Volume VI  Number 5                        May 2011

Doors are one of the main elements that will make a space accessible or not. The interior space may be accessible, but if the door is too narrow, or a person can't open the door and use the hardware, then the space cannot be really accessible.

Summary of Requirements

In the 2010 ADA Accessible Standards, doorway requirements are found on Section 404 Doors, Doorways and Gates (Page 217 of The ADA Companion Guide). Some scoping requirements are also found in Section 206.5 Doors, Doorways and Gates. In summary, here are the technical requirements for doors:

1) Revolving doors should not be part of the accessible route. That means that you need a swing door alongside it if you want to use a revolving door.




2) Double leaf doors should have one active door at
with 32" minimum clearance (unless a power assisted door with stand-by power is used, then the entire width of both leaves are counted together)


3) Minimum clear widths are 32".  Hardware (such as panic hardware) can decrease the width by 4" if mounted between 34" and 80" high (except closers that can be mounted 78" a.f.f.)


4) Maneuvering clearances follow figure 404.2.4


 push pull


5) Recessed doors are allowed but only 8" max. of recess.  A recess door could be found in music practice rooms which require ticker walls, or deep entry doors (see figure below)


recess drs



6) Ground surface at door maneuvering clearances should slope no greater than 2% in any direction.


7) Thresholds at doorways shall not exceed 1/2" in vertical height.  Note photo below is a brick threshold that is 1 1/2" high.





8) Door hardware hall have a shape that is easy to grasp with one hand and does not require tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate.


9) Door hardware should be mounted no higher than 48" a.f.f. except in secured areas like pool gates where you can mount up to 54" a.f.f.


10) If a door has a door closer, then the sweep period of the closer shall be adjusted so that from an open position of 90 degrees the door will take at least 5 seconds to move to a point 12 degrees from the latch, measured to the leading edge of the door.


11) Interior and sliding or folding doors must have a maximum required opening force of 5 lbs.


12) At the bottom of the door, from 0"-10" above the ground there should have a smooth surface like a kick plate as shown below


vision panels


13)  Vision lights should be mounted 43" a.f.f. max to the bottom


14) Automatic and power-assisted doors  can be used when the required maneuvering clearances are not able to be provided (like 18" on the pull side of the door) as long as they have stand-by power.  See more detailed explanation below.

In This Issue
Sliding and Pocket Door hardware
Automatic Doors
Quick Links

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Sliding and pocket door hardware

Sliding doors are a great way to save space and still have privacy.  In an accessible design, the hardware becomes the most problematic.  Some hardware that will make the width narrower than 32" wide, and sometimes the pocket type sliding doors have the type of hardware that requires the use of the hands by twisting, pulling or pinching the hardware in order to use it.  See this video on how most hardware works.  Most use fingers to push and pull the door open and closed.




Below are some hardware that are not  good for accessibility.  The recessed handle  could work if the gap is wider than a fist.  In other words, person who does not have good use of their fingers (like people with rheumatoid arthritis, or cerebral palsy) would only have the use of a closed fist to operate this door.  So the gap will have to be wide enough to allow them to use it.





The hardware on this door will allow for a person to use their fist inside the loop, but to design the opening, the designer  will have to take into account the door handle.  A 32" wide door will not work since the door handle will make the opening narrower. Thus door opening needs to be wider, which may require the use of a non-standard width door.





The hardware shown on this photo can be lifted with a closed fist and it is narrow enough where the door opening will not narrow as  much once the pocket door is recessed.







Automatic Doors


The ADA provisions for doors are in place to allow independent maneuvering and usability by people with disabilies.  Power assisted doors are very useful if the maneuvering clearances at doors and the door hardware is such that does not allow independent use by disabled people.  Power assisted and automatic doors are not required, but  can be used If there are existing doors that do not have the proper width, proper maneuvering clearances or proper hardware.  This is true because the power assited doors have an automatic type mechanism which will open the door for the person who can't open it on their own. 


The 2010 Standards, only allows an exception for providing maneuvering clearances and 32' minimum width at one active leaf in a double door as shown on Table 404.2.4.1  if the power assisted door has stand-by power.  Then the landing requirements, push and pull side clearances and even widths at double leaf doors will not be required to comply.  The reason is because stand-by power allows the door to remain open in the case of a power outage.  Without stand-by power the power assisted doors will not be able to be operated if the minimum clearances are not also provided.


power assisted








Remeber that March 15, 2011 is when the new Standards became effective in the Federal level.  They will be mandatory on March 15, 2012.


If you want to learn more about the new Standards, The ADA Companion Guide has the 2004 Guidelines with commentary and explanations throughout.

Upcoming CEU opportunities:

May 13 AIA National Convention in New Orleans at 7:00 a.m. The ADA and Urban RegenerationAlso good for California Accessibility CEU

 If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.  

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714