Open doorway with automatic door opener button on the wall shows a hallway

Automatic doors installed in Undergraduate Teaching Lab

Categories: Faculty, Students

State-of-the-art Chemistry lab is now fully equipped with essentials for disability access.

Students with disabilities no longer have to wait in the hallway for someone else to open the doors to the Department of Chemistry’s Undergraduate Teaching Lab (UGTL). Thanks to a joint effort between John Dolhun, Director of the UGTL, and the office of Disability and Access Services, the UGTL now has fully functional automatic doors ensuring disability access.

Designed and built to be fully compliant with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, the state-of-the-art lab opened in 2018 with fully accessible hoods, moveable lower glass cabinets, and sinks capable of accommodating students with disabilities. However, outside specifications for the width, hardware, thresholds and maneuvering spaces of doors, automatic doors are not required by the ADA.

“I just could not understand that in this new lab we were not required to put in at least one automatic door, so I kept this as one of my priorities,” said Dolhun. Despite delays from a laundry list of issues that required solving through 2019, and the pandemic that closed the lab in early Spring of 2020, Dolhun was determined to ensure that disabled students would have independence of access to the UGTL.

“It is so exciting and gratifying to see folks all across campus advancing disability access and creating a welcoming environment for all of our community members,” said Kathleen Monagle, Associate Dean for Disability and Access Services, who facilitated the request with Vasso Mathes from the Office of Campus Planning.

The project took six weeks from approval to become operational. Although seemingly a minor addition, the installation involved carpentry, electrical, physical security, signage relocation, and painting.

“Accessibility has been on my watch list since the space was built in early 2018. This installation is a big achievement. Now the lab can say, we have the essential basics for our disabled students. The lab cannot be grateful enough to have people like Vasso and Kathleen that worked so hard to put this together,” said Dolhun.

As of today, installation is complete, and the doors work seamlessly.

Read more about MIT Policies on Access and Accommodations for Employees and Students with Disabilities here.

We recognize that the language of disability is constantly evolving and can be a personal matter of preference. This article was written with both person-first and disability-first language. If you are in need of assistance for an accessible campus experience, please contact