Let’s break down this question from one of our subscribers... According to Dictionary.com, a walk-in closet (n) is “a closet that is large enough to walk around in.” The number of walk-in closets may or may not impact what the code requires. By turning radius, we are referring to the circular space that lets a wheelchair make a half (180-degree) or full (360-degree) turn. A T-shaped turning space is also allowed if a 3-point turn can be made and meets measurement guidelines from the ADA. T-shaped turning space typically refers to the shape of space needed for electric scooters, which are rapidly rising in popularity over traditional wheelchairs.
The NYC Building Code and International Code Council requirements are not specific for walk-in closets and may be open to interpretation, however, if the walk-in closet is deeper than 48”, making it capable of a wheelchair to enter the closet, then it would require a turning radius, to avoid potential entrapment.
If the closet is less than 48” deep, it does not need a turning radius as the wheelchair cannot enter, and therefore cannot cause entrapment. It is ok for a wheelchair to back up to utilize the required 30” x 48” access space.
Your question did not specify the type of facility, so there may be alternatives that exempt a walk-in closet from being fully accessible.
Working with the code consultants at Outsource Consultants, Inc. would give you the best chances of making your space compliant, accessible, cost-effective, and overall attain the ADA’s mission of giving everyone the same opportunities.
You can reach out to Outsource Consultants, Inc. directly at 212-732-0555 or send Outsource an email to get started.
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