Physical Design


  • Install lightweight or automatic doors if possible. If doors are glass they should be clearly marked.
  • Make sure exterior doors, interior doors, halls, and aisles are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Aisles should be kept clear and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Ensure that some seating areas can accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Install a ramp if possible.
  • Provide resting or seating areas near entrances, if possible. When creating seating areas, assure that at least some seats/benches have arms to assist with standing from the seated position.


  • Provide publicly accessible bathrooms if possible. Include at least one bathroom that is wheelchair-accessible, including wide stall and sink/hand dryer at proper height.
  • Consider having a gender neutral bathroom large enough to accommodate an individual and a caregiver, this benefits older adults and families.


  • Clearly mark stairs, inclines, any changes in floor elevation, or obstacles
  • Lighting in stairways should be bright and uniform
  • Keep the entire width of sidewalk in front of your business free of leaves, snow or other debris; clearing only a single pathway is not enough for a wheelchair/walker, and companion providing assistance
  • Floors should be non-slip and kept clean and dry
  • Remove throw rugs or other items that might pose tripping hazards
  • Clean up spills or puddles immediately to prevent slipping
  • Handrails should be installed where needed


  • Signage should be kept consistent in design so it’s easy to identify
  • Keep information simple, essential, and clear
  • Use simple, large lettering and universal symbols (e.g., bathroom men/women symbol), avoid abstract images
  • Clear color contrast between text and background, avoid using similar colors on text and background as they can blend together when viewed.
  • Hang signs at eye level when possible and make sure they are well lit
  • Create a contrast between signs and the surfaces to which they are mounted so they are easily recognized as a sign
  • If possible, affix signs to the doors they refer to rather than adjacent surfaces


  • Place products within reach on shelves or offer help reaching items.
  • Keep aisles clear as much as possible during restocking.