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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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Inaccessible building entrances due to difference between indoor and outdoor levels.

Inaccessible routes due to differences in level.

Lack of or improper design of ramps.

Very steep and/or long ramps with no resting landings.


To provide ramps wherever stairs obstruct the free passage of pedestrians, mainly wheelchair users and people with mobility problems.


3.1 General

*An exterior location is preferred for ramps. Indoor ramps are not recommended because they take up a great deal of space.

*Ideally, the entrance to a ramp should be immediately adjacent to the stairs.

3.2 Ramp configuration (1)

*Ramps can have one of the following configurations:

(a) Straight run (fig. 1);

(b) 90 turn (fig. 2);

(c) Switch back or 180 turn (fig. 3).

3.3 Width

*Width varies according to use, configuration and slope.

*The minimum width should be 0.90 m.

3.4 Slope

*The maximum recommended slope of ramps is 1:20. Steeper slopes may be allowed in special cases depending on the length to be covered (fig. 4).

Maximum slope Maximum length Maximum rise
1:20  i.e., 5% - -
1:16  i.e., 6% 8 m 0.50 m
1:14  i.e., 7% 5 m 0.35 m
1:12  i.e., 8% 2 m 0.15 m
1:10  i.e., 10% 1.25 m 0.12 m
1:08  i.e., 12% 0.5 m 0.06 m

3.4 Landings

*Ramps should be provided with landings for resting, maneuvering and avoiding excessive speed.

*Landings should be provided every 10.00 m, at every change of direction and at the top and bottom of every ramp.

*The landing should have a minimum length of 1.20 m and a minimum width equal to that of the ramp

3.5 Handrail

*A protective handrail at least 0.40 m high must be placed along the full length of ramps.

*For ramps more than 3.00 m wide, an intermediate handrail could be installed (fig. 5).

*The distance between handrails when both sides are used for gripping should be between 0.90 m and 1.40 m (fig. 5).

3.6 Surface

*The ramp surface should be hard and non-slip.

*Carpets should be avoided.

3.7 Tactile marking

*A coloured textural indication at the top and bottom of the ramp should be placed to alert sightless people as to the location of the ramp.

*The marking strip width should not be less than 0.60 m.

3.8 Drainage n Adequate drainage should be provided to avoid accumulation of water.

3.9 Obstacles

*The same clearance considerations that apply to pathways apply to ramps (see Obstructions).

3.10 Mechanical Ramps

*Mechanical ramps can be used in large public buildings but are not recommended for use by persons with physical impairments.

*If the ramp is to be used by a wheelchair-confined person, the slope should not exceed 1:12.

*The maximum width should be 1.00 m to avoid slipping.


If the topography or structure of the existing building is restrictive, minor variations of gradient are allowed as a function of the ramp length:

Maximum slope Maximum length Maximum rise
1:20  i.e., 9% - -
1:16  i.e., 6% 8 m 0.50 m
1:14  i.e., 7% 5 m 0.35 m
1:12  i.e., 8% 2 m 0.15 m
1:10  i.e., 10% 1.25 m 0.12 m
1:08  i.e., 12% 0.5 m 0.06 m

*A non-slip surface finish should be added to slippery ramps.


(1) Circular or curved ramps are not recommended

Straight run ramp with a landing.
Fig. 1


Ninety (90) degree turn ramp.
Fig. 2


Switch back or 180 degree turn ramp.
Fig. 3


Maximum recommended slope is 1:20.
Fig. 4


Configuration of handrails on ramps.
Fig. 5

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