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Accessible Home Design: Choosing the Right Door



Carefully consider the type of hardware that you choose to install on your pocket door. Flush recessed pull hardware requires fine hand function to operate. Projecting surface mounted pull hardware is easy to grasp and operate but reduces the openings width. Special flush projecting hardware is easy to grasp but does not close down the opening. (Click Image to Enlarge)
Carefully consider the type of hardware that you choose to install on your pocket door. Flush recessed pull hardware requires fine hand function to operate. Projecting surface mounted pull hardware is easy to grasp and operate but reduces the openings width. Special flush projecting hardware is easy to grasp but does not close down the opening. (Click Image to Enlarge)

Doors are an important part of a home’s décor. Stock styles have raised panels, flush veneers, or even batten boards or variety of glass panels. Doors can be made of wood, metal, or several composite materials; they can be solid or of hollow-core construction. They can be installed as singles or pairs; they can operate by sliding, swinging, or folding back on themselves. In order to serve wheelchair users, accessible doors must:

  • Be wide enough to allow comfortable passage
  • Be installed with adequate maneuvering clearance to open and then pass through the unit
  • Include  a low threshold or transition strip that won’t obstruct a wheelchair’s small caster wheels
  • Be equipped with appropriate hardware that can be operated with low hand function



Pocket doors are an option for many installations. The units are hung from an overhead track so there are no requirements for a threshold. If you have good hand function, recessed pull hardware can be used. If you need surface-mounted pull hardware, the door must always remain partly open so the opening width is effectively reduced.
Pocket doors are an option for many installations. The units are hung from an overhead track so there are no requirements for a threshold. If you have good hand function, recessed pull hardware can be used. If you need surface-mounted pull hardware, the door must always remain partly open so the opening width is effectively reduced.



This installation shows a tapered ramp on both sides of a slider that opens onto a deck.
This installation shows a tapered ramp on both sides of a slider that opens onto a deck.



Small tapered ramps for sliding doors can facilitate wheelchair passage over the bottom tracks. When the ramp is installed, the insect screen is eliminated. Without the screen, the unit functions exclusively as a door, not as a ventilating window.
Small tapered ramps for sliding doors can facilitate wheelchair passage over the bottom tracks. When the ramp is installed, the insect screen is eliminated. Without the screen, the unit functions exclusively as a door, not as a ventilating window.

Copyright Paralyzed Veterans of America





For more in-depth information on making your home accessible, follow this link to purchase the PVA’s second edition of Accessible Home Design: Architectural Solutions for the Wheelchair User or buy it directly from Amazon.