ADA Specifications for Wheelchair Threshold Ramps


The following will provide information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines regarding primary door threshold ramps and landings. Please also consult your local building codes, as these may have additional requirements or variations.

Before making changes to your building entrance to make it more accessible, it is important to be familiar with ADA specifications. Below is some information to help you learn more about ADA codes and how to comply with them. Also, at the bottom of the page there are some interesting ADA related links to provide additional information.

ADA OVERVIEW

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was set forth in 1990. The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, enabling them to share in and contribute to the vitality of American life. The ADA means access to:

  • Jobs
  • Public accommodations
  • Government services
  • Public transportation
  • Telecommunications

ADA's regulations are issued and enforced by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation. The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) of the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board (ATBCB) require public facilities and grounds to comply with design, construction, and installation standards. Although not binding to personal residences, these standards should be taken into consideration when purchasing a modular ramp.

WHERE DO THRESHOLD RAMPS AND LANDINGS FIT IN?

Selecting the correct wheelchair threshold ramp or level landing system for door entrances is important for ADA compliance and preventing trips and falls. Familiarity with ADA codes will help you choose the correct products and avoid costly renovations that do not comply with ADA standards. Often thousands of dollars are spent on concrete demolition and construction only to find out later that the work done does not meet all of the ADA's requirements. Products such as SafePath's EntryLevel™ Landings can provide you with an ADA compliant ramp system that is easy to install and is a fraction of the cost of concrete.

ADA specifications apply to public accommodations (i.e. private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation). This includes commercial facilities such as offices and factories, restaurants, stores, hotels, hospitals, libraries, laundromats, theaters, parks, zoos, private schools, day care centers, health spas, bowling alleys, and more. Different levels of access modification may be required for existing facilities versus new construction, however, there is no "grandfather clause" that would exempt existing facilities from these requirements.

Four basic requirements should be considered when evaluating access code compliance at primary door thresholds with a change in level greater than 1/2 inch:

  1. Is there a maneuverable level surface (60" x 60" typical minimum) at the entrance?
  2. Is there appropriate strike-side clearance?
  3. Is there a ramped approach at 1:12?
  4. Is there no more than 2% slope in any direction on the landing surface?

Although a ramp or landing system installed at a private residence typically is not obligated to meet ADAAG requirements, by following these guidelines the end user is assured acceptable levels of convenience, comfort, and safety:

2010 ADA Standards will be mandatory March 15, 2012. (1991 ADA Standards are usable until then.)

201 APPLICATION

201.1 Scope. All areas of newly designed and newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities shall comply with these requirements. Advisory 201.1 Scope. These requirements are to be applied to all areas of a facility unless exempted, or where scoping limits the number of multiple elements required to be accessible. For example, not all medical care patient rooms are required to be accessible; those that are not required to be accessible are not required to comply with these requirements. However, common use and public use spaces such as recovery rooms, examination rooms, and cafeterias are not exempt from these requirements and must be accessible.

201.2 Application Based on Building or Facility Use. Where a site, building, facility, room, or space contains more than one use, each portion shall comply with the applicable requirements for that use.

201.3 Temporary and Permanent Structures. These requirements shall apply to temporary and permanent buildings and facilities. Advisory 201.3 Temporary and Permanent Structures. Temporary buildings or facilities covered by these requirements include, but are not limited to, reviewing stands, temporary classrooms, bleacher areas, stages, platforms and daises, fixed furniture systems, wall systems, and exhibit areas, temporary banking facilities, and temporary health screening facilities. Structures and equipment directly associated with the actual processes of construction are not required to be accessible as permitted in 203.2.

202 EXISTING BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES

202.1 General. Additions and alterations to existing buildings or facilities shall comply with 202.

202.2 Additions. Each addition to an existing building or facility shall comply with the requirements for new construction. Each addition that affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area containing a primary function shall comply with 202.4.

202.3 Alterations. Where existing elements or spaces are altered, each altered element or space shall comply with the applicable requirements of Chapter 2. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Unless required by 202.4, where elements or spaces are altered and the circulation path to the altered element or space is not altered, an accessible route shall not be required. 2. In alterations, where compliance with applicable requirements is technically infeasible, the alteration shall comply with the requirements to the maximum extent feasible. 3. Residential dwelling units not required to be accessible in compliance with a standard issued pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, shall not be required to comply with 202.3. Advisory 202.3 Alterations. Although covered entities are permitted to limit the scope of an alteration to individual elements, the alteration of multiple elements within a room or space may provide a cost-effective opportunity to make the entire room or space accessible. Any elements or spaces of the building or facility that are required to comply with these requirements must be made accessible within the scope of the alteration, to the maximum extent feasible. If providing accessibility in compliance with these requirements for people with one type of disability (e.g., people who use wheelchairs) is not feasible, accessibility must still be provided in compliance with the requirements for people with other types of disabilities (e.g., people who have hearing impairments or who have vision impairments) to the extent that such accessibility is feasible.

