THE requirements for accessible entrances for persons with disabilities (PWDs) are found on "Inside Buildings and Structures" of Appendix A, "Minimum Requirements for Accessibility," under Rule II of Batas Pambansa (BP) 344.

"At least one entrance to every building should be accessible from arrival and departure points to the interior lobby."

The use of the term "accessible" here means full compliance with all applicable requirements of BP 344, starting from the reserved parking slot for vehicles of persons with disabilities, walkways, which include pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, ramps, and entrance doors. The late executive director of the National Council on Disability Affairs Geraldine Ruiz, who herself was a PWD who used a wheelchair, was quoted as saying:

"For persons with disabilities, partial compliance is no compliance at all. Ramps, steep ramps, without grab bars [handrails] is no compliance at all. Bathrooms, wide bathrooms with no grab bars is no compliance at all because anything that is interpreted wrongly will only make life much harder for us."

"One entrance level should be provided where elevators are accessible."

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This means that elevators shall be accessible at the same floor level as that of the accessible entrance.

"In case entrances are not on the same level of the site arrival grade, ramps should be provided as access to the entrance level."

Stepless entrances are preferred but because of our tropical climate and the extreme rainfall conditions we experience there are building sites that are susceptible to flooding and therefore the entrance levels must be raised and provided with ramps to make them accessible.

"Entrances with vestibules shall be provided a level area with at least a 1.80 meters (m) in depth and a 1.50 m in width."

PWDs who use wheelchairs need ample maneuvering space to open a door — especially an entrance door. They need enough space to allow them to turn and to move back as they open the door. The average turning radius of a regular wheelchair is 1.50x1.50 m.

With regards to accessible doors:

"All doors [doorways] shall have a minimum clear width of 0.80 m."

"Clear openings shall be measured between the surface of the fully open door at the hinge and the door jamb at the stop."

Doors or door sashes that are 0.80-m wide will not be able to provide a clear doorway opening width of 0.80 m because the thickness of the fully open door will reduce the actual door opening. Therefore, doors should be at least 0.85-m wide to provide a clear opening of 0.80 m.

"Doors should be operable by a pressure or force not more than 4.0 kilograms (kg); the closing device pressure [of] an interior door shall not exceed 1 kg."

A door pressure gauge can be used to check the operable pressure of doors. Door closers can be adjusted to comply with BP 344.

"A minimum clear level space of 1.50x1.50 m shall be provided before and extending beyond a door; EXCEPTION: where a door shall open onto but not into a corridor, the required clear, level space on the corridor side of the door may be a minimum of 1.20-m corridor width."

"Protection should be provided from doors that swing into corridors."

"Protection" from out swinging doors could be provided by plant boxes or signage that warns of an out swinging door.

"Out swinging doors should be provided at storage rooms, closets and accessible restroom stalls."

It is important for doors of accessible restroom stalls or toilet cubicles to swing outwards because it would be very difficult to close the toilet door after a person with disabilities who uses a wheelchair has entered the toilet stall or cubicle.

"Latching or non-latching, hardware should not require wrist action or fine finger manipulation."

PWDs in manual dexterity and fine motor skills, which may be congenital or caused by ailments, accidents, or age-related, can make detailed movements of the hand and wrist needed to manipulate, control and use objects such as cylindrical doorknobs or locksets difficult. Hence, lever type doorknobs should be used.

"Doorknobs or other hardware should be located between 0.82 m and 106 m. [1.06 m] above the floor; 0.90 m is preferred."

"Vertical pull handles, centered at 1.06 m above the floor, are preferred to horizontal pull bars for swing doors or doors with locking devices."

"Doors along major circulation routes should be provided with kick plates of durable material at a height of 0.30 m to 0.40 m.

Some PWDs who use wheelchairs may use the foot plate or foot rest of their wheelchair to push open doors. To protect doors from scratches, kickplates should be installed. These can be installed at the bottom of doors, about a foot high and of the same width as the door.

Arch. Armand Michael R. Eustaquio's commitment to accessibility spans almost three decades. He was a member of the UAP Task Force Infrastructure Accessibility that crafted the current implementing rules and regulations of BP 344 in 1993. He was deputy chairman of the UAP Committee on Accessibility under the Commission on Government and External Affairs from the year 2000 to 2010. He has served under the administration of seven past national presidents of the United Architects of the Philippines as chairman of the Accessibility Assessment Project, the Committee on Accessibility Audit and the Committee on Accessibility Audits for Private Buildings successively. To this day he is the first and the only Filipino member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals based in the US.