Design for the disabled people



Narrow doorways.

Doors hinged on the wrong side, thus hindering accessibility.

Doorways with high thresholds.

Heavy and hard-to-operate door leaves.

                      Fig. 1


To facilitate the passage of a wheelchair user through doors.


3.1 General

*Accessible doors should be so designed as to permit operation by one person in a single motion with little effort.

*Power-operated doors are the best for people with disabilities. The activator system should be automatic or placed within easy reach.

*An accessible door should have the following features: a sign, a door handle, an extra pull handle, glazing and a kick plate.

                                            Fig. 2

3.2 Door types (a) Automatic doors: – Can be of the sliding or swinging type. In general sliding doors are preferable to swinging doors (fig. 1) (fig. 2).

– Automatic doors are useful when traffic is heavy.

– Automatic doors should have an adequate opening interval. -Guard-rails can be installed near double-swinging doors to indicate a door-opening area and to prevent people from being hit by the door.

                             Fig. 3

(b) Revolving doors: – Revolving doors are not suitable for the use of disabled people or people with prams.

– Wherever there are revolving doors, an adjacent accessible swinging or sliding door should be provided (fig. 3).

– Auxiliary gates should be provided next turnstiles (fig. 3).

(c) Pivoted doors: – Pivoted doors should swing away from the direction of travel wherever possible.

– Pivoted doors in series are considered as vestibules

                         Fig. 4

(d) Sliding and folding doors: – Manual sliding and folding doors are recommended for narrow spaces not heavily used by the public (fig. 4).

                Fig. 5

3.3 Door opening

*For exterior doors, the minimum opening is 0.90 m when the door is open.

*For interior doors, the minimum opening is 0.80 m when the door is open.

*The minimum door opening can be 0.75 m if the access is straight or if the door can stay open by itself (fig. 5).

*The minimum door width of rest rooms should be 0.75 m.

*For doors installed in an opening more than 0.60 m in depth, the clear door opening should be at least 0.90 m (fig. 6).

*For double-leaf doors, at least one leaf should have a minimum clear width of 0.80 m (fig. 7).

                Fig. 6

3.4 Manual door hardware

*Operational devices on doors, such as handles, pulls, latches and locks, should be easy to grasp with one hand (fig. 8).

(a) Handles: – Lever-type handles, push plates or pull handles are recommended for swinging doors because they are easy to open. (1)

– Round knobs are not recommended.

– Door handles should be located at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.00 m from the floor surface.

(b) Locks: Locks on entrance doors should be mounted at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.00 m from the floor.

(c) Extra pull handle: To facilitate closing, a door fitted with spring closers should be equipped with an extra pull handle approximately 0.30 m in length, located between 0.20 m and 0.30 m from the hinged side of the door and mounted between 0.90 m and 1.20 m from the floor.

                       Fig. 7

3.5 Automatic doors hardware

*Automatic doors can be activated by:

(a) Push buttons located at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.20 m; (b) Activating mats, which can also serve as a location cue (fig. 2);

(c) Card-insert switch;

(d) Remote control.

                                    Fig. 8

3.6 Threshold (fig. 8)

*Thresholds should be omitted wherever possible. Weather-stripping at the door bottom is preferred to thresholds.

*The threshold should not be more than 20 mm higher than the finished floor level.

*Thresholds higher than 6 mm should be beveled or have sloped edges to facilitate the passage of a wheelchair.

3.7 Exit doors landing

*The exit landing should not be lower than the finished floor level by more than 20 mm.

3.8 Glazing and glazed doors

*Outward swinging doors and doors in public corridors should have low windows to enable users to see oncoming traffic. The bottom edge of the window should not be higher than 1.00 m from the finished floor level (fig. 8).

*Completely glazed doors should be avoided in buildings frequented by people with visual impairments.

*Glazed doors should be clearly marked with a coloured band or mark placed for the benefit of all users at a height between 1.40 m and 1.60 m (fig. 2).

