Corridors should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, with turning spaces where needed. They should be free from obstructions, with necessary items such as bins, fire points and radiators clearly visible and with barriers. Contrast between walkways, surrounding areas, and walls should be used, and flooring styles chosen to avoid visual distraction / confusion. If doors are not required for fire safety, consider removing them.
Lighting should not present shadows across walls / floors in the spaces and corridors used. Shiny surfaces could be avoided as they can result in glare. Lighting over steps should provide clear distinction between each step and riser (100 lux at ramp / step level). Use of natural light should be maximised (along with the ability to reduce sun induced glare) and task lighting considered.
Contrasting fixtures, fittings, furniture, tableware and cutlery aid visual orientation between critical elements (doors, walkways, ceilings, plates etc).
Bold patterns on walls or floors can lead to disorientation for some.
Background noise can be distracting for people with cognitive issues or sensory impairments, affecting the ability to concentrate. Consider the need for quiet / safe spaces where people can take time out?
Doors should provide an opening of 750mm but you many need to consider wider doors if larger wheelchairs are likely. Pull handle (vertical) at a height for all to use (bottom height 700-1000mm and top end height no lower than 1300mm from floor). D shaped handles (19mm diameter) with a return ensure ease of use and should be situated at 1000mm from the floor. Door furniture to contrast with the door, which should contrast with the surrounding areas.
Vision panels in doors enable people on either side to see and be seen. They should be positioned centrally or offset to the leading edge, and be no less than 100mm in width. Glass should have warning indictors (at both seating (1050mm) and standing (1500mm) height which contrast under natural and artificial lighting with the surface behind it. Warning strips on the leading edge increase awareness of open doors. Doors should not be left half open.
Lift doors should provide at least 800mm of clear opening and cars have minimum dimensions of 1100mm x 1400mm. Control panels should be 900-1100 from floor level and be at least 400mm from any return, with tactile buttons contrasting in colour and luminance with the surrounding faceplate and wall. There should be voice indication for lift arrival, level reached and direction of travel.
Support rails should be on side and rear walls at a height of 900-1000mm from floor level. Mirrors should be 900mm above the floor on wall opposite door to allow wheelchair users to see behind them when reversing out. Automatic doors should have a delay before closing and the sensors should allow the closing to be over ridden.
Ramps should have handrails and a non-slip surface that contrasts with surrounding area. The maximum gradient is 1 in 12. Steps should have handrails, highlighted nosing, non-sllp treads (250-300mm) and closed risers (150-170mm). Temporary ramps should be available at all times.
Clear and logical but not excessive signage needs to be provided at all junctions, including steps and ramps – it should be consistent throughout the building. Safety signage is a legal requirement. Place signs at key decision points for people who are trying to navigate the building for the first time. Clear and repeated signs for toilets and exits are important and can help guide people back to the area they came from.
Think about landmarks. Research shows that people with dementia use ‘landmarks’ to navigate their way around (e.g. a clock, or plant).
Lack of contrast is a good way of de-emphasising features that are not for public access. Providing a map of the venue may help people find where they are and where they need to go? Tactile markings can identify important information.
Well signed seating and resting places put people at ease. Seating should be 450-475mm in height and there should be at least some provision without arm rests to suit people with mobility needs. Tables should permit access and use by wheelchair users (knee space 700mm high). Seating areas should be well spaced, with no tight spaces to navigate and with ample room for wheelchair users and people using a cane.
Counters and serveries should be 760mm in height with knee space 700mm high and 500mm deep for wheelchair users. Menus should be provided in large print.
In any areas where meetings or public gatherings are held, a fixed induction loop will support hearing aid users.
Think about people who may have perception difficulties. For example, shiny surfaces might look wet and make people anxious, black or very dark areas may look like a hole, and bold patterned carpets can disorientate.
Make sure the method for serving food is clear whether it is table service or counter ordering. Easy read and large print menus will help many.
Highlight provision of any facilities that improve access (e.g. step free environment / lift / ramps / induction loops).
Be honest about any limitations.