Universal Design New York
4.1b Entering and Exiting

Photo of a man entering a subway car

Photo of lobby with semi-circular stairs flanked by a ramp on each side

Photo of the entrance to a three story building highlighted be bright red trusses


The rest of a building's features do not matter to the person who cannot get in or out. Therefore, it is imperative that the design of entry and exit conditions ensures their ready use by everyone.

Finding the Building

Before people can enter a building, they first must be able to find it. The use of external landmarks that distinguish the building from other nearby facilities can help people locate it.

Guidelines:

 
  Icon: Perceptible Information

Use distinctive exterior design features on or near the entrance of a building to make the building easy to distinguish from other nearby buildings.

 

 
Photo of an extra large canopy on the front corner of a building with a fountain in front
Figure 4.1b.1. The fountain and high canopy in front of the building clearly mark the entrance.
Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Perceptible Information

Such cues should involve more than one sense (e.g., employ visual, informational and tactile properties as detection devices) to provide the flexibility necessary to accommodate a range of individual preferences and abilities.

 

Identifying the Entrance or Exit

When faced with multiple doors or panels that imitate the appearance of doors at the entrance or exit of a building, a person should be able to tell the difference between the ones that are doorways and those that are not.

Guidelines:

 
  Icon: Simple and Intuitive

In North America, it is usually advisable to locate entrances to the right and exits to the left as the person approaches the building (and vice versa as the person leaves the building) to make them consistent with user expectations.

 

 
Photo of a building with an entrance made of mirrored glass. This blends into the adjacent side walls.
Figure 4.1b.2. This entrance is virtually impossible to distinguish from adjacent window panels.
  Icon: Perceptible Information

Provide perceptible multi-sensory cues (e.g., visual, informational and tactile design properties) to help the person tell the difference between entrance and exit doors.

 

Approaching the Entrance or Exit

After identifying the entrance or exit, the next task involves the approach - i.e., successfully negotiating the path of travel to the doorway.

Guidelines:

 
Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Tolerance for Error

A primary path of travel to the entrance or exit should be provided that is readily perceptible by anyone. It should be free of level changes and obstructions that could impede access or make access hazardous.

 

 
Photo of an entrance which has a sliding glass door, tactile pathway leading inside, and a talking sign.
Figure 4.1b.3. The automated sliding door at this entrance is easily detected by anyone because it provides multiple physical cues as well as a talking sign sensor mounted above the door.

 


 
Photo of a entrance walkway leading to a building that has a sitting area to its immediate right. The stairs are the same color and material as the walkway.
Figure 4.1b.4. This attempt to integrate side steps into a sloped approach to the building did not provide a detectable warning along the edge condition, thus creating a trip hazard for virtually everyone.
  Icon: Flexibility in Use

Multiple paths of travel to the entrance or exit may be needed where there are unavoidable grade changes and limited space, especially in adaptive reuse or historic preservation projects. Each path should be designed to be convenient and secure.

 

  Icon: Low Physical Effort

Where grade changes must occur along the primary path of travel leading to an entrance or exit, provide travel surfaces with minimal slopes (below ramp slopes) to ensure efficient and comfortable use by everyone and to minimize the need for handrails.

 

Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide redundant multi-sensory cues that can serve as indicators to alert people that they are getting close to the entrance or exit.

 

Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Provide areas adjacent (but out of the path of travel) to the entrance and exit that can permit people with a wide range of preferences and abilities to pause, rest, wait for others or simply congregate.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide protection from inclement weather as well as intense light and heat changes at the entrance and exit to allow the person's senses to adjust to the contrasting indoor and outdoor conditions.

 

Maneuvering through the Entrance or Exit

Designing entrance and exit conditions that permit anyone to get through the doorways is a challenge that is often underestimated.

Guidelines:

 
Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Low Physical Effort

Where possible, employ automated doors that accommodate people whose hands or arms are otherwise occupied (e.g., an adult holding a children or packages). The controls of automated doors should accommodate differing speeds and styles of movement through the doorway.

