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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality
Theme: Accessibility :
Accessibility for the Disabled - A Design Manual for a Barrier Free Environment

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Obstacles and protruding elements in the path of travel.

Low overhanging signs.

Lack of warning signs around obstructions.


To design a barrier-free path for the safety and independence of disabled people, especially the sightless.


3.1 General

*Obstructions include street furniture, traffic signs, direction signs, street plans, bollards, plants, trees, shop awnings and advertising signs, etc.

*Obstructions should be placed outside the path of travel wherever possible.

*Obstructions in the pathway should be easy to detect, and if possible, should be placed along one continuous line.

*Protruding elements should be avoided.

*The minimum width of a clear unobstructed path should be 0.90 m.

3.2 Obstructions on the pathway surface

*Obstructions on the pathway surface should have one of the following design features in order to be detected by the cane of a sightless person:

(a) A straight shape rising from the pathway surface (fig. 1).

(b) A 0.10 m raised platform (fig. 2).

(c) Tactile warning markings on the ground around the obstruction. The warning markings should extend over a width of at least 0.60 m outside the projected area at the base of the obstacle (fig. 3).

3.3 Overhanging obstructions

*Overhanging signs in accessible pathways should be mounted at a minimum clear height of 2.00m to allow a sightless person to pass safely (fig. 4).

*Overhanging vegetation should be clipped to a minimum clear height of 2.00 m (fig. 5).

*Undetectable obstacles mounted lower than 2.00 m may project a maximum distance of 0.10m into the pathway. Otherwise they should be recessed or covered (fig. 6).

3.4 Fixed poles

*Fixed poles should have contrasting durable colour marking strips of at least 0.30 m in length, placed with the centre line at a height between 1.40 m and 1.60 m, to warn pedestrians with limited vision (fig. 1).

3.5 Garbage bins

*Garbage bins attached to lampposts should not face the line of pedestrian flow so as to minimize collisions and should be painted in a contrasting colour so that people with limited vision may easily identify them (fig. 7).

3.6 Spaces below ramps and stairs

*Spaces below ramps and stairs should be blocked out completely by protective rails or raised curbs or marked with a tactile surface (fig. 8).

3.7 Bicycle stands

*Bicycle stands should be located on a raised platform.

3.8 Wires

*Stabilizing wires and wire netting should be painted in a contrasting colour or blocked out. 3.9 Bollards (1) (fig. 9)

*Bollards should be painted in a contrasting colour or in coloured stripes.

*The distance between guiding posts should be around 1.20 m.

3.10 Roadworks

*Excavations and roadworks form temporary obstructions within the route of travel. They should be protected by easily detected continuous barriers, scaffolding, and fences for safety reasons.

*Barriers should be identified by stripped colour markings and should be lit at night, to guide people with limited vision.

*The barrier height should be between 0.75 m and and 0.95 m. The distance between the bottom of the barrier and the pathway surface should not exceed 0.10 m.


*Existing obstructions within the path of travel should be redesigned to conform to all the above requirements

(1) Bollards or guard posts are placed to keep out undesired motor traffic from pedestrian areas or to indicate a non parking area.

Obstructions - tall shapes rising from pathway surface.
Fig. 1

Obstructions with 0.10 m raised platform
Fig. 2

Tactile markings extending at least 0.60 m from the base of a projection.
Fig. 3

Overhanging signs at least 2.0 m high.
Fig. 4

Overhanging vegetation clipped to min. clear height of 2.0 m.
Fig. 5

low horizontal obstacles protrude no more than 0.10 m.
Fig. 6

Locating garbage bins attached to lampposts.
Fig. 7

Spaces below ramps and stairs blocked out.
Fig 8.

Distance between bollards or guiding posts about 1.20 m.
Fig. 9

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development