DDA, Part M & The Equality Act

This article gives a brief explanation of the changes in recent years regarding legislation concerning disabled access, and focuses on the requirements of the Building Regulations (Part M) relating to doors. In particular, it looks at Clear Opening Widths; Threshold Heights; Visibility Requirements & Self Closing Devices.


The Equality Act (EA) 2010 incorporated (and repealed) the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). (The EA therefore renders the term ‘DDA compliant’ obsolete.) The EA carries forward the protection provided for disabled people by the DDA, but its application is considerably wider. It covers services in the commercial, retail, financial, residential, education, healthcare and transport sectors.

As the EA relates to access to services rather than to premises, buildings and products cannot be ‘EA compliant’. Instead they must comply with either Part M of the Building Regulations (Access to and use of buildings) or the recognised technical standard BS 8300: (Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people: Code of Practice). However, it is incorrect to assume compliance with Part M alone will meet the requirements of the EA. Also, it should be noted that the requirements of Part M and BS 8300 are ‘minimum standards’. Part M is sometimes referred to as ADM (Approved Document M).

Part M or ADM – Main Requirements for Doors

The most frequently asked questions that we receive regarding doors and Part M concern:

Minimum Effective Clear Opening Widths (ECW)
Direction & width of approach New Buildings (mm) Existing Buildings (mm)
Straight-on (without a turn) 800 750
At right angles to an access route at least 1500mm wide 800 750
At right angles to an access route at least 1200mm wide 825 775
External doors to buildings used By the general public 1000 775

Note: The ECW is the width of the opening, measured at right angles to the wall in which the door is situated from the outside of the door stop on the closing side to any obstruction on the hinge side e.g projecting door furniture, the door or the door stop.

minimum effective clear opening widths for doors

Source : Approved Document M – Access to and Use of Buildings

Threshold heights

Generally a maximum height of 15mm.

Visibility requirements

People should be able to see other people on or approaching the other side of doors to avoid the risk of collision. (There may be circumstances where for reasons of privacy or security this may not be appropriate or possible).

The diagram below shows the minimum requirements to satisfy Part M.
(Please note that this diagram is now shown in Part K of the Building Regulations, not Part M. It is referenced in Part M)

visibility requirements for doors

Source : New Approved Document K – Protection from falling, collision and impact (2013 Edition)

Visual Contrasts – Light Reflective Values  (LRV)

Visual contrasts are required between ironmongery and door surfaces. Also, for doors likely to be kept open, a contrasting leading edge should be provided. Door frames and architraves should contrast with the adjacent wall colour.

Contrasts are measured by comparing the light reflective values (LRVs) of different materials and colours. Generally a LRV of a minimum of 30 points must apply to adjacent surfaces. (LRV is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 representing perfect absorbing black and 100 perfect reflecting white. In reality these perfect colours are not found – a bright white would typically have LRV of 85).

Self Closing Devices

Many doors are fitted with non-powered closers. This is particularly the case with fire doors. Part M requires that the opening force at the leading edge of the door is no greater than 20N. This can sometimes create a conflict between not exceeding the 20N requirement and ensuring that the door closes correctly that can only be resolved by installing a powered closing device.

To find out more download our eBookSpecifying doors to meet Approved Document M of the Building Regulations’