March 12, 1999
The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator
961 Federal Building
300 East Eighth Street
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Senator Hutchison:
I am responding to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Ms. xxxxxxxxxxxx, who wrote about the difficulties experienced by individuals with disabilities when doors are not accessible at public places.
Automatic doors are not currently required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards of Accessible Design adopted by the Department of Justice. The high costs of installing automatic doors and the engineering challenges involved in achieving appropriate door closure force while providing access has resulted in the problem faced by your constituent.
However, whether to require automatic doors on at least some kinds of doors on at least some kinds of buildings is currently being considered by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board). The Access Board establishes the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which are then adopted as the minimum standard for accessibility by the Department, which may increase the requirements for accessibility and then promulgates its own regulation containing the ADA Standards.
Both the Access Board and the Department of Justice will be revising the accessible design requirements contained in the ADA Guidelines and Standards over the next two years. Your constituent is welcome to submit her comments on this difficult issue. Each agency will seek public comment through a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" published in the Federal Register. For information on when that may occur, Ms. xxxxxx may contact the Civil Rights Division later in the year by calling our ADA
Information Line, 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD). The Board can be reached at the following address and phone number:
Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111
I hope this information will assist you in responding to your constituent. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters. As requested, we are returning your constituent's correspondence.
Bill Lann Lee
Civil Rights Division