Stair Lifts and ADA Compliance

What Your Business Needs to Know

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created in 1990 and updated in 2010 to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. This includes creating accommodations in commercial buildings for those with disabilities.

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However, there are specific ADA guidelines for elevators, but none for stair lifts, which are used primarily in private homes.


Stair lifts are governed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 18.1 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts, which presents guidelines for the design, construction, installation, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, and repair of inclined stairway chair lifts. It covers devices intended for transportation of a mobility-impaired person only, typically within household applications. Operation shall be under continuous control of the user or attendant. The device shall not penetrate more than one floor. A full passenger enclosure on the platform shall be prohibited.

While stair lifts aren’t governed by ADA requirements, elevators are. ADA guidelines for elevators require elevator buttons to be mounted at a height of 42 inches, be at least .75 inches in diameter, and be properly illuminated. There must be braille plates next to elevator buttons. There must be two-way communications in elevator cabs. The elevator cab must be large enough to hold a wheelchair. The elevator must contain door sensors and emergency controls that must be no more than 55 inches above the floor.

While all these ADA guidelines refer to elevators, they don’t apply to stair lifts, which feature rails mounted to the treads of stairs or wall behind the stair with a chair attached to the rail


If your building needs to meet ADA requirement codes, and you want to meet them without installing an elevator, you can use platform lifts in your building, but not stair lifts, which aren’t ADA compliant.

Section 4.11 of the ADA details the requirements for compliance when installing platform lifts in a commercial building. If platform lifts are used at an entrance, they must enable unassisted entry, operation, and exit from the lift in compliance with ADA guidelines. Platform lifts must also meet several other ADA requirements, including the ASME A17.1 safety code for elevators and escalators.

Please remember that commercial buildings must follow ADA regulations, and while stair lifts don’t meet ADA strictures, platform lifts do, so install them according to ADA regulations and follow ASME guidelines for stair lifts.

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