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An important part of accessibility is not only accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zones, ramps, Disabled Toilets & Lifts, etc but also insuring that there are various accessible routes from the public streets onto the pavements & to the accessible building entrance and to the facilities inside the building & visa versa. Appropriate accessible routes should also be made available for emergency exits. Accessible Routes include:

  • Ramps on & off the pavement
  • Wide enough walkways for a variety of size wheelchairs
  • No obstacles on these pathways
  • Wide doorways & turning areas, etc

The South African National Standard for Building Regulations

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations passes  laws that insure that new buildings & structures are designed & build with a certain regulations, which includes regulations on Accessible Routes.

There must be a means of access that is suitable for people with disabilities to use. In addition, access must be available from various approaches of the building via the main entrance and any secondary entrances, and should lead to the ground floor.

There must be a means of egress (a point of departure) that is suitable for people with disabilities to use in the event of any sort of emergency. This relates to any sort of emergency, but in addition, a further clause states that departure routes (or egress) must also be designed in accordance with Part T of the regulations, namely the section that relates to Fire Protection.

Unfortunately many buildings in South Africa were not designed and built to accommodate wheelchair users or the elderly. The owners of these buildings may therefore be challenged by the need to find architects and renovators familiar with accessible design issues in order to make them accessible. There are however various Organizations and Companies that can assist with Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues.

Organizations & Companies That Can Assist With Universal Design & Access

There are now various Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access and can advise you on how to adapt these Accessible Routes to make sure that persons with disabilities have equal rights and no loss of dignity. The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting specialize in Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. These Organizations and Companies can assist in different ways including:NCPD Logo

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD): believe that this can be prevented by applying Universal Design Principals during the design phase and they therefor offer the following services to assist:

  • Workshops for architects, developers and other building professionals to develop an understanding of universal design and access.
  • Facilitating access audits for new or existing buildings; echo e-access for the natural and communication environment. Audits are followed by a report indicating shortfalls and recommendations.
  • Marketing of facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities

Contact Fanie Swanepoel or Danie Marais for more information on Tel: +27 11 452 2774 or email them on: or

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Inclusive Design: is a company founded on the fundamentals of the South African Constitution and aims to serve as a driver of social inclusion for positive and effective change in the lives of people with diverse human needs. Our philosophy is guided by individual and shared needs of people and not that of special needs. Universal Design serves as a means in which to create and enhance the functionality of environments, services and products, for the widest range of users, recognizing diversity of the human condition. Inclusive Design as a company, recognises the importance of awareness raising and the dissemination of information on diversity and inclusion as an integral deliverable to achieve Universal Access and improving lives.Inclusive Design

What we do:

Inclusive Design serves as a mechanism to audit, review, design, create and advise on adaptations and/or enhancements for the functionality of environments, transport, technology, education, services and operations, and products for all users, to accommodate the full spectrum of human diversity. Inclusive Design specialises in providing practical, sensible advice on issues relating to Universal Access and works on the premise that environments, services and facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities are equitable in the eyes of the law, makes business sense, as well as being easier and more comfortable for all users, irrespective of their functional requirements.


Inclusive Design works with clients to find viable, feasible means of incorporating universal design into their environments, services, facilities and products. In a field of consulting where amateurs are rife and claim expertise, Inclusive Design has gone to great lengths to prove their competency on an international level. Headed by a consultant who is the highest certified Universal Access Consultant in South Africa, as verified by IAAP (International Association of Access Professionals) and with a plenary of examples and experience, Inclusive Design delivers, on time with exceptionally detailed results and recommendations. We put effort into making reports and findings legible, easy to understand and implementable to enable clients to positively affect change to becoming universally accessible and inclusive.


Inclusive Design

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Universal Access Consulting:

Consulting serves to advise clients on the options, requirements and areas where Universal Access can and should be achieved. With experience and knowledge of both South African building regulations for Persons with Disabilities, supporting equality legislation and international access requirements, Inclusive Design makes for the perfect collaborator to achieve Universal Access. Our consulting services serve to impart knowledge with clients on aspects, features and implementation of Universal Access to increase awareness of the requirements of people with disabilities as well as the broader range of beneficiaries including, pregnant women, people with young children, elderly people and people with temporary disabilities or recovering from surgery.

