ADA Compliance Three Decades Later

American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers helps organizations comply

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been the law of the land for more than three decades, but compliance is still lacking in many states. It’s been a long road for physical accessibility advocates – one that began more than 50 years ago with the Architectural Barriers Act. That 1968 law made removal of physical barriers mandatory in federal buildings. The ADA followed in 1990, expanding reasonable accommodations to all public buildings.

The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM) is a longtime advocate for safe and easy access to buildings and was pivotal in championing changes to the International Building Code (IBC) addressing accessibility issues. The IBC update for 2021 included a provision long sought by accessibility advocates: the mandated inclusion of automatic doors for entrances to public buildings. IBC 1105.1.1 indicates that, in facilities meeting stipulated building occupant load thresholds, public entrances that are required to be accessible shall have one door be either a full power-operated door or a low-energy power-operated door.

In recent years, the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights has stepped up ADA enforcement in an effort to increase compliance with current standards. Recognizing that physical barriers still exist, states are developing legislative solutions to address ADA compliance. Many states have also proposed or already instituted grant programs to offer financial assistance to help remove physical barriers to building access. Many of these grants are aimed at public and private educational institutions, but others are available. Architects and building owners are advised to check what’s offered in their own states.

Physical access for all people to all facilities – for voting, shopping, dining out, accessing essential services, and more – is vital to the independent living of people with disabilities. Automatic doors are key components in bringing this sense of agency and freedom to people with physical and mobility challenges.

People with disabilities and their advocates are presenting compelling testimony in state legislatures that offer firsthand accounts of challenges they face in gaining physical access to facilities. AAADM stands with these advocates and supports their mission to ensure safe and easy access to public facilities, from retail stores to restaurants to state buildings and beyond.

For more information about AAADM, visit

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