The Universal Elevator Key

I was talking to our city’s recreation director, and the issue of elevator keys came up (in order to use the elevator at one of the city pools, you have to get a staff member to operate it, using a key). She said that when the elevator was installed, the staff asked whether it wouldn’t be inconvenient for patrons to have to get the key, and the installer told them that the keys were universal, and most wheelchair users have their own.

Why do I miss out on all the good stuff? Ok, wheelchair people (in the US): do you have an elevator key? Was it handed out to you with your nifty Quickie wheelchair and your parking permit? Was there a secret handshake, too?



  1. wheelchairdancer

    I *had* one — it got misplaced somewhere. I didn’t know they existed, but I was chatting with a friend who got one because she was dating a city ADA coordinator. She gave me hers and asked the ADA coordinator for another copy. It all seemed very cloak and dagger; lose this and your life is on the line kind of stuff.

    Since it wasn’t actually my city or my key, I don’t actually know how you get a key. And I haven’t dared ask my friend for another… if you figure out how to get one legitimately, please post again. :-)

    It was great for some lifts, but there was one plaform lift in NYC that just wouldn’t take my key. Also, some shop owners in NYC would get shirty if I strolled up and casually started using the lift by myself. Security guards at big dept stores weren’t very nice about it, either.


  2. Katja (Post author)

    My husband (who didn’t get the whole cloak and dagger-ness of it all) suggested that I just ask the pool if I could copy their key.

    I’m inclined to see if I can find this installer and ask him what the secret handshake is.

  3. Kimberley

    I’m from Canada, but your entry seemed so familiar! I live in a condo and there are elevators to get to to the pool level here. I’ve tried to get a key for almost two years now.

    I’m the only person in the building who uses the lift and every time I do I have to do down to the concierge desk in the lobby and try to get a key from them. Some have even tried to charge me a deposit!

    There was talks of leaving the key int he lifts so people who needed to use them could, but they said it was a “safety issue” and wouldn’t. I think it’s a lot more unsafe to slide down the steep tiled stairs on your butt, and drag yourself back up them, but they didn’t seem to see things the same way!

    They also wont allow me to have the key long enough to get a copy made, even though I told them all of the keys they have fit every lift.

    1. Jeff

      In Canada we have conflicting legislations. The CSA code B355 (safety code for accessibility and ambulatory lifting devices) states that a disability accesible lift that has manually operated doors (swing out) and constant-pressure directional buttons, must be the responsibility, and be operated by a building staff or representative and be locked out by means of a key. It does not say why.

      However, the Ontario building code, with respect to accessibility for disabled persons, states that all public spaces must be accessible to all persons, of all levels of mobility, to move about freely and access all floors WITHOUT THE HELP OF OTHERS.
      Hence the conflict with CSA.
      I am told that CSA is currently in process of re-vamping their code, including the section regarding lift keys and access.


  4. Katja

    Right, the safety excuse, right up there with “children might play with it and break it.”

    Try saying something like “There are hundreds of the thousands of unlocked elevators and lifts in cities and towns all over this country, and people use them safely every day.”

    The equal access argument is more aggressive (and generally more confrontational): “Do able-bodied people have to come down to the concierge desk in order to get to the pool level? Then I shouldn’t have to, either.”

  5. Diane J Standiford

    Seattle here—news to me. Lived in a condo w/pool…no key required. I’d be over them like white on snow.

  6. Kevin Mills

    If you don’t have a key where do you get one? I lost the tv remote so went to my favorite big box store and picked up an universal remote but I don’t think this is quite the same.

  7. Steph

    I am disabled and need a universal ADA lift key. In Seattle area. Anyone know where to get paperwork for a Key? Thanks!

  8. Katja (Post author)

    Hi, Steph, thanks for commenting. I’m not aware that there is any such thing, but you could try hunting up a Seattle area provider of stair and platform lifts and asking if they know if there is such a thing, and if so, where you can get one. Good luck!

  9. Rae

    I know this is an old post, but here are two sources I’ve found!–Compx-H2252-key-Also-known-as-2252-key–handicap-and-inclinator-key_p_876.html

    (And of course that installer lied and the common person doesn’t have access to these! If the vendor asks, lie and say you’re a building manager or a manager at a retail store so you don’t get grief.)

    1. Katja (Post author)

      Very cool, Rae, thank you! It never occurred to me that these keys might be available for sale.


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