Access > Guidelines
> Architecture and planning
The primary objective of this report, drawn up by Central Public
Works Department (C.P.W.D.), Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, India,
is to frame guidelines for non-ambulant (chair bound), semi-ambulant (lower
limb impairments), visual, and hearing disabled persons.
construction and maintenance standard should be followed in all categories of
buildings and facilities used by the public for making design accessible to,
and functional for, physically disabled persons. Although the recommendations
are concerned exclusively with the requirements of disabled people, but the
facilities will invariably make buildings more convenient for elderly persons
and persons suffering from any kind of physical aliments. A safer, easier environment
for the physically disabled benefits everyone. The main purpose is to integrate
disabled and elderly persons fully into the society. The presumption that all
elderly are handicapped, is an over simplification of the needs of both groups
and is a disservice to both.
Builders, designers and architects are ultimately the users of this standard
to ensure that the specific environment created by them is suitable for all
categories of people. The standard also indicates that barrier-free design can
be achieved without economic burden to the client, builder, designer and the
architect. It will help to provide a framework for developing policies to ensure
a barrier-free environment and eliminate the lack of awareness in both the public
and private sectors to the problem of accessibility.
Excerpts from Guidelines and Space Standards for barrier-free
for Disabled and Elderly Persons
Central Public Works Department, Ministry of Urban Affairs
and Employment , India, 1998
The C.P.W.D. guidelines are recommendations for designers
and architects and cover the following areas:
- Type of disabilities
- Mobility devices
- Constructions and maintenance standards
- Classification of buildings
- Minimum access provisions required in various types of
- Design elements within the building premises (public
- Guiding/warning floor material
- Other facilities
- Design elements outside the building
- Residential buildings
- Railway stations
- Model building bye-laws
Below are excerpts from the guidelines. If you want to view the complete guidelines,
please email us at email@example.com
A barrier-free environment is one which enables people with disabilities to
move about safely and freely and to use the facilities within the built environment.
The goal of barrier-free design is to provide an environment that supports the
independent functioning of individuals so that they can get to, and participate
without assistance in everyday activities such as procurement of goods and services,
community living, employment, and leisure. The fundamental principles should
be followed in developing standards/norms for various facilities to meet disabled
people’s standards for safety, convenience and usability. Barrier free
design standards should satisfy anyone who is hampered in his mobility or functioning
(as compared with a non-disabled person) as a result of obstacles put in his
way by the design of a building, the choice of hardware and equipment, and the
arrangement of outside space.
The primary objective of this report is to frame guidelines for non-ambulant
(chair-bound), semi ambulant (lower limb impairments), visual, and hearing disabled
persons. This construction and maintenance standard should be followed in all
categories of buildings and facilities used by the public for making design
accessible to and functional for physically disabled persons. Although the recommendations
are concerned exclusively with the requirements of disabled people but the facilities
will invariably make buildings more convenient for elderly persons and persons
suffering from any kind of physical ailments. A safer, easier environment for
the physically disabled benefits everyone. The main purpose is to integrate
disabled and elderly persons fully into society. The presumption that all elderly
are handicapped are elderly, is an over simplification of the needs of both
groups and is a disservice to both.
Building types to which the recommendations may be applied are residential
buildings other than domestic buildings, healthcare institutions, educational
establishments, community and religious centres agriculture and transport facilities.
The guidelines have also indicated the minimum access provisions required in
various types of buildings.
This standard shall be a valuable document to exchange comments between disabled
consumers architects and others interested in an environment which does not
exclude disabled people. This may also generate research activities to provide
required knowledge base.
Type of disabilities
Various disabilities which have been considered while preparing the guidelines
for barrier-free built environment are broadly classified under four categories
1. Non-ambulatory: Impairments that, regardless of cause or
manifestation, for all practical purposes, confine individuals to wheelchairs.
2. Semi-ambulatory: Impairments that cause individuals to
walk with difficulty or insecurity. Individuals using braces or crutches, amputees,
arthritics, spastics and those with pulmonary and cardiac ills may be semi-ambulatory.
3. Sight: Total blindness or impairments affecting sight to
the extent that the individual functioning in public areas is insecure or exposed
4. Hearing: Deafness or hearing handicaps that might make
an individual insecure in public areas because he is unable to communicate or
hear warning signals.
- Adequate space for persons using mobility devices
- Adequate space should be allocated for persons using mobility
devices, e.g. wheelchairs, crutches and walkers, as well as those walking
with the assistance of other persons.
- The range of reach (forward and side; with or without
obstruction) of a person in a wheelchair should be taken into consideration.
