Posted on - Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The ADA has requirements for elevators that are extensive and sometimes difficult to understand.  Recently when I performed an inspection, I came across one of the requirements that was not clear to me or my client.  The re-opening device timing.

For elevators, we are not only required to comply with the ADA, but also ASME A17.1-2000 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, including ASME A17.1a-2002 Addenda and ASME A17.1b-2003 Addenda.  This newsletter will discuss the requirements for opening and re-opening devices in elevators as it relates to ADA.

Elevator Scoping

ADA section 206.6 informs us that elevators provided for passengers have to be accessible and follow the technical standards in ADA section 407.  If there are multiple elevators, all the elevators must comply.  This is because if a person with disabilities needs to use the elevator, they should not be made to use a separate elevator as everyone else, or wait for a different elevator as everyone else.  That would be a form of discrimination.

Existing elevators that comply with the 1991 ADAAG are a safe harbor.


If one existing elevators is being altered, the same alteration should occur in all the other elevators.

In a building that does not require an elevator, a building owner can choose to provide a LULA elevator or even a platform lift in lieu of a full size elevator.

Technical requirements

Section 407 describes what an accessible passenger elevator requires.  Some of those requirements are listed below.  These requirements are mainly for new elevators as existing elevators are somewhat exempted.

Call Control Buttons:

  1. Call control buttons should be within reach range specified in 308, except if existing call buttons are mounted at 54″ a.f.f. which was allowed in the 1991 ADAAG , they can remain at that height.
  2. The call button should have a clear floor space in front of it.  It does not need to be centered.
  3. Call buttons shall have visible signals to indicate each call is registered and when each call is answered.


 Hall Signals

  1. Each hoistway entrance  shall have a visible and audible signals to indicate which car is answering a call and the car’s direction of travel (up or down).
  2. The visible signal should be mounted at 72″ a.f.f. to its centerline
  3. Audible signals has several requirements and some exceptions.


Hoistway Signs

  1. Floor designation shall be provided on both jambs of the elevator hoistway entrances and it should be provided with both tactile and braille characters.


Elevator Doors

  1. Elevator doors shall be horizontal sliding which open and close automatically.
  2. The elevator door should have a re-opening device which will stop and re-open the door automatically.
  3. This re-opening device should sense an obstruction 5″-29″ a.f.f. without physical contact.
  4. The reopening device shall remain effective for 20 seconds.  This does NOT mean that it should remain OPEN for 20 seconds, just effective.  There is a separate requirement to figure out how long the car door should remain open until the car begins to close, and it is a formula that is provided at 407.3.4

There are other requirements for reopening devices that the ASME A17.1 requires.


There are many other requirements from car size, interior car controls, and emergency communication devices.

Upcoming CEU opportunities

August 14- “Applying the ADA in Interior Spaces” Metrocon in Dallas Texas

August 19- “Applying the ADA in Existing Buildings” Webinar for Green CE

September 9- Barrier Free Seminar at AIA Dallas

November 6- Early Bird Three Hr Seminar at the TSA Convention in Houston Texas

We are celebrating our 10th year of service to the building industry as a Registered Accessibility Specialist!  Mention this newsletter and receive 10% off your next review or inspection.

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”

“Applying the ADA” published by Wiley. 

They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714

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