Problems with the 2010 ADA Standards (and 2012 TAS)

July 18, 2012

There are two things that really bug me about the new Standards.

Firstly, this issue with 50% storage in kitchens. See my earlier post. This rule was not written by someone familiar with designing kitchens. Just take a look at the recent Access-Board webinar on kitchens where in one slide they show upper cabinets dimensioned 48″ to the bottom shelf, but somehow still fit a microwave under that upper cabinet. The elevation is unrealistic and so is the rule.

Secondly, under the old Standards we had an exception for maneuvering clearance at doors that were automatic or power-assisted (1991 ADA Standards 4.13.6). The new Standards allow the maneuvering clearance exception only at doors that are automatic. Here in Texas, and probably elsewhere, the interpretation is that an automatic door does not require any interaction so push-button operators are out. The problem with this is that often push-button operators were installed at existing restroom doors where tight spaces didn’t allow the provision of complying maneuvering clearance. Now, I guess that door will need to be automatic and will just swing open anytime someone passes by. I don’t think that is very practical.

Away from any State or local authority you can always argue compliance to the “maximum extent feasible” and stick with the push-button, but in Texas the words “maximum extent feasible” equate to “rejected variance application”.

When are Automatic Door Openers Required?

June 30, 2009

There is a complaint that the new City Hall in Dickinson, Texas does not have an automatic opener, causing difficulty for some (at least one) user.  Here is the original article:

Handicapped resident complains about new city hall

Fire Marshall Hicks is correct that automatic door openers are not required.  Although, door openers are a real convenience, they are not required by the Texas Accessibility Standards or the ADAAG.
However, automatic openers are often installed on doors to address other accessibility issues.
Doors are required to have level areas on either side of the door to permit a wheelchair, scooter or stroller user to maneuver close enough to the door to turn the lever and pass through.  These maneuvering clearances vary depending on the approach to the door and the type of hardware provided.
Front approach maneuvering clearance at accessible doors.

Front approach maneuvering clearance at accessible doors.

Although the maneuvering clearance is required to be level (1/4″ per foot maximum slope), construction errors or existing conditions will sometimes result in slopes that exceed the allowable slope.  Rather than jack-hammering out all of the concrete, the owner can install an automatic opener.  The minimum maneuvering clearances are not required at doors that are equipped with openers.
If you install a door opener, the push-button (if provided) is required to be on an acessible route and have a level clear floor space (30″ by48″).  And please don’t place the push-button within the swing of the door.