- Attention should be given to dimensions of wheelchairs
used locally. Standard size of wheel chair has been taken as 1050mm x 750mm.
- Locking and opening controls for window and doors should
not be more than 1400mm from the finished floor usable by one hand.
- Switches for electric light and power as well as door
handles and other fixtures and fittings should be between 900 mm-1200 mm from
- Power point for general purpose should be fixed between
400-500 mm from the finished floor.
- A wheelchair user’s movement pivots around his or
her shoulders. Therefore, the range of reach is limited, approximately 630
mm for an adult male.
- While sitting in a wheelchair, the height of the eyes
from the floor is about 1190 mm for an adult male.
- A wheelchair has a footplate and leg rest attached
in front of the seat. (The footplate extends about 350 mm in front of the
knee). The footplate may prevent a wheelchair user from getting close enough
to an object.
- Manually operated equipment must be designed to be
easily accessible from a wheelchair.
- Make sure that the coin slots of vending machines,
etc, are located no higher than 1200 mm.
- Allow a space at least 350 mm deep and 700 mm high
under a counter, stand, etc.
Construction and maintenance standards
A) Non-ambulatory disabilities
- Persons restricted on wheelchairs should use the facilities
within the built environment alone without a helper’s assistance.
- A wheelchair may be operated by the user alone or with
a helper’s assistance. However, wheelchair design must assume that the
user should be able to operate the wheelchair without help.
- The width and length of the wheelchair, its control and
the diameter of the casters decide the following:
- Width of entrances and exits (clear 900 mm)
- Width of the passage/corridor (min. 900mm)
- Slope of the climbing (min. ramp slope 1:12)
- Passing over different levels and grooves (Grating with
narrow slots in the direction of movement and level difference to limit to
2 cm or less)
- Transferring from wheel chair (adequate space is required
to transfer from wheelchair to toilet seat and bed.
B) Semi-ambulatory disabilities
Persons in this category are those who use walking aids such as crutches or
canes, who are amputees, who have chest ailments or heart disease. The persons
in this category include those who can not walk without a cane and those who
have some trouble in their upper or lower limbs although they can walk unassisted.
- Width of passage for crutch users (min. 900 mm).
- Finishes of floor surface with non slip floor material.
- Installation of handrail to support the body weight at
critical places, for example staircase, toilet, ramp, passage with a change
of level (800-850 mm).
- Extension of handrail on the flat landing at the top and
bottom of the stairs (300 mm).
- To prevent a cane or crutch tip from slipping off the
side of the stairs or ramp, install a 20 mm high lip on the exposed edge.
Persons in this category are blind or with impaired vision. Visually impaired
persons make use of other senses such as hearing or touch to compensate for
the lack of vision. It is necessary to give instructions accessible through
the sense of touch (hands, fingers or legs). While walking with a cane the person
may bump his or her head or shoulder against protruding objects. Persons with
may be able to discriminate between dark and bright shades and defferences in
- Use of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision
to guide them within the buildings and facilities and outside the building.
(Refer details of guiding/warning blocks).
- Installation of information board in Braille.
- Installation of audible signages (announcements).
- Removal of any protruding objects and sufficient walking
space for safe walking.
- For persons with limited vision: use of contrasting colour
- Provision of information board in an easily understandable
- Provision of illuminated signages, layout diagrams to
help people easily reach the desired place.
Elderly persons may suffer impaired mobility. Sight disabilities (partially
or fully), hearing disabilities or any other physical difficulties, for which
the design guidelines for them within and outside the buildings and facilities
shall be similar to those for other physically disabled persons.
Minimum access provisions in various types of buildings
- Single detached, single dwelling units: A minimum of
2% total number of units to be constructed with barrier-free futures
- Staff housing, multiple dwelling and high rise residential
units and tenements: A minimum of 1 unit for every 25, plus 1 additional unit
for every 100 units thereafter. Entrances and exits to be accessible.
- Tenement houses, row houses, apartments and town houses:
A minimum of 1 unit for up to 150 units, and a minimum of 1 additional unit
for every 100 units thereafter to be accessible.
- Post offices, banks and financial service institutions:
A minimum of 1 lowered service counter on the premises. A minimum of 1 lowered
automatic teller machine (ATM) / cash disbursement point on the premises.
Stamp vending machine.
