Accessibility Tip of the Week

Forge your organization's path.

  • Summary: Provide accessible pathways for your facilities.
  • Who it helps: People using wheelchairs and walkers, people with strength, stamina, balance and coordination related disabilities.
  • Additional benefits: People delivering packages and those pushing strollers and carts have a much easier time accessing the building.

Businesses, community centers, churches, temples, museums, hospitals, and other organizations all want their customers to be able to get inside quickly and easily. They decorate their entrance and foyer to make it feel welcoming. Some will have a staff member or volunteer greet people at the door to help usher them in. Organizations often choose their locations to be near some public transportation, to make it even easier to attract people. The goal is always the same: remove as many barriers as possible to get people in the door.

A pathway is how your customers or attendees or attendees get to and move within your facility. This can be the path from a parking lot, public transportation, elevator, sidewalks or walkways. Every facility has at least one pathway for your customers or attendees to arrive. Not only does this pathway need to be obvious to all visitors, it needs to be accessible as well.

So what makes a pathway accessible? An accessible pathway needs to…

  • Be at least 36 inches (92 cm) wide to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and large packages.
  • Be clear of obstructions that could hinder usage of a cane. This includes shelving or other obstacles that hover over 27 inches (68 cm) above the floor and therefore won’t be detectable by a cane.
  • Provide firm footing which doesn’t get slippery when wet.
  • Be relatively flat with a gradual slope.
  • Not require stairs to be used.

What can I do?

Here are some suggestions to ensure that your pathway is accessible.

  • Walk holding a yardstick centered in front of you to check that your pathway is wide enough.
    • If the yardstick is hitting objects as you walk, it’s a good indication that it isn’t.
  • If you have an elevator, ramp or separate accessible entrance, clearly mark that with multiple signs.
  • If the pathway around your entrance or outside can be slippery, place a textured mat or rug to provide additional stability.
    • Make sure it is firmly attached to the floor to avoid creating a tripping hazard.
  • Take some time to train your staff on helping visitors that need assistance to enter.

If you can’t make some of these changes, you’ll need to be more creative in providing accommodations until you can make alterations. Consider placing a sign with a phone number, a bell or another way that allows people to contact you when they can’t enter your facility. You may want to have a staff member or volunteer to greet visitors and assist those who need help entering. You may also consider moving services to other locations that have an accessible pathway.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.