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ADA Accessibility: Optimizing Your Doorways for Compliance

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Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act can prevent you from incurring fines and penalties…but it can also make your business more inclusive to customers with special needs and disabilities. Accommodating employees and customers with disabilities will go far in fostering a great reputation with your local community.

The ADA accessibility requirements for doors are quite long and complex. You can view all of their guidelines on their official website. We won't be discussing every rule in the ADA here, but we will be going over some of the ways that you can optimize your commercial doors for compliance. If you find that you need to make a change to your existing doors or purchase a new door, we can help.

What is the ADA?

The Americans With Disabilities Act is a law that was passed in 1990. In essence, it prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

The law is designed to make sure that people who have disabilities have the same protections, rights, and ease of access as everyone else.

The ADA affects workplaces and commercial entities in very specific ways. It establishes standards to ensure that your building is accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. Today, we’ll focus on ADA rules surrounding doorways and entrances.

Width and Height Requirements

According to the ADA standards, a door opening must be 32 inches wide at a minimum for commercial businesses. The width is the measurement of the fully clear space between the sides of the doorframe when the door is open. The widths should be measured as the entire clear space, and the measurement doesn't include the space taken up by the open door. As for height, the door must be at least 80 inches tall.

This standard applies to every door in your office and warehouse. If any of your doors fail to meet these requirements, you'll likely need to replace the door with a taller or wider option to comply with the ADA standards. Keep in mind that you may need to undergo a somewhat in-depth construction project to correct the issue if you have a doorway that's substantially under the requirements or if your place of business is in a much older building.

Requirements for Door Hardware

There are a number of rules regarding the door handles to ensure that people with a range of disabilities will be able to use your doors. These include:

  • Latches, handles, and any other operating device on all doors must have a shape that can be easily grabbed with one hand.
  • Door handles must not require a tight grip or require any twisting of the wrist.
  • Common accessible designs that are acceptable include leversets, push bars, and U-shaped handles.
  • The operating devices must be exposed and usable from both sides when the door is open.
  • You must ensure that the operating devices are mounted no higher than 48 inches above the floor.

All of these rules are in place to accommodate people with a range of disabilities that would make using two hands or too strong of a grip difficult.

Thresholds in Doorways

Many businesses have thresholds, especially at the front and back doors. If your business has a threshold, there are several guidelines that must be followed:

  • Thresholds must not exceed 3/4" in height for sliding doors or ½" in height for any other type of doors.
  • The levels between entrances must not change by more than ¼".
  • Any changes in height between ¼" and ½" must have a beveled slope.
  • Any changes that are greater than these dimensions must be equipped with a ramp that has plenty of space for usage.

Check your local building codes if you’re not sure what additional requirements might be in place for thresholds and openings in your area.

Consider Your Opening and Closing Mechanisms

Doors that are equipped with any type of automatic closing device must close slowly. It must take at least three seconds for the door to close. If your door is closing too quickly, the closing mechanism must be altered or replaced to be in compliance.

Commercial Doors for Compliance

If you need to replace any of your doors to be compliant, CDF Distributors is here to help. Browse our inventory of doors and pick the one that fits your needs using our custom quote tool.

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