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Guide to the ADA Standards

Operation [§309.4]

Operable parts must be usable with one hand and not require:

  • tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist, or

  • more than 5 pounds of force (lbf) to operate.

Parts that can be operated without hand or finger dexterity, fine motor movement, or simultaneous actions provide easier access and accommodate a broader range of users.

Hand (closed fist) pushing down on lever door hardware

Operability with a closed fist is a reliable test of usability, but is not required by the standards.

Push Plates, Buttons, and Bars

operable parts icon

Push-activated controls not requiring more than 5 lbf are acceptable. Buttons that are raised or flush are easier to use than those that are recessed. (Elevator control buttons cannot be recessed, and input keys at ATM and fare machines must be raised.)

Handles, Pulls, and Knobs

door handle

Standard U-shaped pulls and lever-shaped handles are acceptable. Stationary knobs with a shape that can be loosely gripped also are acceptable. Knobs that require a full hand grip and turning, including round door knobs and shower controls, do not comply because they require twisting of the wrist.

Latches and Locks


Latches and locks with small parts that must be manipulated can be difficult to use and will not comply if pinching is necessary. However, non-fixed portions of locks and other operable parts, such as keys and access cards, are not required to comply (but those that do not require pinching or turning provide better access). Hardware that does not require simultaneous actions are better, but some types, such as handles with thumb latches are acceptable.

Controls and Switches

light switch

Dials and other controls that can be turned with the fingers but not the full hand can be used if they do not require twisting of the wrist or pinching. Flip switches and similar controls are acceptable, though push plate types can provide easier access.


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