When was the last time you consciously thought about how you open a door? This morning? Yesterday? Last month? Chances are it's not something that you've actively thought about in a while. For those with a disability of some kind however, it may well be something they think about quite regularly.
If you think about an average day, how many times do you open and close doors? Obviously it will depend on what you do for a living, but I'd hazard a guess that it's easily into the 10s if not 20s or more, and I'm not including car doors in that figure either. Some of the doors we encounter every day may be automatic doors and open as we approach, removing the need to use a handle, push the door or pull on it, others may well be straight forward push doors, whilst the majority probably involve turning a handle or knob.
Making it Easy.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the successor to it, the Equality Act 2010, set out a range of criteria that have to be met across many aspects of day to day life, meaning that businesses and organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments (or changes) to avoid putting people with disabilities at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled. Part of this duty relates to 'physical features' such as the layout of and access to buildings such as shops, offices, train stations and so on.
A door of some sort will be the primary means of access to your premises, and there are various things to consider to ensure that you comply with the provisions of the act. Contrast between the door frame, door and surrounding wall provides visual assistance to partially sighted visitors to your premises, helping them determine where the door is. Similarly providing a contrast in colour between the door handle and the door further assists those with visual impairments. The handles you use also need to be suitable for use by people who may not be able to easily grasp it; one description we've seen refers to the handle needing to be suitable for operation with a closed fist. With this in mind, a door knob isn't a good choice, but handles that are lever style with a minimum diameter of 19mm on the grip are suitable. It is also important to ensure that there is a gap of at least 45mm between the handle and the face of the door and the handle is situated at a height of 1000mm from the base of the door, making it easily reachable for a wheelchair user. Door Pull handles should be at least 400mm in length.
Where there is a need to provide a privacy lock, such as on a bathroom or toilet door, again these should be easy to use. Styles that have a lever rather than a snib to operate the lock are ideal, and should also provide a means by which to unlock the door from the outside in an emergency. Fitting pull door handles on both sides of the door allows for the door to be pulled open and closed easily.
For a more detailed look at the criteria that your door furniture needs to meet, and other items also covered by the Approved Document M and British Standard 8300, have a look here.
Throughout our extensive range of door handles and privacy turns & releases we have a number of products that are suitable for use in your premises and may assist you in meeting the criteria specified for compliance with the Act (look for the wheelchair icon!). We also have a range of items that facilitate electronic access control for your premises - to find out more about these, click the link below:
If you have any questions or queries about suitable products, or whether something you are considering is appropriate for use, please do get in touch!