 

 
Photo of a pair of extra large revolving doors entering an airport
Figure 4.1b.5. This airport's revolving door is large enough to accommodate several users at once or individual users with luggage. It has a control button to enable users who travel at a slower pace to reduce its speed and slows down automatically if the door comes close to a person inside.

 
Photo of a pair of large loop handles on a door
Figure 4.1b.6. This entrance door has large loop handles that make the door easier for everyone to open.

 
A lever handle made of wrought iron with old fashioned detailing
Figure 4.1b.7. Using lever handles instead of traditional door knobs elmininates the need for the user to grasp and rotate the wrist.
Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

The entrance and exit doorways should provide open clearances sufficient to accommodate wider patterns of use (e.g., a person traveling with luggage) so that anyone can get through.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Flexibility in Use

Handles and latches on manual entrance and exit doors should allow operation with a closed fist or open hand. This will accommodate users whose hands are either full or who have other limitations.

 

  Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Latch side clearance should be provided at all swinging doors that open toward a person to provide space to move out of the way of the door's swing.

 

  Icon: Low Physical Effort

Entrance and exit doors should not require much force to operate so that people who have limited strength can open them.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error

Entrance/exit doors should not close rapidly or with much force to ensure the safety of people who travel at slower speeds or employ differing styles of movement (e.g., a person pushing a shopping cart).

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Entrance and exit doors that are access or departure control points in buildings should be designed to ensure through passage by anyone (e.g., a person pushing a stroller).

 

Icon: Simple and Intuitive
Icon: Low Physical Effort

Broad entrance and exit areas should have recommended paths of travel that are readily identifiable and easily negotiated by everyone regardless of ability.

 

Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

When entrance or exit doors are provided for use specifically for persons of differing abilities, they need to be detectable, identifiable and usable by everyone.

 

Icon: Equitable Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

When faced with a sequence of entry or exit doors (e.g., a vestibule condition), the doors need to be far enough apart and easily operable to enable anyone to proceed through them (e.g., a person escorted by a pet).

 

Departing the Entrance or Exit Area

Successfully entering or exiting a building includes a person's ability to move away after passing through the doorway.

Guidelines:

 
Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Primary paths of travel leading away from the entrance and exit should be provided that are readily perceptible by anyone and free of level changes and obstructions that could impede movement.

 

 
Photo of a building with a courtyard in front. A wall with built in seating on each side seperates the sidewalk from the large open space.
Figure 4.1b.8. This building has outdoor seating areas both at the curb and on either side of the processional to/from the entrance where users can wait, congregate or simply rest before entering the building or leaving the site.
  Icon: Flexibility in Use

Multiple paths of travel leading away from the entrance or exit may be needed when there are unavoidable grade changes or limited space, especially in adaptive re-use or historic preservation projects. Each path should be convenient and secure.

 

  Icon: Low Physical Effort

Where grade changes must occur along the primary path of travel away from an entrance or exit, provide travel surfaces with minimal slopes (below ramp slopes) to ensure efficient and comfortable use by everyone and minimize the need for handrails.

 

Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide redundant multi-sensory cues that can serve as indicators to alert people to potential hazards (e.g., pedestrian or vehicular traffic, grade changes) that they may encounter.

 

Icon: Perceptible Information
Icon: Tolerance for Error

Provide landmarks that can provide anyone with orientation and wayfinding cues as they move away from the entrance and exit.

 

Icon: Flexibility in Use
Icon: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Provide areas adjacent (but out of the path of travel) to the entrance and exit that can provide people with a wide range of preferences and abilities a place to congregate, wait for others or simply rest.

 

  Icon: Tolerance for Error
Provide protection from inclement weather as well as intense light and heat changes at the entrance and exit to allow the person's senses to adjust to the contrasting indoor and outdoor conditions.

The IDEA Center Logo. Click this link to go to the IDEA Center web site.
Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access
School of Architecture and Planning - University at Buffalo,
The State University of New York
Buffalo, NY 14214-3087
Tel 716/829-3485 ext 329 Fax 716/829-3861
TTY 800/628-2281