And What's Wrong With Levers?


Here’s something from my e-mail box that I just have to file under “I don’t understand.”

I got an e-mail from a writer who wanted to work for me last week. For the most part, the inquiry was pretty standard, as she stated that she was a writer, liked to travel and understood access needs. Then it got strange. She described herself as somebody who uses a wheelchair for distance and then wrote, “I find levered door handles, a so-called element of universal design, much more difficult to operate than knobs.”


That one really left me scratching my head, but to be honest I didn’t want to have an extended conversation with her about it (or about anything for that matter). So I thought about it for the rest of the afternoon, and in the end I could not imagine one single situation where a door knob would be *more* accessible than a lever handle.

If you have a clenched fist, a lever is easier. If you have a stump a lever is easier. Even if you have full use of your hands a lever is easier. People who have arthritis consider lever handles a blessing, and if ABs have their hands full they can use their elbow or butt to open a lever-handled door. Wheelchair-users who have a full lap and only one free hand, can do the same with a cane.

I also ran the question past several colleagues — many of who specialize in universal design. They were equally dumbfounded.

In the end we were all left scratching our collective heads. In the absence of “eye gaze door openers”, lever handles are the most accessible option.

Still, I cannot understand the comment.