Tips to Create Accessible Entrances or Approaches in Public Facilities

Published June 9, 2021

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that public accommodations should be equally accessible to persons with disability. One of the first issues to consider during the design and construction of public facilities is that the entrance or approach to the building should be accessible. Here are some useful tips that can help achieve this goal.

Route of travel

In any public building, a person with disability should be in a position to reach the site, approach the facility, and enter it as safely and comfortably as anyone else. The building should have at least one route of travel that is accessible for all, including persons with disability. Notable tips include:

  • If the route of travel involves the use of stairs, add a ramp or create an alternative travel route on the ground.
  • To ensure that the route of travel is slip-resistant and stable, consider replacing gravel with solid top, fill any minor breaks and bumps with beveled patches, and repair any uneven paving.
  • To widen the route of travel to 36 inches or more, consider moving or changing landscaping, furniture, or other elements that are causing interruption.
  • Remove or shift the position of any protruding objects that may not be detected by a person who is blind or has a visual disability.


The ADA has provided clear specifications with regard to the design and construction of ramps in public buildings. Here are a few possible solutions to correct any deviations from these guidelines:

  • If the slope of the ramp is steeper than the mandated 1:12 ratio, consider options such as increasing the length of the ramp to reduce the slope. If adequate space is not available for lengthening the ramp, consider a reconfiguration to include switchbacks.
  • If the ramp is longer than six feet, add railings on both sides if these are missing. Make sure the railings are firm and stable with a height of 34 to 38 inches.
  • For ramps that have become slippery with use, consider adding non-slip material to the surface.
  • Remodel the ramp if its height is above 30 inches.


In public accommodations, special attention should be given to the main entrance design and construction to make it freely accessible to all. Where it is impossible to make it accessible because of stairs, a lift or ramp or a proper alternate accessible entrance should be provided for. Here are a few tips for accessibility:

  • Every inaccessible entrance should have a clear sign directing people with disability to the nearest alternate accessible entrance. The signs should be installed at correct locations to ensure no one has to retrace the approach.
  • Keep a goal to enable independent operation of the alternate accessible entrance as far as possible. Minimize the need for assistance to operate a lift, answer a doorbell, or set up a temporary ramp.
  • Make sure that the entrance door is at least 32 inches wide (in a double door, you can keep at least one leaf 32 inches clear). Install swing-clear (offset) door hinges.
  • Keep clear wall space of 18 inches or more on the door’s pull-side. People using crutches or wheelchair would require this space to safely open the door. To clear space, you may relocate or remove partitions, furnishings, or other obstructions. Also, consider adding an automated or power-controlled door opener.

These simple yet practical solutions can make a big difference to making the entrance and approach to public facilities safe and accessible for everyone.


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