- Shophouses and single-storey shops: Accessible shopping
- Places of worship: Entrances and exits and main area of
worship to be accessible. Mosques: access to area for ablutions; Churches:
access to confessionals, fonts and chapels; Temples: access to shrines and
- Food centers: A minimum of 1 table without stools or seats
attached t the floor for every 10 tables. A minimum of 2 tables without stools
or seats attached to the floor for the whole premises. Accessible entrance
- Community centers, village halls, auditoria, concert hall,
assembly halls, cinemas, theaters and other places of public assembly: Accessible
entrances, exits, aisles and main community or public gathering areas. Accessible
toilet facilities should be nearby. Seating for persons with disability to
be provided for persons in wheelchairs throughout the main seating area. A
minimum of 4 wheelchair spaces for seating capacity from over 100 to 400 seats
Walks and paths
- Walks should be smooth, hard level surface suitable for
walking and wheeling. Irregular surface as cobble stones, coarsely exposed
aggregate concrete, bricks, etc, often cause bumpy rides.
- The minimum walkway width would be 1200 mm and for moderate
two way traffic it should be 1650 mm-1800 mm.
- Longitudinal walk gradient should be 3 to 5% (30 mm-50
mm in 1 metre)
- When walks exceed 60 metre in length it is desirable to
provide rest area adjacent to the walk at convenient intervals with space
for bench seats. For comfort the seat should be between 350 mm-425 mm high
but not over 450 mm.
- Texture change in walkways adjacent to seating will be
desirable for blind persons.
- Avoid grates and manholes in walks. If grates cannot be
avoid then bearing bar should be perpendicular to the travel path and no opening
between bearing bars should be greater than 12 mm in width.
For parking of vehicles of disabled people the following provisions shall be
a) Surface parking for two care spaces shall be provided near the entrance
for physically handicapped persons with maximum travel distance of 30 m from
b) The width of parking bay shall be minimum 3.60 metre.
c) The information stating that the space is reserved for wheelchair users shall
be conspicuously displayed.
d) Guiding floor materials shall be provided or a device which guides visually
impaired persons with audible signals or other devices which serves the same
purpose shall be provided.
- The main purpose of signs should be to provide a clear
designation of places, warnings and routing information. A person in a wheelchair
is less than 1200 mm high. A person who is partially sighted needs contrasting
texture along side walkways and audible signs for dangerous areas. Signs should
be useful to everyone, easily seen from eye level, readable by moving the
fingers and well lighted for right time identification.
- Signs shall indicate the direction and name of the accessible
facility and incorporate the symbol of access.
- The size, type and layout of lettering on signs shall
be clear and legible.
Signs should be in contrasting colours and preferably be embossed in distinct
relief to allow visually impaired persons to obtain the information they contain
by touching them.
- Simple symbols and contrasting colours which are universally
recognised should be used, for example, green for safety or go, yellow or
amber for risk or caution, and red for danger.
Guiding/warning floor material
Shapes of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision
(1) Shape of liner block
(2) Shape of spot block
Places to instal guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision
- Immediately in front of a location where there is a vehicular
- Immediately in front of an entrance/exit to and from
a staircase or multilevel crossing facility.
- Entrance/exit to and from public transportation terminals,
or at boarding areas.
- Sidewalk section of a guiding or approaching road to
- Path from a public facility which is frequently visited
by persons with impaired vision (e.g. city hall or library) to the nearest
railroad station (to be installed at intervals).
Other places where installation of a guiding block for persons with impaired
vision is considered effective (for example, locations abruptly changing in
level or ramp) are:
Entrances: Example using 30 cm square flooring material
On premises: Intersection/L-shaped intersection/T-shaped intersection
To make a counter easily accessible for a wheelchair user, allow a space about
700 mm high and 350 mm deep under the counter.
Water fountains (Drinking)
Allow sufficient space around the water fountain to make it easily accessible
for wheelchair users. Depending on the type of water fountain allow a space
about 700 mm high and 350 mm deep under the fountain.
Allow a space about 700 mm high and 350 mm deep under the telephone stand. The
telephone receiver must be placed at a height of 110 cm or less.
The mail slot must be located at a height of 1200mm or less.
The coin slot must be located at a height of 1200mm or less.
Counter/drinking water fountain
Telephone stand/wall-mounted telephone
Design elements outside the building
- Two rows of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision
should be provided 300 mm. away from the bus stop pole on the sidewalk.
- The bus stop pole should be clearly visible after dark.
- The bus stop area should be equipped with a roof and
Example of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision installed at bus
- Information on the names of all stops along a bus route
should be indicated inside the bus displaying text in a suitable position.
Preferably, this information should also be announced verbally.
