ADA Closers

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.

What Does That Have To Do With Doors?

ADA-compliant doors must be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. The law calls for entryways to be at least 32 inches wide, as measured between the door’s face and the opposite doorstop when the door is open 90 degrees. Clearance around doors must be 36 inches.

What About Those Push Plate With The Handicap Symbol?

From a codes and standards perspective, there are three basic types of automatic operators for swinging doors:

  • power-assist
  • low-energy
  • full-power

Power-assist operators reduce the opening force so the door can be manually opened more easily, but some manually applied force is still necessary. These operators are usually activated by pushing or pulling the door, although occasionally a wall-mounted actuator is employed to reduce the force only for users who need that feature.

Low-energy operators are often used when the door will be opened manually by some users and automatically by others. The doors are subject to limitations on opening speed and force to curtail the generation of kinetic energy and the potential for injury. Further, they must be operated by a ‘knowing act,’ as described later in this article.

Due to these limits, most doors with low-energy operators are not required to have safety sensors, control mats, or guide rails. Both power-assist and low-energy operators must comply with American National Standards Institute/Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (ANSI/BHMA) A156.19, Power-assist and Low-energy-operated Doors.

Our technicians are AADM certified. So what does that mean?

The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM), has established a program to certify automatic door inspectors. Through this program, inspectors are trained to check Low Energy automatic door systems for compliance with the American National Standards Institute standard ANSI/BHMA A156.19 (Low Energy).

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