Universal Design in the Built environments

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Universal Design in the Built environments

Universal Design in the Built environments

A guide for Creating Accessible building infrastructure for Persons with disability

Parking and Approach to Building

There must be minimally one designated accessible parking space in every 25 parking spaces provided

  1. Provide adequate number of accessible parking spaces (1 in every 25 spaces)
  2. Each accessible parking bay should be minimally 3600mm x 5000mm in size
  3. Parking bays should be within 30 metres from main entrance door
  4. Use appropriate signage to indicate location of parking bays

More details about Parking and Approach to building


Main Entrance

  1. Entrance should be easy to locate and adequately signposted
  2. Consider installing automatic or semi-automatic doors
  3. Avoid thresholds; if unavoidable, they should be no higher than 6mm
  4. Doors should be easily identifiable and contrast visually with the surrounding wall
  5. Where glass doors are used, they should have colour strips or other markers
  6. The floor texture immediately next to the door should be different from the surrounding floor texture
  7. There should be a landing of at least 1800mm x 1800mm immediately next to the door.

More details about Main Entrance


  1. Corridors should be level and unobstructed.
  2. Minimum width of corridors should be 1500 mm with wheelchair turning spaces of 1800mm x 1800mm at regular intervals.
  3. There should not be any protruding objects up to a height of 2 metres from the floor surface.
  4. Steps, where unavoidable, should be accompanied by gently sloping ramped access.
  5. Consider installing a platform lift where providing a gentle ramp may not be possible.
  6. Incorporate adequate visual contrast between critical surfaces i.e. walls should contrast in colour and tone from the floor and ceiling.
  7. Provide a maintained illumination level of at least 100 lux
  8. Floor finish should be non slippery and non glary


  1. Elevators should connect all floors, including basement parking.
  2. There should be adequate directional signs to locate the elevator.
  3. The elevator should have a minimum internal space of 1200mm x 1400mm and the door should provide a clear opening width of 900mm.
  4. The controls and call buttons for the elevator should be contrasted in colour from the background,internally illuminated, incorporate raised lettering and Braille, and be installed between heights of 800mm and 1100mm from the floor surface.
  5. Horizontal hand rails should be installed on the sides and rear of the elevator at a height of 900mm from the floor surface.
  6. The elevator should have a voice announcement system along with a visual floor level display.
  7. The emergency communication system in the elevator should be linked to an induction loop system.
  8. Consider installing a mirror on the rear wall of the elevator.

Platform Lift Stairs

  1. Where provided, the platform lift should have a minimum size of 900mm x 1200mm.
  2. Platform lifts should incorporate security features such as handrails on both sides, edge protection and emergency stop buttons.


  1. Have colour contrasted nosing of 25mm at the edge of all treads.
  2. Avoid open risers.
  3. Circular handrails, that contrast in colour from the background wall, should be installed on both sides of the stairs, fixed with L-shaped brackets, at a height of 900mm from the furnished tread level.
  4. The handrails should be continuous on both sides, even on landings, and extend 300mm beyond the top and bottom of staircase.
  5. Tactile warning blocks should be installed at the beginning and end of each flight of stairs.
  6. The under stair area should be covered and demarked from the circulation area.
  7. Provide a maintenance illumination level of at least 150mm on the stair surface.

More about Corridors, Elevator, Platform lift and Stairs

Ramp & Handrails

  1. ƒƒRamps should ideally not be steeper than 1:15.
  2. Steps should always accompany a ramp and vice-versa.
  3. Circular handrails should be installed at a height of 900mm from the ramp surface on both sides of the ramp and fixed with L-shaped brackets.
  4. Ramps should at least be 1500mm wide, and have landings every 5 metres run and at the top and bottom of the ramp.
  5. Ramp surface should be slip resistant.
  6. Provide a maintenance illumination level of at least 150mm on the ramp surface.
  7. Tactile warning blocks should be installed at the beginning and end of the ramp.
  8. Have a circular section of 30-45mm in diametre;
  9. Be free of any sharp or abrasive elements;
  10. Have a minimum clear space of 40mm from the wall;
  11. Have continuous gripping surfaces, without interruptions or obstructions that can break a hand hold. It is preferrable to install L-shaped brackets for this purpose;
  12. Be continuous, on both the sides, even at the intermediate landings;
  13. Be provided on both sides of the ramp;
  14. Extend at least 300mm beyond the beginning and the end of the ramp. The ends of the handrail should return back to the railing or be grouted in the wall or floor so as to prevent any injury to the users;
  15. Be installed at a height of 900mm to 1000mm;
  16. Be finished so as to contrast in colour and luminance with the background against which it will be viewed;
  17. Be made of a material that will not get hot in direct sunlight, especially in outdoor installations.

