Despite the first automatic sliding doors being invented in 1954 by Lew Hewitt and Dee Horton; with the first one installed six years later in 1960, it is clearly evident that many buildings aren’t using them.
The idea of automatic doors came about in the mid-1950s, when the inventors saw manual swing doors were difficult to use in the strong winds of Corpus Christi, Texas. For years people have relied on automatic doors for more than just easy operation and it is still an oddity to think that businesses aren’t using them.
Here’s why they should be!
The Disability and Discrimination Act Part 3, Provision of Services, became law on the 1st October 2004. From this date, the requirements for service providers to make "Reasonable adjustments" to their buildings to ensure disabled people can access services was changed.
This essentially means that disabled people should be able once inside buildings, to move around freely once inside and exit in a safe way. This covers a range of requirements and could mean wider doorways, auto door operators, audio information, adequate way finding and level access or lift access.
Anybody who provides a service needs to ensure that the disabled can enter and exit easily. And the best way to do this is via automatic doors
THEY HELP THE DISABLED
In relation to the last point, automatic doors help the disabled to attain independence and freedom. Wheelchair users now no longer need to rely on others to assist them to enter and exit buildings, giving them access to what able bodied people have available. To expect the disabled community (which is approximately 6.9 million of us) to have to ask people to open doors for them, or even not go out at all because of feeling discriminated against, lacks humanity and needs to change.
THEY HELP THE ELDERLY
As well as the disabled, elderly people also require assistance when visiting establishments outside of their home.
With only 17% of older people in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al, 2003), meaning a huge population of older people are lonely.
For many, their main source of communication and keeping in touch with others who live alone is by leaving the house and going to community centres as well as cafes and doing the shopping.
However, if there is a lack of automatic doors on these properties, it can make life harder for the elderly who require additional support or who use shopping trollies to make their lives easier.
THEY HELP THE GENERAL PUBLIC
Automatic doors are a big help to those with push chairs, those with children and anyone who may have their hands full.
It is customer service from the word go as soon as someone gets to a place of business, so it should be easy to access.
In busy areas, it is always beneficial to have automatic doors.
Places such as music venues, theatres, cinemas, educational facilities, leisure centres, shopping centres etc. are more likely to increase their customer traffic if there is a steady flow of people coming in and out of the building. No one likes a crowd after all!
Automatic doors often reduce energy waste and can significantly lessen heating costs. As they only open when needed. This eliminates the incidence of doors being left open accidentally or not shutting completely, which allows heat and air conditioning to escape.
Sliding automatic doors are a great way to save space. No longer do businesses need to accommodate for swing doors. They are the best way forward to maximise space in small areas, while also adding convenience for pedestrians.
Studies have shown that those businesses with automatic doors are perceived by consumers to have a higher quality of service. Automatic doors also make premises look more modern and efficient.
Ensure when you have automatic doors installed, that the installation is carried out by an ADIA member with a BS EN16005, City & Guilds Accreditation (CSCS).
Author: Laura Saxby | Membership and Marketing Manager
The Automatic Door Installation Association
26 York Street,
London W1U 6PZ
020 7788 7676
Sources: Technovelgy, Alpro, Buildings.com.
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