. The operator responds with a verbal message.
  4. The operator views inside the cab using video monitoring to confirm that a passenger is inside. They can also use this feature to see what is going on.
  5. If the passenger does not communicate back verbally, the operator can post a visual message on the screen.
  6. The passenger can respond to their message using the elevator buttons for yes and no responses.
  7. The passenger and operator can continue communicating with verbal or text responses to resolve the emergency. The operator can view the situation in real time using video monitoring to mitigate hazards.


If your elevator doesn’t meet the new IBC 2021 requirements, ELEVATE MONITORING can help. We offer code-compliant elevator communication solutions with the latest features like two-way communication, text responses, video monitoring, 24/7 answering services, and more. Call ELEVATE MONITORING today at 877-990-9191 to learn more about our code-compliant elevator response system.

Sign me up!