3.9 Kick plates

*Kick plates are useful in protecting the finish on the lower part of the door. Kick plates should be between 0.30 m and 0.40 m in height (fig. 8).

3.10 Signage

*In public buildings, the function or room number, incorporating international symbols should be identified at eye level, i.e. between 1.40 m and 1.60 m (fig. 8).

*Room numbers should be placed on door frames and not on doors themselves so that the room number is visible even when the door is open.

3.11 Colour

*The door or the door frame can be painted in a colour that contrasts with the adjoining wall to facilitate its identification by people with visual impairments.


*It is recommended that automatic doors replace heavy, hard-to-open swinging doors.

*Door openings narrower than 0.75 m should be widened. A swing-clear hinged door may be used to slightly enlarge an opening.



Steep staircases.

Poorly designed steps that hinder foot movement.


To provide safe and well-dimensioned staircases for the comfort of all people, especially those with mobility problems.

                                 Fig. 1


3.1 General

*Differences in level should be illuminated or minimized as much as possible for the comfort of disabled people.

*A complementary ramped route, elevator or lift should be provided where there are steps in an otherwise accessible path.

*All steps should be uniform.

*Circular stairs and stepped landings should be avoided (fig. 1).

*Open risers are not recommended.

                               Fig. 2

3.2 Width

*The minimum width of a stairway should be 0.90 m for one-way traffic and 1.50 m for two-way traffic.

*For indoor stairs, the riser should be between 0.12 m and 0.18 m, and the tread between 0.28 m and 0.35 m.

*For outdoor stairs, the maximum riser should be 0.15 m and the minimum tread should be 0.30 m.

3.3 Landing (fig. 2) (fig. 3)

*An intermediate landing should be provided when the stairs cover a difference in level of more than 2.50 m.

*The length of the landing should be at least 1.20 m extending along the full width of the stairs.

                               Fig. 3

3.4 Nosing (fig. 4)

*Sharp edges and overhanging nosing should not be used for treads.

*Nosing should be flush or rounded and should not project more than 40 mm.

         Fig. 4:  Recommended nosing types

3.5 Handrails

*Handrails must be installed on both sides of the stairs and around the landing for gripping (fig. 3).

*For stairs more than 3.00 m wide, one or more intermediate handrails could be provided (fig. 5).

*The distance between the handrails when both sides are used for gripping should be between 0.90 m and 1.40 m (fig. 5).

*Handrails must extend a distance between 0.30 m and 0.45 m at the top and bottom of the stairs (see Railings and Handrails) (fig. 3).

               Fig. 5

3.6 Tactile marking (fig. 2) (fig. 3)

*A textural marking strip should be placed at the top and bottom of the stairs and at intermediate landings to alert sightless people as to the location of the stairs.

*The tactile marking strip should be at least 0.60 m wide and should extend over the full width of the stairs.

*To guide users with poor vision, the colour of the strip should contrast with the surrounding surface. 3.7 Surface

*Landings, treads and nosing should be slip-resistant and free of projections.

*Exterior stairs should be pitched forward at 10 mm per metre to drain surface water.

*Slip-resistant stair nosing should be used to fix carpets on stairs.

                             Fig. 6

3.8 Emergency stairs

*Emergency stairs should be identified by tactile markings.

3.9 Mechanical stairs (escalators)

*Mechanical stairs can be provided with an adaptable tread at least 1.20 m long, if they are to be used by persons confined to wheelchairs (fig. 6).

*The edges of escalators should be painted in a contrasting colour for the benefit of poor- sighted users.

                            Fig. 7


*When the configuration of the nosing cannot be modified, slip-resistant strip scould be applied to the nosing as an alternative solution (fig. 7).

*Slip-resistant strips should be 40 mm wide and should not extent more than 1 mm above the tread surface.

*To guide people with sight problems, the colour of the strips should contrast with that of the stairs.



John Alex Author

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