When students think about the obstacles they must overcome to get into a school, most probably are thinking in terms of SATs, ACTs or other entrance exams. But for students with disabilities, the obstacles they face often are literal ones: manual doors. Accommodating those with disabilities or physical limitations is one reason for schools to consider installing automatic doors, but it is not the only one.
Automatic doors can modernize the aesthetics of a building and create a positive first impression. When properly installed, automatic doors are safe and easy to maintain. But before deciding if an automatic door is the right choice for a school facility, administrators should get a basic education in automatic door selection, safety and maintenance.
Automatic doors come in many types:
- Automatic sliding doors
These allow effective two-way traffic through a single door. These doors should be equipped with an emergency swing feature to ensure code compliance. Automatic sliding doors require an adequate amount of room in which the door can slide.
- Automatic swinging doors
For two-way traffic, typically two doors are required: one swinging inward and one swinging outward. The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM) cautions that two-way traffic through a single automatic swinging door normally is not recommended. A minimum of 11 feet of space between the two doors is suggested to give some separation and to eliminate sensor interference between the two doors.
- Automatic folding doors
A bi-folding door requires minimal space to install, yet provides plenty of clear door space, making this type of door a preferred choice when space is at a premium. These doors should have an emergency swing feature if the door is being used as an egress location.
- Low-energy swinging doors
Automatic, low-energy swinging door operators are designed for applications requiring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This type of operator usually is activated with push plates. Able-bodied individuals can use the entrance as a manual door, and people with disabilities can use the automatic option. The unit includes the header, operator and drive arm. Most manual doors can be retrofitted with a low-energy operator.
- Revolving doors
Automatic revolving doors are manufactured as complete packages. In general, they are offered in four-wing, three-wing and two-wing designs. Larger-diameter four-wing and three-wing doors also can offer center core displays. Two-wing doors typically have perimeter displays that serve as integral night shields when the door is closed and locked. Revolving doors can be center or perimeter driven — depending on size and design. As a rule, manual and smaller-diameter automatic doors have center-shaft drive systems. Larger-diameter automatic doors have perimeter-drive systems. Smaller-diameter doors typically are offered in a security version for controlled access.