  • 202.3.1 Prohibited Reduction in Access. An alteration that decreases or has the effect of decreasing the accessibility of a building or facility below the requirements for new construction at the time of the alteration is prohibited.
  • 202.3.2 Extent of Application. An alteration of an existing element, space, or area of a building or facility shall not impose a requirement for accessibility greater than required for new construction.

202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas. In addition to the requirements of 202.3, an alteration that affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area containing a primary function shall be made so as to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible, the path of travel to the altered area, including the rest rooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless such alterations are disproportionate to the overall alterations in terms of cost and scope as determined under criteria established by the Attorney General. In existing transportation facilities, an area of primary function shall be as defined under regulations published by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation or the Attorney General. EXCEPTION: Residential dwelling units shall not be required to comply with 202.4. Advisory 202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas. An area of a building or facility containing a major activity for which the building or facility is intended is a primary function area. Department of Justice ADA regulations state, "Alterations made to provide an accessible path of travel to the altered area will be deemed disproportionate to the overall alteration when the cost exceeds 20% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area." (28 CFR 36.403 (f)(1)). See also Department of Transportation ADA regulations, which use similar concepts in the context of public sector transportation facilities (49 CFR 37.43 (e)(1)). There can be multiple areas containing a primary function in a single building. Primary function areas are not limited to public use areas. For example, both a bank lobby and the bank's employee areas such as the teller areas and walk-in safe are primary function areas. Also, mixed use facilities may include numerous primary function areas for each use. Areas containing a primary function do not include: mechanical rooms, boiler rooms, supply storage rooms, employee lounges or locker rooms, janitorial closets, entrances, corridors, or restrooms.

202.5 Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities. Alterations to a qualified historic building or facility shall comply with 202.3 and 202.4. EXCEPTION: Where the State Historic Preservation Officer or Advisory Council on Historic Preservation determines that compliance with the requirements for accessible routes, entrances, or toilet facilities would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities for that element shall be permitted to apply. Advisory 202.5 Alterations to Qualified Historic Buildings and Facilities Exception. State Historic Preservation Officers are State appointed officials who carry out certain responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act. State Historic Preservation Officers consult with Federal and State agencies, local governments, and private entities on providing access and protecting significant elements of qualified historic buildings and facilities. There are exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings and facilities for accessible routes (206.2.1 Exception 1 and 206.2.3 Exception 7); entrances (206.4 Exception 2); and toilet facilities (213.2 Exception 2). When an entity believes that compliance with the requirements for any of these elements would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, the entity should consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer. If the State Historic Preservation Officer agrees that compliance with the requirements for a specific element would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, use of the exception is permitted. Public entities have an additional obligation to achieve program accessibility under the Department of Justice ADA regulations. See 28 CFR 35.150. These regulations require public entities that operate historic preservation programs to give priority to methods that provide physical access to individuals with disabilities. If alterations to a qualified historic building or facility to achieve program accessibility would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility, fundamentally alter the program, or result in undue financial or administrative burdens, the Department of Justice ADA regulations allow alternative methods to be used to achieve program accessibility. In the case of historic preservation programs, such as an historic house museum, alternative methods include using audio-visual materials to depict portions of the house that cannot otherwise be made accessible. In the case of other qualified historic properties, such as an historic government office building, alternative methods include relocating programs and services to accessible locations. The Department of Justice ADA regulations also allow public entities to use alternative methods when altering qualified historic buildings or facilities in the rare situations where the State Historic Preservation Officer determines that it is not feasible to provide physical access using the exceptions permitted in Section 202.5 without threatening or destroying the historic significance of the building or facility. See 28 CFR 35.151(d). The AccessAbility Office at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provides a variety of resources for museum operators and historic properties including: the Design for Accessibility Guide and the Disability Symbols. Contact NEA about these and other resources at (202) 682-5532 or www.arts.gov.

303 CHANGES IN LEVEL

303.1 General. Where changes in level are permitted in floor or ground surfaces, they shall comply with 303. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Animal containment areas shall not be required to comply with 303. 2. Areas of sport activity shall not be required to comply with 303.

303.2 Vertical. Changes in level of 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) high maximum shall be permitted to be vertical.

