Exterior Doorway Accessibility:

The Accessible Exterior Doorway:

Exterior doorways can oftentimes be a major safety hazard in a home. Be it getting into the home, out of the home, or simply trying to get over the threshold, doorways are a major fall hazard. The location of the main entrance to the home should be easily accessible to anyone, including those using wheelchairs and walkers. It is also necessary to note the importance of having two means of egress out of the house in case of fire or other emergency. If only one doorway is accessible for a person with mobility problems and that person can’t get to that egress, the results could be tragic. Two means of accessible egress not only create a safe environment for an individual, but it also helps everyone else who comes in and out of the house on a daily basis.

Space Utilization
The way in which a door swings open and closed can have a major impact on who can safely and effectively use it. A person in a wheelchair would have a hard time opening a door from inside the home that swings in towards him/her. Likewise, a person using a walker who is standing on entryway steps would have a hard problem opening an exterior storm door that swings out towards him/her while on the steps. Looking at the limitations of the individual and how these doors move is a good first step in deciding what should and can be done.

Exterior door thresholds have always been designed with the idea to be wide and tall to keep the elements out. Unfortunately, this same principle causes those with mobility issues to have an extremely hard time getting over them with wheelchairs, walkers or just their feet. Today’s market has lots of different styles and varieties of exterior doors to choose from, many with a roll-over or reduced threshold option included.

Door Hardware
More often than not, the actual hardware used to open and close the exterior doors (ie: doorknobs, latches, etc.) are the hardest part to use for a person with limited mobility. There are many different kinds of door hardware out there that can make an individual’s life much easier. A simple handle/lever system instead of traditional doorknobs is a nice safety feature as well as spot-lighting for the keyholes in case of nighttime use. A true solution to door hardware problems is to install an automatic door opening system that will safely and secure open doors with the push of button.






Top Recommendations:

  • Determine the width of all exteriors doorways and make sure at least 2 are fully accessible means of egress for an individual using a wheelchair.
  • Reduce the size of the doorway thresholds.
  • Consider a push-button opening system to increase ease of use.
  • Determine if handles or levers are a better fit for an individual than doorknobs.      



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