Do you run an ADA-compliant business? There’s more to compliance than building a ramp.
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 gives people who have disabilities the same rights to public spaces as everyone else. Commercial buildings constructed after January 1992 must follow the ADA’s guidelines.
Even if your building is exempt from this law, ADA compliance makes good business sense. Simply put, easier access to your business can increase your customer base.
In many cases, upgrading your doors for ADA compliance will not require a major renovation project.
What Are ADA Requirements for Doors?
An ADA-compliant commercial door should create at least 32 inches of space when opened all the way. Most commercial businesses use 36-inch exterior doors which leaves plenty of room for a 32 inches of doorway clearance. Most 34-inch doors also have enough clearance, though it is possible for handles and hinges to narrow the opening to 32 inches or less.
Width isn’t the only variable. The ADA also requires a clearance of 36 inches on both sides of doorways to allow for wheelchair maneuverability. For a door located at the end of a hallway, the clearance increases to 54 inches.
ADA-compliant door thresholds can’t exceed half an inch high except on automatic sliding exterior doors. Their thresholds can be 3/4 inches tall if necessary.
What Makes a Door Handle ADA Compliant?
Wider doorways help more people access your business, and ADA-compliant door handles help even more. To follow the law, door handles cannot require squeezing or twisting to open. This rules out most knobs and push-button latches.
For most businesses, it’s easy to change door hardware to meet ADA guidelines. In short, door handles must be easy to use with one hand. Handles can’t be mounted more than 48 inches above the door.
Are Automatic Doors ADA Compliant?
Not all automatic doors comply with the law . To be an ADA-compliant business, your automatic doors must open and close in three seconds or less, and they must stop closing when they encounter no more than 15 pounds of force.
Double doors must offer at least 48 inches of clearance, and doors should also have smooth surfaces in case they come in contact with a customer or the customer’s wheelchair, walker, or cane.
Since RCI Doors™ is certified by the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM), our staff will calibrate your doors to follow ADA guidelines.
What About Ramps?
The ADA sets specific guidelines for ramps. Ramps should be at least 36 inches wide, and ramps that rise more than 6 inches should include handrails.
A ramp should not rise more than 1 inch for every foot of distance. So, if your door is 2 feet (24 inches) above ground level, you’d need a ramp that’s 24 feet long. That’s pretty long. It’s OK for ramps to include multiple turns. Ramps can even make 180-degree turns to save space.
At each turn, the ADA requires a level landing that’s at least 5 feet long. The law also requires a 5-foot level landing at the top of the ramp, at door level.
What Is the Most Common ADA Violation?
The ADA is a comprehensive law. It affects a building’s plumbing and electrical systems, its parking lot, and its doors. But inaccessible/non-ADA doors are among the law’s most cited violations — possibly because every customer uses your commercial doors.
Another often-cited ADA violation is signage. It’s easy to overlook this step. Just remember that people who visit your business for the first time don’t know its layout the way you do. As a result, new customers who have disabilities may not know you’ve built an ADA-compliant business if your signage doesn’t point it out.
Here’s the good news: Compared to your building’s internal systems, creating ADA door openings, and installing proper signage, can be simple.
Who Enforces the ADA?
While the ADA is federal law, the federal government won’t send inspectors to check out your business’s compliance. Instead, federal regulators respond to lawsuits from customers or advocacy groups.
If someone with a disability sued your business for lack of ADA compliance, the U.S. Department of Justice could get involved.
When you have fewer than 15 employees, or when your building predates January of 1992, you likely wouldn’t be held liable for ADA violations. Still, there are advantages to running an ADA-compliant business that go beyond the letter of the law.
Advantages of ADA Doors and Access to Your Business
Following ADA rules, whether you have to or not, tells your customers that you:
- Care about all your customers: Excluding people who can’t access your business can give the impression your business doesn’t value all its customers. This perception can spread to the family and friends of people who have disabilities.
- Want to grow your business: A business that welcomes all customers is a business that wants to develop relationships with as many customers as possible.
- Feature modern, up-to-date facilities: Roomy, easy-to-navigate ADA-compliant buildings are associated with newer and well-maintained buildings. “Modern” and “up-to-date” are welcome associations for most business owners.
- Want to make life easier for everyone: Customers who have recently undergone surgery or suffered from an injury — or people who are simply getting older — benefit from ADA guidelines even though they’re not necessarily disabled.Also, if you own a small business, you could be eligible for tax benefits that help pay the costs of improvements
Commercial Door Compliance is a Great Place to Start
In most cases, your customers will encounter your doors before they encounter you, your products, or your employees. When they can’t use your doors, they can’t take advantage of everything your business has to offer.
But not every business owner has the time or expertise to widen a doorway or even to change a door’s hardware. We can help. RCI Doors™’ certified technicians understand ADA compliance, especially as it relates to commercial doors.
Contact us today. We can take a look at your doors and develop a plan to bring them into ADA compliance.
Explore our Garage Door Repair in High Point services for more details