- Information on a route and its final destination should
be displayed outside the bus in large text, especially on its front and side.
This information should be illuminated by an internal light to make it readable
in the dark.
- Guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision.
- Two rows of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision
should be provided 300 mm. away from the taxi stand pole on the sidewalk.
- The taxi stand pole should be visible after dark.
- For wheelchair users to be able to approach a taxi easily,
sudden level differences from the taxi stand to the road need to be eliminated.
- Illumination and guiding blocks for persons with impaired
- Sufficient floor or ground space for a forward or parallel
approach by a wheelchair user should be provided near telephone booths.
- The highest part of a telephone should be within reach
of a seated person.
- Knee space should be provided under telephones.
Approach to station
- The approach should not have a different in level. If
this is unavoidable, install a ramp or a ramp plus staircase.
- The ramp should comply with the guidelines for “Ramps”
and the stair should comply with those for “Steps and Stairs”.
- Pathways should be constructed of non-slip material. At
places where there is a difference in level, such as where staircases meet
floors, it is desirable that the appearance of the surface material be changed
using colour contrast both immediately before and after that area.
- The approach pathway should have guiding blocks for persons
with impaired vision (see “Guiding Blocks”).
- If the approach pathway is parallel to a road for vehicles,
enhance the safety of pedestrians by installing guard rails.
- The station entrance/exit should not have a difference
in level. If a level difference is unavoidable, install a ramp or a ramp plus
(The ramp should comply with the guidelines for “Ramps” and the
stair should comply with those for “Steps and Stairs”).
- It is desirable that space be marked out near the entrance/exit
for vehicles carrying wheelchair users. (For the details about parking lots,
see “Parking Space”).
- Reservation or information counters should have unobstructed
approaches for wheelchair users.
- Counter heights should not be in excess of 850 mm.
- The width of the concourse should be at least 1800mm.
- The concourse should not have a difference in level. If
a level difference is unavoidable, install a ramp or a ramp plus staircase.
- (The ramp should comply with the guidelines for “Ramps”
and the stair should comply with those for “Steps and Stairs”).
- The floor surface of a concourse should be made a non-slip
material. At places where there is a difference in level such as stairs, it
is desirable that the appearance of the surface material be changed using
- Install a lift (elevator) as a means to enable passengers with disabilities
to move between floors.
- For the lift (elevator), install two guiding blocks for persons with impaired
vision 300 mm. away from the call button.
- Install a toilet and washstand suitable for use by wheelchair users and
- At least one of the ticket gates should be wide
enough to allow wheelchair users to pass through easily.
- One of the ticket gates should have a continuous line of guiding blocks
for persons with impaired vision.
- The platform should have one row of dotted guiding blocks
for persons with impaired vision, 800 mm. or more from the edge.
- The paved surface of the platform must be made with a
- Stairs, kiosks and dustbins on the platform must not hinder
the clear passage of persons with impaired vision and wheelchair users.
- A bench should be installed on the platform, with a guiding
block around it.
Railway and subway
- Car doors should be wide enough for wheelchair users (minimum
- The gap between car doors and the platform should be reduced
to an absolute minimum.
- Aisles should be wide enough for the passage of wheelchair
- A space for a wheelchair should be indicated inside and
outside the car by using the universally recognised symbol for wheelchair
- Install a ring-strap or other appropriate safety grip
for wheelchair users to hold on to.
- An appropriate numbers of designated seats for passengers
with disabilities and for elderly people should be provided near doors.
5. Building requirements
The specified facilities for the buildings for physically
handicapped persons shall be as follows:
1. Approach to plinth level
2. Corridor connecting the entrance/exit for the handicapped.
6. Drinking water
5.1 Approach to plinth level: Every building should have at least one entrance
accessible to the handicapped and shall be indicated by proper signage. This
entrance shall be approached through a ramp together with the stepped entry.
5.1.1 Ramped Approach: Ramp shall be finished with non-slip
material to enter the building. Minimum width of ramp shall be 1800 mm with
maximum gradient 1:12, length of ramp shall not exceed 9.0 metre with 800 mm
high handrail on both sides extending 300 mm beyond top and bottom of the ramp.
Minimum gap from the adjacent wall to the handrail shall be 50 mm.
5.1.2 Stepped approach: For stepped approach size of tread
shall not be less than 300 mm and maximum riser shall be 150 mm Provision of
800-mm high handrail on both sides of the stepped approach similar to the ramped
5.1.3 Exit/entrance Door: Minimum clear opening of the entrance
door shall be 900 mm and it shall not provided with a step.
