Skip navigation links Sitemap | About us | FAQs

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




Narrow doorways.

Doors hinged on the wrong side, thus hindering accessibility.

Doorways with high thresholds.

Heavy and hard-to-operate door leaves.


To facilitate the passage of a wheelchair user through doors.


3.1 General

*Accessible doors should be so designed as to permit operation by one person in a single motion with little effort.

*Power-operated doors are the best for people with disabilities. The activator system should be automatic or placed within easy reach.

*An accessible door should have the following features: a sign, a door handle, an extra pull handle, glazing and a kick plate.

3.2 Door types (a) Automatic doors: - Can be of the sliding or swinging type. In general sliding doors are preferable to swinging doors (fig. 1) (fig. 2).

- Automatic doors are useful when traffic is heavy.

- Automatic doors should have an adequate opening interval. -Guard-rails can be installed near double-swinging doors to indicate a door-opening area and to prevent people from being hit by the door.

(b) Revolving doors: - Revolving doors are not suitable for the use of disabled people or people with prams.

- Wherever there are revolving doors, an adjacent accessible swinging or sliding door should be provided (fig. 3).

- Auxiliary gates should be provided next turnstiles (fig. 3).

(c) Pivoted doors: - Pivoted doors should swing away from the direction of travel wherever possible.

- Pivoted doors in series are considered as vestibules (see Vestibules).

(d) Sliding and folding doors: - Manual sliding and folding doors are recommended for narrow spaces not heavily used by the public (fig. 4).

3.3 Door opening

*For exterior doors, the minimum opening is 0.90 m when the door is open.

*For interior doors, the minimum opening is 0.80 m when the door is open.

*The minimum door opening can be 0.75 m if the access is straight or if the door can stay open by itself (fig. 5).

*The minimum door width of rest rooms should be 0.75 m.

*For doors installed in an opening more than 0.60 m in depth, the clear door opening should be at least 0.90 m (fig. 6).

*For double-leaf doors, at least one leaf should have a minimum clear width of 0.80 m (fig. 7).

3.4 Manual door hardware

*Operational devices on doors, such as handles, pulls, latches and locks, should be easy to grasp with one hand (fig. 8).

(a) Handles: - Lever-type handles, push plates or pull handles are recommended for swinging doors because they are easy to open. (1)

- Round knobs are not recommended.

- Door handles should be located at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.00 m from the floor surface.

(b) Locks: Locks on entrance doors should be mounted at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.00 m from the floor.

(c) Extra pull handle: To facilitate closing, a door fitted with spring closers should be equipped with an extra pull handle approximately 0.30 m in length, located between 0.20 m and 0.30 m from the hinged side of the door and mounted between 0.90 m and 1.20 m from the floor.

3.5 Automatic doors hardware

*Automatic doors can be activated by:

(a) Push buttons located at a comfortable height between 0.90 m and 1.20 m; (b) Activating mats, which can also serve as a location cue (fig. 2);

(c) Card-insert switch;

(d) Remote control.

3.6 Threshold (fig. 8)

*Thresholds should be omitted wherever possible. Weather-stripping at the door bottom is preferred to thresholds.

*The threshold should not be more than 20 mm higher than the finished floor level.

*Thresholds higher than 6 mm should be beveled or have sloped edges to facilitate the passage of a wheelchair.

3.7 Exit doors landing

*The exit landing should not be lower than the finished floor level by more than 20 mm.

3.8 Glazing and glazed doors

*Outward swinging doors and doors in public corridors should have low windows to enable users to see oncoming traffic. The bottom edge of the window should not be higher than 1.00 m from the finished floor level (fig. 8).

*Completely glazed doors should be avoided in buildings frequented by people with visual impairments.

*Glazed doors should be clearly marked with a coloured band or mark placed for the benefit of all users at a height between 1.40 m and 1.60 m (fig. 2).

3.9 Kick plates

*Kick plates are useful in protecting the finish on the lower part of the door. Kick plates should be between 0.30 m and 0.40 m in height (fig. 8).

3.10 Signage

*In public buildings, the function or room number, incorporating international symbols should be identified at eye level, i.e. between 1.40 m and 1.60 m (fig. 8).

*Room numbers should be placed on door frames and not on doors themselves so that the room number is visible even when the door is open.

3.11 Colour

*The door or the door frame can be painted in a colour that contrasts with the adjoining wall to facilitate its identification by people with visual impairments.


*It is recommended that automatic doors replace heavy, hard-to-open swinging doors.

*Door openings narrower than 0.75 m should be widened. A swing-clear hinged door may be used to slightly enlarge an opening.


(1) Lever type handles can be activated by hand, elbow or other means.

Activating mat for automatic doors.
Fig. 1


Activating mat for automatic doors; doors open away from mat.
Fig. 2


Wherever there are revolving doors, adjacent swinging or sliding door required.
Fig. 3


Manual sliding and folding doors for narrow spaces.
Fig. 4


Minimum door opening of 0.75 m if door can stay open by itself.
Fig. 5


Minimum door width of 0.90 m for opening of more than 0.60 m in depth.
Fig. 6


Double-leaf doors, at least one door with minimum width of 0.80 m.
Fig. 7


Dimensions for signage, glazing, and extra pull handles for doors.
Fig. 8

previousPrevious : Nextnext

Home | Sitemap | About us | News | FAQs | Contact us

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