Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, then put the legislation in action with a set of accessibility guidelines in 1992. ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government services, public...
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Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, then put the legislation in action with a set of accessibility guidelines in 1992. ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government services, public transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications. A common myth is that buildings constructed before ADA legislation are exempt from accessibility laws. Some are; most are not.
Code officials require government buildings, schools and public utilities to be accessible, regardless of their age. ADA regulations require schools to make sure that each program, service and activity, when viewed in its entirety, is accessible to people with disabilities. Codes typically require that buildings undergoing alteration be brought up to current code, including accessibility. Some states have special accessibility requirements for hospitals and nursing homes.
Code authorities are constantly under pressure from disability advocates to pass laws to make all public buildings accessible, regardless of age. Today’s code enforcement typically exempts older buildings if building modifications are prohibitively expensive or impossible to achieve. This “gray” area is subject to considerable interpretation. In litigious states such as California and Massachusetts, building owners often find it less expensive to make modifications to their buildings than to incur legal expenses fighting a law suit.
While building codes define accessibility details such as handrails, restroom facilities and counter heights, doors are the most common source of accessibility problems. Accessibility codes define minimum clear opening width, opening force limits, maximum threshold height, minimum side clearance for wheelchair maneuverability and the installation of levers or pulls that disabled people can use.
While accessibility codes and standards appear quite specific, putting such measures in place requires careful planning and creativity. Locksmith wholesalers offer many products that can work in combination to solve accessibility problems.
Locksmiths’ first accessibility upgrades are likely the conversion of knobs to levers. Building codes require locksets and pulls that can be operated by people without the use of fingers.
Several manufacturers make lever conversion kits that clamp onto existing knobs to make them compliant. Aftermarket conversion levers are typically made of a strong plastic to prevent “sagging” from the unsupported weight. It is generally impractical to attempt to adapt a metal lever to a knob lock because the springs and internal mechanisms of older locksets were not designed to support the weight and torque that levers exert. It is better to replace the entire lockset with a new lever lock. Some jurisdictions require levers to return to within a half-inch of the door so as not to snag firefighters’ clothing and hoses.
Thresholds present significant obstacles to the front wheels of a wheelchair. Accessibility codes typically specify a ½” maximum height. Higher thresholds, particularly those with an extruded stop, tend to turn leading wheelchair wheels and cause the chair to stop abruptly. Removing or installing a lower threshold may require the addition of brush weather stripping on the door bottom to reduce air infiltration.
Perhaps the most challenging accessibility upgrades involve door opening force limits, side clearance and clear opening width. Accessibility codes and ADA require a 32-inch clear opening measured from the face of an open door to the stop or edge of the opposite leaf of a pair. Typically, the projection of locks or touch-pad exit devices is exempt from these measurements because a wheelchair will pass beneath them.
With extra effort and training, locksmiths can become accessibility and security experts.
ED800s are designed for easy, one-person installation. The basic unit is non-handed and the control unit is non-mount specific. You can change from a pull side to a push side mount simply by...