More about Ramps and Handrails 

Accessiable Restaurant, Bar, Pub and Lounge

  1. All facilities should be located on floors that are connected by the elevator.
  2. ƒƒ The furniture should be removable, and contrast in colour from the floor and from the crockery used. There should be a provision of chairs with and without arm rests. The tables should have a knee recess of 750mm height.
  3. ƒƒ There should be lowered counters that are 760mm high at the bar.
  4. ƒƒ There should be a maintained illumination level of 50 lux to 200 lux and the lighting should not cause glare.
  5. ƒƒ Avoid thickly piled carpets and heavily patterned flooring or carpets.
  6. ƒƒ Flooring should be slip resistant.
  7. ƒƒ Menu cards should be available in large print and in Braille.
  8. ƒƒ Easy grip cutlery and glassware with built up handles should be available.
  9. ƒƒ Staff should offer to read out the menu and explain food layout on the plate to persons with vision impairments.
  10. ƒƒ Where there is a self-service or buffet style layout, staff should offer to serve persons with disabilities at their respective tables.
  11. ƒƒ At least one staff member in each shift should be able to communicate in basic sign language.

More about Accessiable Restaurant, Bar, Pub and Lounge

Accessibility Business Centre and Conference

  1. These should be located on the floors that are connected by an elevator and have accessible restrooms. There should be level or
  2. gently sloping access from the corridor.
  3. There should be provision of removable chairs that have a seat height of 450mm to 475mm. There should be availability of chairs with and without arm rests.
  4. The tables should have a clear knee space of 750mm height.
  5. All furniture should contrast from the floor.
  6. There should be a maintained illumination level of 300 lux to 500 lux.

More about Accessibility Business Centre and Conference

Pool Accessibility, Spa Accessibility and Health Club Accessibility

For a pool, less than 91 linear metres in length, at least one accessible means of entry should be provided (like a swimming pool lift or a sloped entry).
There must be a provision for accessible toilets, shower areas and dressing rooms in close proximity to the pool.

  1. The pool lift should be located where the water in the pool does not exceed 1200mm. The lift should be installed as per the specifications provided with the product.
  2. The height of the lift seat should be a minimum of 400mm to a maximum of 500mm measured from the deck to the top of the seat surface. The seat should be aminimum of 400mm wide.
  3. Foot rests should be provided and should move with the seat. Arm rest (where provided) on the transfer side of the lift should be removable or should fold clear ofthe seat when the seat is in the raised (load) position.
  4. The lift should be designed so that the seat will submerge not more than 450mm to a water depth below the stationary water level.

Key accessibility requirements for changing areas:

  1. Changing areas should be clearly signposted. Locate signs on wall adjacent to door edge to allow easy identification of the changing facilities;
  2. Sufficient space should be provided for manoeuvering wheelchairs – minimum clear turning diametre of 1800mm.
  3. Allowance to be made for a wheelchair user to change without obstructing other users;
  4. Direct access to be provided to the shower area from the changing room. Accessible toilet provision should be at very close proximity to the changing area.

Spa Accessibility

All treatment rooms should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchair users. Door width of all rooms should be at least 900mm.

  • All facilities should be located on floors that are connected by the elevator.
  • Some accessible restrooms, shower rooms and changing areas should be provided in these facilities.
  • The pool should have an accessible stepped entry that is or can be equipped with a pool lift.

