Residents looking to construct new homes in Vancouver, Canada, will soon need to comply with a building code regulation set to go into effect on March 14. The doorknob, the key to opening and closing doors, is being phased out, with a new rule stating that all portals and faucets in future buildings must have lever handles.
While businesses and houses that have already been constructed won’t be forced to change current knobs, all new construction must include levers.
This will mean that, over time, the doorknob could become a thing of the past, The Vancouver Sun reported.
The change might seem curious at first glance, but Tim Stanton, professor and director of the University of British Columbia, said that Vancouver’s interest in regulating doorknobs likely comes from something called “universal design.”
This is the concept that society should be as open and accessible to as many people as possible.
So, when it comes to doorknobs — which could be difficult for some people who have disabilities to operate — putting this theory into practice would mean coming up with something like a lever that is more usable to a greater portion of society.
Stainton told the Sun that there are other examples of universal design already in practice, including fire alarms that include flashing lights for the hearing impaired and cut curbs that help moms with strollers and the elderly easily get on and off of sidewalks.
“Basically, the idea is that you try to make environments that are as universally usable by any part of the population. The old model was adaptation, or adapted design,” he told the Sun. “You took a space and you adapted for use of the person with a disability. What universal design says is let’s turn it around and let’s just build everything so it is as usable by the largest segments of the population as possible.”
Some are questioning the merits of the rule change, though, particularly when it comes to private homes.
Allen Joslyn, president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America, a nonprofit devoted to studying and preserving ornamental doorknobs, wonders if Vancouver went too far in implementing its newfound ban.
“I can understand if you have a public building where everybody wants to have free access and that is a problem,” he told the Sun. “But to say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach.”