5.1.4 Entrance landing: Entrance landing shall be provided
adjacent to ramp with the minimum dimensions 1800 mm x 2000 mm. The entrance
landing that adjoins the top end of a slope shall be provided with floor materials
to attract the attention of visually impaired persons (limited to coloured floor
material whose colour and brightness is conspicuously different from that of
the surrounding floor material or the material that emits different sound to
guide visually impaired persons hereinafter referred to as “guiding floor
material” (Annexure-I). Finishes shall have a non slip surface with a
texture traversable by a wheelchair. Curbs wherever provided should blend to
a common level.
5.2 Corridor connecting the entrance/exit for the handicapped:
The corridor connecting the entrance/exit for handicapped leading directly outdoors
to a place where information connecting the overall use of the specified building
can be provided to visually impaired persons either by a person or by signs,
shall be provided as follow:
a) ‘Guiding floor shall be provided materials’
or devices that emit sound to guide visually impaired persons,
b) The minimum width shall be 1500mm.
c) Ina case there is a difference of level slope of 1:12.
d) Handrails shall be provided for ramps/slope should be ways.
5.3 Stair-ways: One of the stairways near the entrance/exit
for the handicapped shall have the following provisions:
a) The minimum width shall be 1350mm.
b) Height should be not be more than 150 mm and width of the tread 300 mm.
The steps shall not have abrupt (square) nosing.
c) Maximum number of risers on a flight shall be limited to 12.
d) Handrails shall be provided on both sides and shall extend 300 mm. on the
top and bottom of each flight of steps..
5.4 Lifts: Wherever lift is required as per bye-laws, provision
of at least one lift recommended for passenger lift of 13 persons capacity by
Bureau of Indian Standards.
Clear internal depth: 1100 mm.
Clear internal width: 2000 mm.
Entrance door widt : 900 mm.
a) A hand rail not less than 600 mm long at 1000 mm above
floor level shall be fixed adjacent to the control panel.
b) The lift lobby shall be of an inside measurement of 1800 mm x 1800 mm or
c) The time of an automatically closing door should be minimum 5 seconds and
the closing speed should not exceed 0.25 Metre/Second.
d) The interior of the cage shall be provided with a device that audibly indicates
the floor the cage has reached and indicates that the door of the cage for
entrance/exit is either open or closed.
5.5 Toilets: One special W.C. in a set of toilet shall be
provided for the use of handicapped with essential provision of wash basin near
the entrance for the handicapped.
a) The minimum size shall be 1500 mm x 1750 mm.
b) Minimum clear opening of the door shall be 900 mm and the door shall swing out.
c) Suitable arrangement of vertical/horizontal handrails with 50mm. clearance from wall shall be made in the toilet.
d) The W.C. seat shall be 500 mm from the floor.
5.6 Drinking water: Suitable provision of drinking water
shall be made for disabled people near the special toilet provided for them.
5.7 Designing for children: In buildings meant for the pre
dominant use of children, it will be necessary to suitably alter the height
of the handrail and other fittings and fixtures, etc.
Guiding/warning floor material
The floor to guide visually impaired persons, with a change
of colour or material with conspicuously different texture and easily distinguishable
from the rest of the surrounding floor materials, is called guiding or warning
floor material. The material with different texture gives audible signals with
sensory warning when a person moves on this surface with walking stick. The
guiding/warning floor material is meant to give the directional effect or warn
a person at critical places. This floor material shall be provided in the following
- The access path to the building and to the parking area.
- The landing lobby towards the information board, reception,
lifts, stair cases and toilets.
- Immediately at the beginning/end of walkway where there
is vehicular traffic.
- At the location abruptly changing in level or beginning/end
of a ramp.
- Immediately in front of an entrance/exit and the landing.
- Appropriate identification of specific facilities within
a building for disabled persons should be done with proper signage. Visually
impaired persons make use of other senses such as hearing and touch to compensate
for the lack of vision. Visual signals benefit those with hearing disabilities.
- Signs should be designed and located so that they are
easily legible by using suitable letter size (not less than 20 mm high). For
visually impaired persons, information board in Braille should be installed
on the wall at a suitable height and it should be possible to approach them
closely. To ensure safe walking there should not be any protruding sign which
creates obstruction in walking. Public Address System may also be provided
in busy public areas.
- The symbols/information should be in contrasting
colour and properly illuminated because people with limited vision may be
able to differentiate amongst primary colours. International symbol mark for
wheelchair should be installed in the lift, toilet, staircase, parking areas,
etc, that have been provided for disabled people.