Disability Discrimination Act – Access To Goods And Services

Making Access to Goods and Services Easier for Disabled Customers: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses and Other Service Providers


Making doors easier to use

Doorways and doors are another typical barrier to access for disabled customers, whether because of their width, design of threshold, heaviness of operation, or difficulties in operating the door handles.

In terms of access for wheelchair users, at least 750 mm clear opening width (i.e. the actual space that is available between the door frame and the door in the open position) and a maximum of 13mm lip at the threshold is generally considered suitable. It is worth considering whether physical adaptation could achieve this, and you will need technical advice if you are planning to adjust or widen a doorway (which may or may not be possible depending on various factors) or alter the threshold (see Technical Advice). Even without carrying out major structural alterations, there are many things that you can consider doing to make doors easier to use by many of your disabled customers:

Practical suggestions:

  • Positioning of the door handle: could the handle be positioned more conveniently (recommended height 1000mm)?
  • Replacing the door handle: could the handle be replaced by one which is easier to grip, such as a D-shape handle, and with better colour contrast? These adjustments would benefit customers with, for example, arthritis and with visual impairments (indeed many older customers who would not necessarily consider themselves disabled do have difficulties using knobs and handles).
  • Making the door easier to open: door opening pressure can often be altered very easily to make the door much easier to open. This benefits customers who have mobility impairments or difficulty balancing. Magnetic devices which hold the door open for normal use but allow them to close for fire protection may be considered.
  • Checking that entrance mats are flush: this can prevent a potential tripping hazard to customers with visual impairments (who may not see the hazard) and to customers using aids such as walking sticks or crutches or who have difficulty keeping their balance. It is best to avoid bristle matting which may be difficult for wheelchair users to cross.
  • Glazed doors: people with impaired vision may not recognise fully glazed doors and may walk into them. Could you add safety markings half way up the door?
  • Maintaining doors: ensuring that door closers are regularly maintained, that door ironmongery is kept clean and free-moving and that standard (side-hung) doors accompanying revolving doors are kept unlocked can benefit all customers, particularly those with mobility impairments and those using assistance dogs as well as customers carrying shopping or with buggies.
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