More about Pool Accessibility, Spa Accessibility and Health Club Accessibility

Accessible Public Restroom Design 

  1. A unisex accessible toilet unit should be provided wherever public toilets are provided.
  2. Minimum size required for the unisex accessible toilet unit is 1800mm x 2350mm (with a wall hanging WC). The toilet cubicle for ambulatory disabled should be at least 800mm x 1500mm.
  3. Layout should provide for an unobstructed wheelchair manoeuvring space of 1800mm x 1800mm and a clear floor space of 750mm x 1200mm in front of all toilet fixtures and other utilities.
  4. The wall should contrast visually from the floor, the door from the wall, and all toilet fixtures should contrast in colour from both the wall and the floor.
  5. An audio and visual alarm should be installed in the toilet and it should be linked to the central emergency alarm system.
  6. Operable parts of all toilet utilities and accessories should be installed between the heights of 800mm and 1100mm from the floor surface.
  7. Toilet door must be outward opening or sliding type.
  8. A 600mm long horizontal pull bar should be installed,130mm from the hinged side, on the door at a height of 1100mm from the floor level.
  9. WC installed in the accessible toilet unit should preferably be wall hung.
  10. The WC should be installed in a corner with the centreline of the WC at a distance of 460mm to 480mm from the adjacent wall.
  11. There should be a clear floor space of 900mm x 1350mm on the transfer side and in front of the WC in the accessible toilet unit.
  12. The seat height of the WC should be between 480mm. Where there is no WC seat lid or tank, a back support should be provided.
  13. Lever type flush control should be installed at a height of 1100mm from the floor surface, on the transfer side of the WC.
  14. One horizontal grab bar should be installed on the rear wall and another one on the adjacent wall, both at a height of 200mm from the WC seat. Another vertical grab bar should be provided on the adjacent side wall and, where possible, a hinged drop-down rail should be provided on the transfer side next to the WC in the accessible toilet unit.
  15. A wash basin of 520mm x 410mm size should be installed at a distance of at least 460mm from the side wall.
  16. The top edge of the wash basin should be between heights of 800mm and 840mm from the floor level. There should be clear knee space of at least 750mm height x 750mm width x 200mm depth under the wash basin, with additional toe space of 300mm height x 750mm width x 230mm depth.
  17. The wash basin should have automatic or lever type faucets.

More about Accessible Public Restroom Design 

Accessible Guest Rooms

  1. ƒƒIt is good to have one accessible guest room in every twenty guest rooms.
  2. There should be an accessible route from the lobby with a clear opening door width of at least 900mm. The highest point of card swipe should be no more than 1100mm from the floor.
  3. Key hole should be between 900mm to 1000mm
  4. The room door should be light to open with a magnetic stopper.
  5. Room identification number should be in Braille and embossed on the wall, not the door.
  6. There should be 1800mm x1800mm turning space in the room.
  7. Within the room there should be 900mm wide unobstructive route to all furniture.
  8. Twin beds should have minimally a 900mm wide space between them.
  9. Bed height should be about 500mm from the floor including mattress.
  10. There should be a space of 1100mm in front of the wardrobe with adjustable clothes rod height.
  11. The study table should be minimally 900mm wide, 700mm deep and 760mm high with a clear knee recess 750mm high under the table.
  12. All knobs and handles should be lever type.
  13. All amenities such as a hair dryer and magnifying vanity mirror should be between 800mm to 1100mm from the floor
  14. Tea counter to be at a maximum height of 850mm with cordless kettle and light weight cups.
  15. There should be adequate colour contrast between the floor and the wall and the wall and the furnishings.
  16. There should be an emergency alarm operable from the bed and also from the adjacent floor.
  17. Fire alarm provided should be both audible and visible.
  18. Door bell should have a visual indicator.
  19. All sockets should be between 400mm and 1000mm from the floor and 350mm from the wall corner
  20. All switches and controls should be between 750mm and 1100mm from the floor.
  21. All switches should contrast in colour from the wall.

