Door and gate hardware is required by the accessibility standards to have a shape that is easy to grasp with one hand and that does not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.  Lever handles, extended-length thumbturns, panic hardware, and many door pulls meet these requirements.  Because keys are not considered an “operable part” of the hardware, they are not addressed by the accessibility standards and are acceptable even though they require tight grasping, pinching, and twisting of the wrist.

The releasing hardware used to retract a latchbolt or deadbolt is required to be mounted at a height where it may be operated by all building occupants, including people using wheelchairs.  Some states, such as California and Massachusetts, impose a more restrictive range for the mounting height of operable hardware, so it’s important to be familiar with the local code requirements.

Prior to the 2010 edition of the ADA standards, the amount of force required to operate hardware on doors and gates was not addressed in the accessibility standards.  In an editorial change, a reference was added to the 2010 ADA standards which required hardware to comply with the section on operable parts.  This section includes a 5-pound limit on the force required for operation.

The 2009 edition of ICC A117.1 does not include a limit on the amount of force required to operate hardware on doors and gates.  In the 2017 edition of ICC A117.1, limits on operable force were added which differ from the 5-pound limit established by the ADA.  It remains to be seen how this conflict will be addressed in the future.

For more information regarding the mounting height requirements for operable hardware refer to this Decoded article, and for the requirements pertaining to operable force, read this Decoded article.  Then proceed to the review questions below.

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Review Questions

1. The 2010 ADA standards include an important change with regard to hardware mounting height – the prior edition required hardware to be mounted no more than 48 inches AFF. What is the allowable mounting height range in the 2010 ADA standards?

  1. No more than 43 inches AFF
  2. Above 15 inches AFF
  3. Between 34-44 inches AFF
  4. Between 34-48 inches AFF

2. The 2010 ADA standards impose which of the following limitations on the opening force for operable hardware?

  1. 5 pounds, maximum
  2. 15 pounds, maximum, for a forward, pushing or pulling motion
  3. 28 inch-pounds, maximum, for a rotational motion
  4. Answers B & C

3. The 2017 edition of ICC A117.1 imposes which of the following limitations on the opening force for operable hardware?

  1. 5 pounds, maximum
  2. 15 pounds, maximum, for a forward, pushing or pulling motion
  3. 28 inch-pounds, maximum, for a rotational motion
  4. Answers B & C

Answers: 1 – D, 2 – A, 3 – D

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