After 30 Years, Schools are Not ADA Compliant

About 70% of school districts have plans to improve the accessibility of their facilities in the next three years.

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Currently, more than 50 million Americans with disabilities make up 18% of the U.S. population.

Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, most of the nation’s public school districts remain inaccessible to students with disabilities, government investigators say.

To be ADA compliant, an interior door can not have an opening force of more than 5 pounds. To guarantee an interior door with a closer can maintain 5 pounds or less opening force, requires a door closer that will adjust down to size 1. Exterior or fire doors must have the minimum opening force allowed by your local fire code, usually 7.5 pounds.

ADA: Legal requirements for doors

At least 60% of public entrances in newly built facilities must be accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments.

About 70% of school districts have plans to improve the accessibility of their facilities in the next three years, the report indicated. That includes everything from large-scale renovations to small upgrades like changing door hardware or signage. Cost issues were frequently cited by school officials as a challenge to ensuring accessibility.

Closing speed

Doors that snap closed quickly make it difficult for users, particularly those with disabilities, to get through safely.

  • Doors with closers should take at least 5 seconds to move from the open position at 90 degrees to 12 degrees from the latch.
  • Doors with spring hinges should take at least 1.5 seconds to close from the open position of 70 degrees.


Door hardware must not require more than 5 pounds of force to operate. It must also be operable with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. Lever handles and other types comply with this requirement. Traditional round doorknobs are not accessible, as they require tight grasping and twisting to turn.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that in 63% of public school districts, at least one-quarter of facilities are not physically accessible to those with disabilities, according to Disability Scoop. Problems at the schools included steep ramps, inaccessible playgrounds and restrooms and door handles that are difficult to use. In 17% of districts, some schools typically do not serve students with physical disabilities because of the barriers in their buildings.