Excerpted from " ADA Guide for Small Businesss" http://www.ada.gov/smbustxt.htm
Providing physical access to a facility from public sidewalks, public transportation, or parking is basic to making goods and services available to people with disabilities. Having only one step at the entrance can prevent access by a person using a wheelchair, walker, or cane and can make entry difficult for many other people with mobility disabilities.
Where one or two steps exist at an entrance, access can be achieved in a variety of ways -- for example, by using an alternate accessible entrance, adding a short ramp, modifying the area in front or to the side of the entrance to eliminate a step, or installing a lift.
When a business has two public entrances, in most cases, only one must be accessible. The shop shown in the photo (bottom right) has a street entrance and is also served by an accessible entrance from the building lobby at the other side of the store. Using the lobby entrance provides access to the store. When one entrance is not accessible and another entrance is accessible, a sign must provide direction to the accessible entrance. The alternative entrance must be open during store hours. If the alternative accessible entrance is not left unlocked due to security concerns, you must provide an accessible way for notifying staff to open the door, such as a buzzer or bell. If used, the buzzer or call bell must be located on an accessible route and mounted at an accessible height (generally not more than 48 inches above ground).
When a ramp is added to provide an accessible entrance, the slope of the ramp should be as shallow as possible but not more than 1:12. It is also important to provide handrails whenever the slope is more that 1:20 and the vertical rise is greater than 6 inches (a slope of 1:20 means that for every 20 units of horizontal length there is one unit of vertical rise or fall). It is best to grade the area that is adjacent to the ramp to avoid an abrupt drop-off. If a drop-off exists, then a barrier such as a raised edge or railing must be installed. Edge protection is very important because it prevents people from accidentally rolling off the edge of the ramp. The ramp that is shown (page 6, top right ) uses railings and edge protection. Edge protection could also be provided by a lower railing installed parallel to the ramp surface.
notes on photo - Edge protection prevents people from rolling over the edge of the ramp.
Wide landing accommodates turns needed to enter or exit the store.
note on photo - Example of a sign that directs customers to the nearest accessible entrance. (sign has an international symbol of accessibility, an arrow and accessible entrance in Walnut Street Lobby)
The photo (upper right) illustrates another way to modify an entrance to make it accessible. A level landing area is provided in front of the entry door so a person can pull the door open. The area adjacent to the landing is graded flush with the landing so no drop-off exists between the landing and the grass area eliminating the need for railings. The earth is also graded flush with the ramp surface to eliminate a drop-off.
Lever handle added to or in place of round door knob.
Landing extends 18" minimum beyond the edge of door and 60" minimum out from door.
New landing and ramp eliminates step at entrance.
Earth is graded up to landing and ramp to eliminate drop off.
Ramp slope max. 1:12 and width is 36" minimum
Another approach to providing access at an entrance is to use a platform or folding lift. Lifts are mechanical devices that can be used to transport a person using a wheelchair or scooter up or down several feet. A lift may be a preferred solution where little space exists for a ramp or when an entrance serves more than one level. For example, had the bookstore shown in the photo (page 6, bottom right) not had an alternate entrance that was accessible, a lift could have been installed. Lifts require periodic maintenance and must meet safety codes but are worthwhile considerations when a ramp is not feasible.
When it is not readily achievable to provide an accessible entrance, the goods and services must be provided in some other way, if doing so is readily achievable. For example, if a restaurant has several steps at the entrance and no accessible entry is possible, providing home delivery or some alternative service may be required. In other cases, it may be possible to receive an order by telephone and to have a clerk bring the order to the customer outside the store or business. If alternative service is provided, it is important that it be publicized so a customer knows how the goods and services are offered.
Doors at Entrances to Businesses
Most entrances to stores and businesses use 36 inch wide doors that are wide enough to be accessible. However, some older doors are less than 36 inches wide and may not provide enough width (32 inch clear width when fully opened). Door openings can sometimes be enlarged. It may also be possible to use special "swing clear" hinges that provide approximately 1 1/2 inches more clearance without replacing the door and door frame.
Inaccessible door hardware can also prevent access to the business. For example, the handle shown below requires the user to tightly grasp the handle to open the door. Many people with mobility disabilities and others with a disability that limits grasping, such as arthritis, find this type of handle difficult or impossible to use.
Other types of door hardware, such as a round door knob (which requires tight grasping and twisting to operate) or a handle with a thumb latch (see above -- center) are also inaccessible and must be modified or replaced, if doing so is readily achievable.
Changing or adding door hardware is usually relatively easy and inexpensive. A round doorknob can be replaced with a lever handle or modified by adding a clamp-on lever. In some cases, a thumb latch can be disabled so the door can be pulled open without depressing the latch or the hardware may be replaced. A flat panel-type pull handle can be replaced with a loop-type handle.
Turnstiles and Security Gates at Entrances
Businesses with narrow revolving turnstiles located at the entrance exclude people with disabilities unless accessible gates or passages are provided. Standard narrow turnstiles are not usable by wheelchair users and by most people who walk with crutches, walkers, or canes. Whenever a narrow turnstile is used, an accessible turnstile, gate or opening must be provided, if doing so is readily achievable.
If an inaccessible turnstile is located at the entrance to the business and no accessible gate or entry is provided, it must be replaced or removed or an alternative accessible entrance provided, if doing so is readily achievable. For most businesses, removing or altering the turnstile is not difficult. For some businesses, providing an alternative accessible entrance may be an acceptable solution if the business has two or more doors that could function as entrances. For example, a store that has an inaccessible turnstile at the entrance but also has an exit door (with no turnstile) located near the cash register may be able to use the exit door as an alternative entrance. It may be readily achievable to add an accessible door handle to the outside of the exit door, install a sign that designates this door as the accessible entrance, and permit people with disabilities to enter through the exit door.
Eliminating the barrier caused by a turnstile may be accomplished by simply removing the turnstile and leaving the opening. To assure passage of people using wheelchairs, or crutches, the opening must be at least 32 inches wide. If it is not readily achievable to provide a minimum 32 inch wide opening, then the opening should be as wide as possible. If a security gate is required, then the turnstile may be removed and replaced with an accessible gate, if readily achievable. Where a business wishes to retain its standard turnstile, it may provide an accessible gate adjacent to the turnstile.