My wife is dependent on her wheelchair. If she goes shopping sometimes she comes along a push/pull door. Obviously, it can be quite a hassle to open the doors from your wheelchair AND get through them.

Most of the time there is someone close by, but that's not always the case.

Are there any lifehacks to open push/pull doors while in a wheelchair, unable to walk?

Main problem: the parking garage.

  • 3
    My condolences. Truly deplorable. Share the problem with the building management and a journalist at a local news outlet. Make sure that each one knows that copies were sent to the other.
    – Stan
    Jun 16, 2016 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


Be sure she carries a mobile phone. Then, if she can't get into a shop, she can call and ask the staff to assist with door opening.

Longer term, she may wish to let these shops know that she can't patronize them because they aren't accessible -- a word which has come to have a connotation of things like wheelchair ramps, automatic or manual powered doors, aisle wide enough for power scooters and chairs, etc.

The simplest, a plate-operated powered door, is a fairly inexpensive modification, as these things go, and many shops will be willing to install one in order to increase their accessibility for wheelchair or crutch users. In some locations, this is required by law, but be careful pushing for legal solutions; the cost can drive a small business to close its doors.

One method I've seen used in parking garages is to go in and out where the cars do. There's usually a pedestrian walkway that bypasses the gate bar, and in my experience it usually has wheelchair cuts as well. If she's had to park above ground level, almost all higher parking structures have elevators (required by law almost everywhere in the USA); she could take the elevator to ground level first.

  • The main problem are with parking garages. But good answer nonetheless.
    – Kevin
    Jun 16, 2016 at 12:52
  • 1
    Added a thought on parking structures.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 16, 2016 at 13:08

A cane could help in this situation and many others, as it's shape allow pushing using the bottom, and pulling using the top. You could add a door stop to the bottom, so she can use it to keep them from closing.

     /  __ \
     | |  \_\   <<----- use this end to pull door handles
     | |
     | |
     | |
     | |
     | |
     | |
 ____| |
/____|_|      <<----- Use this end to push doors
  door stop

I am sorry that so many places are still not so accessible!

You should anyways speak to the manager in this building to sort the access.

  • 1
    Without knowing the specifics of her upper body strength and range of motion, it will be a bit hard to give very precise advice. I would strongly suggest you consult a local occupational therapist for personalised advise.
    – RJ-
    Jun 23, 2016 at 13:41

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