More about Accessible Guest Rooms

Accessible Bathroom and Shower Room

  1. The en-suite bathroom should have minimal internal dimensions of 2700mm x 2500mm.
  2. The width of the bath tub to be 700mm and the length between 1600mm to 1700mm and at a height of 480mm
  3. Taps should be mixer type with lever type faucets.
  4. Vertical grab rails, 500mm long to be installed at the tap side of the bath, at a distance of 600mm from the wall and at a height of 680mm from the finished floor.
  5. Horizontal grab bar, running across the length of the bath tub (and the transfer seat if any) is to be installed at 555mm to 580mm from the finished floor,
  6. Alternately the horizontal rail can also be cranked at a maximum angle of 13 degrees to the horizontal from the centre.
  7. Towel rail should be installed between 900mm and 1100mm from the floor level.

More about  Accessible Bathroom and Shower Room

Accessible Emergency Egress

  1. Alarm switches should contrast visually from the background wall and be installed between heights of 800mm and 1000mm from the floor level.
  2. Emergency alarms should have a visual and audible output.
  3. Consider installing non-auditory alarms such as flashing beacons, vibrating pillows or issuing vibrating pagers that are lined with the emergency alarm to guests at the time of checking into the hotel.
  4. An evacuation plan, detailing the evacuation procedure for disabled guests, should be installed in accessible guest rooms and at all other facilities that the guest may visit. This plan should be in large print format with the evacuation route represented in the form of a tactile map.
  5. Emergency evacuation routes for disabled guests should offer a step free and unobstructed path that is at least 1200mm wide.
  6. A ‘way-guidance lighting system’ should outline the entire length of the exit route.
  7. Internally illuminated directional signage should be installed at regular intervals along the evacuation route.
  8. Provide refuge areas that can accommodate at least two wheelchair users simultaneously on all floors above the ground level. Refuge areas should be equipped with an ‘evacuation chair’ and a two-way communication system that is linked with the central control room.
  9. Consider installing a fire proof evacuation elevator.
  10. Minimum luminance on the floor should be at least 1 lux along the centre line of the route and on stairs.
  11. Install clear illuminated sign above exit and also directional signage along the route.
  12. The directional exit signs with arrows indicating the way to the escape route should be provided at a height of 500mm from the floor level on the wall and should be internally illuminated by electric light connected to corridor circuits.
  13. Signs should be large enough to be recognised from a distance, and symbols and legend on signs should be at least 150mm in height and arrows should be minimally 35mm in height for the signs to be understood at a distance of 1 metre.
  14. Escape route lighting should be as simple and clear as possible, and wall markings as continuous as possible.
  15. It is preferable to have LED tracks on both sides of the corridor to outline the escape route and also give an idea of width of the corridor. LED strips should also be installed on the nosings of stairs in the evacuation route.

More about Accessible Emergency Egress

Accessible Exterior surfaces and Interior Doors

  1. Doors should contrast visually from the immediate surroundings, such as the door should contrast in colour from the surrounding wall.
  2. All doors should provide a minimum clear opening width of 900mm.
  3. Where direction of approach to a door requires turning at a right angle, the approach path should be at least 1000mm wide.
  4. An unobstructed wheelchair manoeuvring space that is at least 300mm wide should be available on the side next to the leading edge of the door.
  5. Door closures should be adjusted so that the doors do not require an opening force of more than 22 Newtons.
  6. Glass doors should be marked with colour strips or other manifestations.
  7. Thresholds should be avoided and, where unavoidable, these should not exceed 15mm in height and must be beveled.
  8. All door operating hardware should contrast in colour from the door and be installed between the heights of 900mm and 1100mm from the floor level. Lever handles are preferable to round knobs.
  9. Room numbers and other signage should not be installed on the door but on the adjacent wall between heights of 1400mm and 1700mm from the floor surface. The signage should incorporate raised letters and, where possible, Braille.

More about Accessible Exterior surfaces and Interior Doors

Accessible Floor Plans

  1. Floor finishes should be even, smooth and uniform.
  2. ƒAvoid reflective and slippery surfaces.
  3. ƒCombinations of floor finishes with different textures should be used to aid persons with vision impairments to identify and differentiate the various areas, and to warn them of approaching hazards.
  4. Avoid heavy patterns or textures on floor finishes and carpets.
  5. Glare index, coefficient of friction and acoustic properties of surfaces should be considered when choosing floor finishes.

