Opening Doors to People with Disabilities

The 2010 revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doorway accessibility requirements are complex enough to leave any business owner scratching their head. When planning accessible entryways most people immediately think of wheelchair ramps. However, the doorway itself can often pose a barrier to people with disabilities. By maintaining a golden area known as “maneuvering clearance” it is easy to construct a doorway that is compliant and accessible.

What is maneuvering clearance?

Maneuvering clearance describes an area in front of a doorway which must be kept clear of protrusions and obstacles so that people with disabilities will be able to navigate the entryway as easily as possible while using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. This means taking into account turning radius for wheelchairs, the speed at which a door will close, whether or not it will latch, whether there are specialized operating requirements, and other details.

How much clearance is needed?

There are several aspects of doorway design which affect the amount of space which must be left clear as maneuvering clearance for compliance purposes. These include whether or not people will approach the door closer to the door hinge or the door handle, whether they are approaching the doorway from a push or pull direction, and whether or not closers and latches are in use. Some other requirements affect installation height minimums and maximums for door handles, latches, closers, and stops.

Why does it matter?

Paying attention to how you want traffic to flow into, out of, and inside your business helps bring the guiding principles behind the ADA into focus. Keeping these requirements in mind when designing building entrances, exits, and interior doors can improve the experience of customers of all types, including those without disabilities. Accessibility is about allowing greater access to what your business has to offer, so paying attention to ADA requirements can be a great way to maximize your business traffic and improve unsafe or unintuitive doorways.

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