Vertical change in level

303.3 Beveled. Changes in level between 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) high minimum and 1/2 inch (13 mm) high maximum shall be beveled with a slope not steeper than 1:2. Advisory 303.3 Beveled. A change in level of 1/2 inch (13 mm) is permitted to be 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) vertical plus 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) beveled. However, in no case may the combined change in level exceed 1/2 inch (13 mm). Changes in level exceeding 1/2 inch (13 mm) must comply with 405 (Ramps) or 406 (Curb Ramps).

Beveled change in level

303.4 Ramps. Changes in level greater than 1/2 inch (13 mm) high shall be ramped, and shall comply with 405 or 406.

304 TURNING SPACES

304.1 General. Turning space shall comply with 304.

304.2 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of a turning space shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted. Advisory 304.2 Floor or Ground Surface Exception. As used in this section, the phrase "changes in level" refers to surfaces with slopes and to surfaces with abrupt rise exceeding that permitted in Section 303.3. Such changes in level are prohibited in required clear floor and ground spaces, turning spaces, and in similar spaces where people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices must park their mobility aids such as in wheelchair spaces, or maneuver to use elements such as at doors, fixtures, and telephones. The exception permits slopes not steeper than 1:48.

304.3 Size. Turning space shall comply with 304.3.1 or 304.3.2.

  • 304.3.1 Circular Space. The turning space shall be a space of 60 inches (1525 mm) diameter minimum. The space shall be permitted to include knee and toe clearance complying with 306.
  • 304.3.2 T-Shaped Space. The turning space shall be a T-shaped space within a 60 inch (1525 mm) square minimum with arms and base 36 inches (915 mm) wide minimum. Each arm of the T shall be clear of obstructions 12 inches (305 mm) minimum in each direction and the base shall be clear of obstructions 24 inches (610 mm) minimum. The space shall be permitted to include knee and toe clearance complying with 306 only at the end of either the base or one arm.
    T-shaped turning space

405 RAMPS

405.1 General. Ramps on accessible routes shall comply with 405. EXCEPTION: In assembly areas, aisle ramps adjacent to seating and not serving elements required to be on an accessible route shall not be required to comply with 405.

405.2 Slope. Ramp runs shall have a running slope not steeper than 1:12. EXCEPTION: In existing sites, buildings, and facilities, ramps shall be permitted to have running slopes steeper than 1:12 complying with Table 405.2 where such slopes are necessary due to space limitations. Advisory 405.2 Slope. To accommodate the widest range of users, provide ramps with the least possible running slope and, wherever possible, accompany ramps with stairs for use by those individuals for whom distance presents a greater barrier than steps, e.g., people with heart disease or limited stamina.

Table 405.2 Maximum Ramp Slope and Rise for Existing Sites, Buildings, and Facilities
Slope 1. Maximum Rise
Steeper than 1:10 but not steeper than 1:8 3 inches (75 mm)
Steeper than 1:12 but not steeper than 1:10 6 inches (150 mm)
1. A slope steeper than 1:8 is prohibited.

405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope of ramp runs shall not be steeper than 1:48. Advisory 405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope is the slope of the surface perpendicular to the direction of travel. Cross slope is measured the same way as slope is measured (i.e., the rise over the run).

405.4 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of ramp runs shall comply with 302. Changes in level other than the running slope and cross slope are not permitted on ramp runs.

405.5 Clear Width. The clear width of a ramp run and, where handrails are provided, the clear width between handrails shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, the required clear width of ramps that are a part of common use circulation paths shall be permitted to be decreased by work area equipment provided that the decrease is essential to the function of the work being performed.

405.6 Rise. The rise for any ramp run shall be 30 inches (760 mm) maximum.

405.7 Landings. Ramps shall have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run. Landings shall comply with 405.7 Advisory 405.7 Landings. Ramps that do not have level landings at changes in direction can create a compound slope that will not meet the requirements of this document. Circular or curved ramps continually change direction. Curvilinear ramps with small radii also can create compound cross slopes and cannot, by their nature, meet the requirements for accessible routes. A level landing is needed at the accessible door to permit maneuvering and simultaneously door operation.

  • 405.7.1 Slope. Landings shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.
  • 405.7.2 Width. The landing clear width shall be at least as wide as the widest ramp run leading to the landing.
  • 405.7.3 Length. The landing clear length shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) long minimum.
  • 405.7.4 Change in Direction. Ramps that change direction between runs at landings shall have a clear landing 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum by 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum.
  • 405.7.5 Doorways. Where doorways are located adjacent to a ramp landing, maneuvering clearances required by 404.2.4 and 404.3.2 shall be permitted to overlap the required landing area.
Ramp landings diagram

405.8 Handrails. Ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) shall have handrails complying with 505. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, handrails shall not be required where ramps that are part of common use circulation paths are designed to permit the installation of handrails complying with 505. Ramps not subject to the exception to 405.5 shall be designed to maintain a 36 inch (915 mm) minimum clear width when handrails are installed.

