Someone asked me last week whether a door pull operated by the user’s foot would meet the accessibility requirements. The answer seems obvious, right? How can a pull operated by someone’s foot be used for a door on an accessible route? Those doors have to be operable by everyone, including someone using a wheelchair; hardware must be mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor, be operable with no tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist, and no special knowledge or effort (read on!).
While a foot-operated pull doesn’t require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting, it would not meet the intent of the accessibility standards if it was the only means of pulling the door open. BUT…if there was another pull on the door which met the accessibility requirements, I don’t see a code problem with installing a foot-operated pull in addition. These pulls are becoming more common for restroom doors, but I have never seen them installed as the only pull on the door. In the application from last week, the foot-operated pull was intended for use by an employee who does not have the use of his arms, but has full use of his legs. Seems like a perfect application!
You might be thinking, “But what about the requirement for a 10-inch-high area at the bottom of the door where no protrusions are allowed?” That 10-inch flush area is only required on the push side of manual doors. The pull is mounted on the pull side. It wouldn’t affect the clear opening width, it shouldn’t be an encroachment issue, and by nature it wouldn’t be used on a fire door, so I can’t think of any code-related problems with using it. And it saves trees because I don’t have to use a paper towel to avoid touching the door pull.
What do you think?
Photo and Graphic: StepNpull