More about Accessible Floor Plans


Signage is an important element in a building and provides various kinds of communication to visitors in a space. Signage that is effective benefits everyone. It also enables people with visual and hearing impairments and people with learning difficulties to use the environment as independently as possible. Signage provided at the right place reduces the effort required in wayfinding for guests, visitors and staff.

  1. In a sans serif font, font size relative to viewing distance.
  2. Use ‘Title Case’ (not ‘Sentence case’ or ‘UPPERCASE’)
  3. Ranged left for ease of reading (if a directional arrow pointed left it would be ranged right)
  4. Directional arrow near enough to follow easily
  5. Good colour contrast
  6. Signage must be clear, concise and consistent
  7. The information provided must be well thought through and precise
  8. Incorporate raised letters and standard pictograms

Size of Signs

Viewing Distance


Up to 7mm60mm x 60mm
7mm – 8mm100mm x 100mm
Exceeding 8mm200mm x 200mm to 450mm x 450mm

Size of Letters in Signs

Viewing Distance



More about Signage

Accessible Lighting

  1. Avoid non-uniform patterns of light and dark on the floors and walls.
  2. Avoid direct and reflected glare by selecting appropriate finishes and luminaries.
  3. Use lighting to highlight hazards and obstacles in the circulation path.
  4. Install luminaries that have a colour rendering index of at least Ra80

Maintain adequate and uniform lighting levels as indicated in the following table:

AreaMaintained Illuminance
Entrance halls, Lobby200 lux
Reception Desk300 lux
Circulation areas,Corridors100 lux
Stairs, Ramps150 lux
Gymnasium, Swimming Pool300 lux
Restaurant, Cafe200 lux
Conference Rooms300 lux
Business Centre300 lux
Computer Workstations300 lux
Kitchen500 lux

More about Accessible Lighting

Colour and Luminance Contrast

  1. Toilets: The sanitary ware in toilets should contrast from the background as should the grab bars.
  2. Stairs: Nosings should be well contrasted from the risers and the treads so that people can easily distinguish between the steps.
  3. Handrails: Handrails on stairs, ramps and single steps should contrast from the background wall.
  4. Doors: Doors should contrast from the adjoining wall, door frames should contrast from both the door and the adjoining wall, and door hardware should contrast from the door.
  5. Switches and sockets: switches, sockets and other operable controls should contrast from the background.
  6. Skirting: Skirting should, unless it is intended to be used as a handrail, ideally be the same colour or harmonise with the colour of the wall.
  7. Free standing obstacles: Free standing obstacles such as pillars, furniture and bins should contrast from their background so that people with reduced vision are able to identify these as hazards.
  8. Signage: Text and symbols on the signage should contrast from the frame and the entire sign frame should contrast from the background.
  9. Contrasting textures can also be helpful, such as tactile markers that people can identify by feel. Tactile ground surface indicators commonly seen at the edges of railway platforms are a good example of this. Other examples include carpet matting on a vinyl floor surface and domed buttons on handrails to indicate that the end of the stairway or ramp is approaching. Whenever different textures are used, they should also contrast, in colour and tone, to the adjoining/surrounding materials.
  10. Adequate ‘visual contrast’ refers to a difference of at least 30 points in the Light Reflectance Value of the two surfaces/ objects.
  11. Ensure there is adequate visual contrast between:
  12. Critical Surfaces (walls, ceiling and floor),
  13. Toilet fixtures and critical surfaces in toilet,
  14. Nosings and risers/ treads on steps,
  15. Handrails and background walls,
  16. Doors and surrounding walls,
  17. Switches/ sockets and background wall,
  18. Signages and background sign frame/ wall.
  19. Highlight obstacles and hazards by incorporating sufficient colour and luminance contrast.

More Details about Colour and Luminance Contrast


Ref :   Universal Design India Principles – ITC Hotels