My last post was about the method of measuring the clear opening width of a door that doesn’t open to 90 degrees. After reading the codes and the commentaries and having several discussions with someone from the ICC, I posted a graphic of a 32″ cylinder passing through the opening, as described by the ICC.
Someone copied a link to my blog post onto a code-related discussion board and asked if the code officials and code consultants (and others) who frequent the board agreed. I welcome and appreciate this sort of feedback because it represents what is accepted in “the real world,” and often the group’s members have great suggestions and other things to consider.
There was a bit of discussion about whether a door that would accommodate the hypothetical 32″ diameter cylinder would be considered accessible. Another suggestion was to use a rectangle, which is a better representation of a wheelchair.
ICC/ANSI A117.1 and the ADAAG describe clear floor space for a wheelchair as 30″ x 48″, but one of the group members suggested dimensions of 32″ x 48″ since 32″ is the required clear width for a door. If the 32″ x 48″ rectangle would fit through the door in its fully-open position, the general consensus was that this would be an acceptable way to evaluate accessibility. There are other factors which may affect a specific application, such as landing size, direction of approach, and obstructions around the door opening. The rectangle method is just a suggestion/interpretation, not an enforceable code requirement.
I checked back with the ICC in light of these suggestions, and I was told that the intent was for accessible doors to open at least 90 degrees. For existing doors that are restricted to something less than that, the options are to get creative with the hardware (ie. try to change whatever is preventing the door from opening to 90 degrees) or to use either the rectangle or cylinder method of measurement.
The bottom line is that this is still a bit of a grey area, but either of the two methods – cylinder or rectangle – may be acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction.