Meeting ADA Standards

A single section, ADA 4.13.1 through 4.13.12 (Doors), deals with locksmith-related hardware.


All locksmiths are governed by a variety of regulatory requirements including building codes, life safety codes, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Locksmiths have to deal with government and related agencies. Knowing the rules and regulations plays a significant role in the choices of door hardware and its installation. Not abiding by the rules can result in significant problems.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits -- under certain circumstances -- discrimination based on disability. Disability, roughly stated, is a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting a significant activity in someone’s life. Because the ADA is an Act, determination of whether a condition is considered a disability is made on an individual basis. Specific conditions that are excluded from disabilities include impairments that are correctable, such as vision and current substance abuse.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), effective January 1, 2009, broadened the interpretation of the ADA and countermanded prior court rulings that were considered too restrictive regarding expansion of the scope of the ADA.

On Sept. 15, 2010, the Department of Justice published in the Federal Register revised regulations in Title II Government (local and State) and Title III (private sector) of the ADA. The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) governs access to federally funded facilities, including federal, military, and post office buildings.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design set minimum requirements to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This adoption establishes a revised reference point for entities undertaking readily achievable barrier removal.

When dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a single section, ADA 4.13.1 through 4.13.12 (Doors), deals with locksmith-related hardware.

Here are some examples:

Doorways shall have a minimum 32” clear opening with the door open 90 degrees, measured from the face of the door and the opposite stop. The measurement is made from any piece of door hardware that extends beyond the door face. This can include an exit device push bar in the extended position. Exceptions include shallow closets.

If the door is equipped with a door closer, the sweep period of the closer shall be from an open position of 70 degrees, the door will take at least 3 seconds to move to a point three inches from the latch, measured to the leading edge of the door. The centerline of the door handle or lever cannot be higher that 48” above the finished floor. Door locks must be operable using a single closed fist. Levers, push-type mechanisms, and U-shaped handles are acceptable designs. Of necessity, this means older style knob locks would not be usable.

Force Limitations: There are maximum amount of force limitations for operating a door lock and opening a door. There can be a 15 pounds force maximum required to release the latch. Up to a maximum of 30 pounds force can be required to set the door in motion from closed position to approximately four inches. A maximum of five pounds force for interior doors, to swing the door from four inches to open position. The open position varies depending upon location. A maximum of 15 pounds force for exterior doors, to swing the door from four inches to open position. The forces are applied along the latch side of the door.

To meet ADA regulations, it is necessary to determine the amount of pounds force required to release the latch, set the door in motion and swing the door to the open position. A Door Pressure Gauge (DPG) can be used. Most DPG’s have a range of 0-35 pounds. The more pressure exerted against the gauge, the higher the pound force being applied.

When using a DPG, move the O-ring to the zero position on the scale. To test releasing the latch, place the rubber tip against the top edge of the lever or handle and push down to retract the latch bolt. The bolt should retract into the edge of the door with no more than 15 pounds force. Read the gauge.

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