405.9 Edge Protection. Edge protection complying with 405.9.1 or 405.9.2 shall be provided on each side of ramp runs and at each side of ramp landings. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Edge protection shall not be required on ramps that are not required to have handrails and have sides complying with 406.3. 2. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings serving an adjoining ramp run or stairway. 3. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings having a vertical drop-off of 1/2 inch (13 mm) maximum within 10 inches (255 mm) horizontally of the minimum landing area specified in 405.7.

  • 405.9.1 Extended Floor or Ground Surface. The floor or ground surface of the ramp run or landing shall extend 12 inches (305 mm) minimum beyond the inside face of a handrail complying with 505. Advisory 405.9.1 Extended Floor or Ground Surface. The extended surface prevents wheelchair casters and crutch tips from slipping off the ramp surface.
  • 405.9.2 Curb or Barrier. A curb or barrier shall be provided that prevents the passage of a 4 inch (100 mm) diameter sphere, where any portion of the sphere is within 4 inches (100 mm) of the finish floor or ground surface.
  • 405.10 Wet Conditions. Landings subject to wet conditions shall be designed to prevent the accumulation of water.
Extended floor or ground surface edge protection Curb or barrier edge protection

404 DOORS, DOORWAYS, AND GATES

404.2.4 Maneuvering Clearances. Minimum maneuvering clearances at doors and gates shall comply with 404.2.4. Maneuvering clearances shall extend the full width of the doorway and the required latch side or hinge side clearance. EXCEPTION: Entry doors to hospital patient rooms shall not be required to provide the clearance beyond the latch side of the door.

  • 404.2.4.1 Swinging Doors and Gates. Swinging doors and gates shall have maneuvering clearances complying with Table 404.2.4.1.
    Table 404.2.4.1 Maneuvering Clearances at Manual Swinging Doors and Gates
    Type of Use Minimum Maneuvering Clearance
    Approach Direction Door or Gate Side Perpendicular to Doorway Parallel to Doorway (beyond latch side unless noted)
    From front Pull 60 inches (1525 mm) 18 inches (455 mm)
    From front Push 48 inches (1220 mm) 0 inches (0 mm) 1
    From hinge side Pull 60 inches (1525 mm) 36 inches (915 mm)
    From hinge side Pull 54 inches (1370 mm) 42 inches (1065 mm)
    From hinge side Push 42 inches (1065 mm) 2 22 inches (560 mm) 3
    From latch side Pull 48 inches (1220 mm) 4 24 inches (610 mm)
    From latch side Push 42 inches (1065 mm) 4 24 inches (610 mm)
    1. Add 12 inches (305 mm) if closer and latch are provided.
    2. Add 6 inches (150 mm) if closer and latch are provided.
    3. Beyond hinge side.
    4. Add 6 inches (150 mm) if closer is provided.

    Figure 404.2.4.2 Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors
    Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors
  • 404.2.4.2 Doorways without Doors or Gates, Sliding Doors, and Folding Doors. Doorways less than 36 inches (915 mm) wide without doors or gates, sliding doors, or folding doors shall have maneuvering clearances complying with Table 404.2.4.2.
    Table 404.2.4.2 Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors
      Minimum Maneuvering Clearance
    Approach Direction Perpendicular to Doorway Parallel to Doorway (beyond stop/latch side unless noted)
    From Front 48 inches (1220 mm) 0 inches (0 mm)
    From side 1 42 inches (1065 mm) 0 inches (0 mm)
    From pocket/hinge side 42 inches (1065 mm) 22 inches (560 mm) 2
    From stop/latch side 42 inches (1065 mm) 24 inches (610 mm)
    1. Doorway with no door only.
    2. Beyond pocket/hinge side.

    Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors, Sliding Doors, Gates, and Folding Doors
  • 404.2.4.3 Recessed Doors and Gates. Maneuvering clearances for forward approach shall be provided when any obstruction within 18 inches (455 mm) of the latch side of a doorway projects more than 8 inches (205 mm) beyond the face of the door, measured perpendicular to the face of the door or gate. Advisory 404.2.4.3 Recessed Doors and Gates. A door can be recessed due to wall thickness or because of the placement of casework and other fixed elements adjacent to the doorway. This provision must be applied wherever doors are recessed.
    Maneuvering Clearances at Recessed Doors and Gates
  • 404.2.4.4 Floor or Ground Surface. Floor or ground surface within required maneuvering clearances shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted. 2. Changes in level at thresholds complying with 404.2.5 shall be permitted.

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