Pointers for Accessible Built Environment



  • A safe and comfortable environment which promotes independence to the elderly.
  • Design that seamlessly incorporates the necessary support devices and mechanism such as grab bars and handrails in an unobtrusive manner.
  • A design that addresses the characteristics of ageing that have the larger impact on an older adult’s relationship to their environment (balance & coordination, loss of strength, loss of vision or weak eyesight, hearing problems and cognitive impairments.


  • Level entry way or ramp with entry level landing for easy door opening. Continuous handrails both sides at the height of 700 mm and 900 mm.
  • The steps and stair: Edges marked in a contrasting color to make them easily visible.
  • Uniform risers and treads of 150 mm and 300 mm respectively.
  • No steps or abrupt level changes on main floor or in circulation path.
  • Wide doorways (900 mm min.)
  • Wide corridor (1500 mm preferable).
  • Door should not be too heavy to operate and should not require a force of more than 20 N to operate.
  • Audio and visual smoke detectors inside house.
    Natural ventilation and optimum illumination.
  • Windows that have reachable controls & provide a view of the outside for a person sitting on a wheelchair.
  • At least one large bathroom with a 900 mm clear door opening and clear 1500 x 1500 mm floor space.
  • Grab bar provisions at least in one bathroom/toilets.
    Non-slip flooring in the home especially in bathrooms.
  • A kitchen large enough for easy wheelchair mobility (U or L shaped or open plan preferred).
  • Shelves and racks at reachable height of 1200 mm (from floor finish) inside the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Lever handled faucets in bathroom/kitchen – Easy to operate from hand to compensate for weak hand functions.
  • Lowered height and tilted mirror provision inside the bathroom.
  • Commode height at 450 mm from floor finish with grab bars provision.


  • When placed for public use, accessible toilets should have the universally adopted symbol for wheelchair access displayed outside.
  • Western commode (wc) toilet compartments should have enough floor space for wheelchair users to enter and exit.
  • The WC should be preferably wall hung that allows easy approach & economy of space for use by wheelchair users.
  • The commode seat height should be around 450mm to allow easy transfer. Any accessory seat pad on the toilet seat should be firmly secured.
  • WC compartments should have support rails at a position and height suitable for wheelchair users and other persons with physical disabilities. Upward-folding support bars are recommended to allow lateral transfer from the wheelchair.
  • A toilet paper dispenser should be within easy reach to a person with reduced mobility sitting on the commode.
  • Fittings, such as soap dispenser, electric hand dryer and mirror, should be low enough for a wheelchair user to use comfortably.
  • Floor finishes should be of non-slip material.
  • Doors should be either of the sliding or outward-opening type so as not to reduce the activity space within the toilet compartment.
  • Kick plates on the toilet doors not only help protect the doors from wear and tear but also help users push open the door using their feet while maneuvering on the wheelchair.
  • Locks to toilet doors or cubicle should be a type that can be opened from outside in case of emergency. Lock lever should be of the type that can be easily opened by person with weak grip power.


  • The basin should be installed at a height and position that is convenient to access by wheelchair users.
  • The basin should have appropriate knee clearance and foot clearance space for wheelchair users.
  • Sufficient clear space for wheelchair users should be provided in front of the basin.
  • The mirror should be so installed as to permit its use by wheelchair users. Lever-type taps should be installed to wash basins.


  • Preferred gradient of ramp should be 1:15 and a gradient no steeper than 1:12 for wheelchair access
  • Width: The clear unobstructed width of ramp should be at least 1200mm between the handrails
  • Landings should be provided along the length of the ramp, at intervals of 5 meters
  • Surface of ramp should be even, firm and anti-skid in nature
  • Handrails: The ramp should have continuous handrails at two levels for providing support. Handrails should be free of any sharp or abrasive materials and have good gripping surface
  • Circular ramps should be avoided
  • Tactile warning tiles should be laid 400mm before and after the ramp incline to orient persons with visual impairments


  • Every theatre must make some kind of accommodations such as seating chair with detachable arm rests and adequate leg space
  • Priority should be given for accommodating wheelchair inside the theater hall to avoid inconvenience to persons using wheelchair
  • No loose carpet should be laid on the surface as it can be a tripping hazard
  • Theater halls are required to maintain a certain percentage of seats that are accessible for people with disabilities, and those seats are supposed to be reserved for such people and their companions unless the venue sells out
  • Provision of minimum technological support such as induction loop, platform lift and portable ramp to assist persons with disability should be available
  • Obstruction at entrance should be removed by providing kerb ramps or portable wooden ramps
  • At least one section of washroom should be made accessible by incorporating accessibility features
  • Clear signage and display of evacuation routes at entrance must be installed
  • Theater staff should be sensitized about accessibility issues and how to provide good services to persons with limited mobility


  • All library areas, including checking areas, book stacks and reading/teaching spaces, should be accessible to ageing staff and persons with varying disabilities.
  • Book stack areas should have aisles preferably 1500mm wide, or a minimum of 900mm wide, to allow easy access and maneuverability by persons using mobility aids.
  • Lighting should have appropriate illumination that is comfortable for persons with low vision and for the ageing staff. Lighting fixtures should be mounted at the height of reaching range (approx. 900mm) from floor finish.
  • Study tables should be designed to accommodate persons using wheelchair and mobility aids, with clear knee space of at least 700mm high and unobstructed underneath knee space.
  • Distracting noise should not be inside the library. Acoustic quality in library should limit extraneous background noise so that persons with limited hearing abilities can comprehend with ease.


  • All displays or exhibits whether in permanent or temporary locations, should be capable of being accessed, enjoyed and understood by persons with varying disabilities
  • Exhibition and display spaces in Museum should be fully accessible to persons using mobility aids. Aisle spaces between exhibits or study areas should be at least 900mm.
  • Exhibits should be mounted so that a person using a wheelchair can look at the exhibit easily from a seated position. Where displays are displayed in horizontal or inclined cases, they should be mounted in the height range of 900mm.
  • For persons with low vision and limitations, tactile exhibits should be available. Information should be printed in large print text, Braille, or provided on an audiotape.
  • Lighting in exhibit and display areas should be capable of being enhanced in key locations for specific exhibition stalls for persons who have visual limitations.
  • Lighting at display cases should be designed to minimize reflected glare.

Capacity Building

While the access audit recommends ways of making a building or service more accessible, there may be areas where structural design may not allow much change. Even in case of an emergency, the staff needs to assist customers/us

Accessibility& Audit

The access audit identifies barriers that may exist in the present infrastructure and make recommendations to overcome them. All the good features that exist are also highlighted in the audit. During the audit the team members go around all

Access Consultancy

Svayam also provides consultancy services to help organisations incorporate accessibility at design stage itself and also while the project is executed to ensure that the end product is compliant to the accessibility