Did You Know it’s Required for Commercial Buildings to Have ADA Compliant Locks
If you are able-bodied, you probably take for granted that you can drive your car over to a business, park anywhere, walk over to the entrance, easily pop over a few steps, and open the door to enter the building.
However, many individuals right in your own neighborhood aren’t as fortunate. And as a business owner, you must be sensitive and aware of those needs – in fact, the law requires you to take action to ensure that anyone can access your facility.
Unfortunately, disabilities are too often treated as out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Unless you specifically see someone with a cane, wheelchair, or service dog, you may not be aware that someone is less capable than yourself.
But, people with disabilities are easily the fastest-growing minority in the U.S., controlling $1 trillion in total annual income. They are as deserving as anyone else to enter a business and for that reason, the American with Disabilities Act was passed – to protect the rights of these citizens.
But, depending on when the building permits were submitted, and the physical construction took place, the rules vary slightly in what is actually required by law. For this reason, it is ideal to consult with an ADA compliance specialist to ensure that your space is up to code.
Door Location Accessibility
Whether or not you anticipate someone with a disability entering your facility, you must be prepared for both employees and customers who may need the additional assistance. At least one door needs to be at the following location:
- Each entrance with at least 60% of entrances providing access for those who may be approaching using a wheelchair or have limited impairments
- Each tenant space in a mall or building with multiple businesses
- Each accessible room or space within the building
- At least one restricted or secured entrance
- Along each escape route
While automatic doors can certainly aid someone with a disability, they are not required by the ADA.
Door Accessibility Issues
Getting to the door of your business is just one hurdle. The next is entering. This means the doors need to be wide enough to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, need to open easily for someone with arthritis in the hand or wrist, for example, and the door needs to be able to safely close behind someone.
For these reasons, the ADA requires that there is a minimum 32-inch door clearance, door hardware weighs no more than five pounds of force to operate while also operating without tight grasping, pinching or twisting (lever handles comply, but round doorknobs do not), the threshold can’t be higher than 1/2 -inch, and more.
While this seems straightforward, if you are not in contact with a professional locksmith familiar with ADA compliant locks, it’s easy to misstep, causing issues for your business and those trying to visit. And with the laws continually updating to ensure equal access for all persons, it’s imperative to work closely with experts you can trust who will ensure your space is continuously ADA compliant.
Commonly Asked Questions
If automatic doors are not required, why are they so common?
While the ADA does not require automatic doors by law, they are often used as they provide the best solution. Since the force to open the door cannot exceed five pounds, the options are limited when selecting a door since an entrance should also be protective against inclement weather like wind and forceful enough to impede unwanted occupants.
Are the laws set for “public entrances” only set for entrances used by the public?
No, this is a more generic phrase, but also applies to entrances that are used as employee-only entrances and more. It really encapsulates most entrances except for service and restricted entrances. If you have questions about your specific space, reach out to better understand if you are properly adhering to ADA codes.
Is compliance required on both sides of a door if it’s used only from one side?
If this entrance/exit is truly used from only one side, then only the side used must comply with ADA rules. However, if it is used even occasionally in both directions, then both sides must comply.
Do the rules apply to keys or keycards?
If your entrance requires keys or keycards, then those are not required by law to prevent pinching or twisting to enter. Any non-fixed portion does not apply but should be modified as needed to properly accommodate accessibility.
If new regulations are put into place, am I required to upgrade?
While you may be grandfathered in and not required to make any additional modifications right away, it is important to clarify with the experts. Additionally, the more accommodating your facility, the more customers and qualified employees you will attract. You’re only limiting yourself by not providing updated accessibility to your business.
Are residential ADA compliant locks the same as commercial ADA compliant locks?
No, commercial level handles are designed for added strength and durability to ensure longevity. While grade 2 are perfect for medical offices, hotels, religious buildings, and apartment buildings, grade 1 is best for hospitals, schools, and factories due to their higher use. Each is ADA compliant.
Looking for something different? Select a locksmith that specializes in everything for ADA compliance to access control to electrified locks and panic hardware, and you can ensure your building is secure and up to code.
The ADA was designed to provide equal access to everyone, regardless of mobility or lack thereof. As a business owner, your focus is your company, but as such, it should also be your customers and employees. Ensure that you are giving everyone an equal opportunity and have your space assessed by professionals to confirm it’s ADA compliant.
Reach out today to schedule an appointment or to discuss any specific questions you may have about your space.