As part of our consulting services we also offer specific research, skills transfer and mentorship related to Universal Access and assist our clients wherever possible to progress towards a viable, feasible and desirable means of implementation to achieve equality. In line with the social model of disability, our emphasis has shifted away from the concept of being ‘disability’ focused, to that of being focused on ‘Universal Access’, which acknowledges that the benefit thereof goes beyond the classification of people with disabilities. Universal Access Consulting can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)
  • systems, services and operations
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and systems
  • Policy development, reviews and updates

Universal Access Auditing:

Universal Access Consulting

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Auditing is the examination or inspection of various aspects of the environment, service, facility or product to determine compliance with local and/or international requirements. Audits are conducted through physical inspection and are followed by reports to indicate short-falls, areas of improvement and areas of non-compliance. Universal Access Auditing is largely conducted in the built environment in South Africa, where SANS 10400 Part S (2011): Facilities for Persons with Disabilities is the deem to satisfy requirement, which is supplemented with ISO21542 in areas where more details are required or environments which are more specialised. This process is detailed, and the audit is conducted meticulously and often includes discussions with users of the facility regarding usability, which leads to a custom report with bespoke recommendations for both built infrastructure and operations.

Inclusive Design also offers companies an advantage through a proprietary Universal Access Application™ which enables large areas of the built environment to be audited in a systematic, accurate, thorough and detailed process (for example: a campus). Saving clients time and money as the UA App captures vast amounts of data, with measurements, photo evidence and SANS 10400 Part S (2011) compliance in an easy to read, tabulated format, in a matter of days. This process conventionally takes a vast number of human hours to capture, process and write-up by a highly experience UA Auditor, but with the Universal Access App™ it is simplified, quickened, accurate and unbiased. 

Universal Access Auditing can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)- with the UA App™
  • systems, services and operation
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and system
  • policy and implementation plans

Universal Access Awareness:

Universal Access Audits & Reviews

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

The Great Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is our belief, at Inclusive Design, that by teaching principles of good design, that we can make a significant impact upon our society. It is therefore always a recommended deliverable in our work to transfer skills and educate others on Universal Design and Universal Access. The capacitation of more people with the knowledge and understanding of the value that inclusive design offers to staff, clients and society, is part of our vision and what we strive to achieve. What we term Universal Access Awareness, can be customised to the clients’ needs, and can vary from an introductory presentation to an in-depth training session on specific aspects. Universal Access cannot be achieved without at least the basic understanding of the paradigm that leads to equality.

Additional Services:

  • Disability Awareness Training (also known as Disability Awareness Training or Sensitisation)
  • Disability Specific Monitoring and Evaluation (Qualified M and E services)

Business Competitiveness:

Universal Access is a broad concept that requires understanding, application, implementation, experience and governance around various sectors, such as the built environment, services, facilities, transport, technology, regulations and more. Inclusive Design has explicit experience in Policy, Guideline and Framework writing and advising, Technical Requirement writing, Implementation Plans, Onsite Auditing, Plan Drawing Auditing, Architectural and Planning Consulting, Auditing and Consulting in the realms of Transport, Marketing and Communication, and Training. Inclusive Design is not focused on a specific area of disability, and therefore offer holistic recommendations in order to accommodate a spectrum of users, irrespective of their abilities. Inclusive Design practice good business principles, deliver on time, communicate directly with clients, and offer superior project deliverables.

If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at Inclusive Design on Tel: +27 72 027 3623 or Email: Cape Town (HQ) ● Pretoria (Administration), or visit our website at:

These Organizations and Companies listed above which specialize in Universal Design and Access will follow those standards set by "The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act" to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues.

Regulations for Accessible Routes & Doorways

4.4 External and internal circulation

4.4.1 General An accessible route shall form part of an external and internal circulation route.

NOTE: The space allowances of this part of SANS 10400 should accommodate the use of self-propelled wheelchairs. The minimum dimensions might need to be increased to accommodate the full range of different types of wheelchair. At least one accessible route shall be provided within the boundary of the site from all public transportation stops, accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zones and public streets and pavements to the accessible building entrance which they serve and the facilities inside the building. There shall be a means of access suitable for use by persons with disabilities from the outside of the building to the ground storey. The clear width of the walking surfaces shall not be less than 900 mm (such as between bollards in parking areas, or between planters and seating) and shall not be reduced by protruding objects. If the clear width is less than 1,5 m, an accessible route shall be provided with passing spaces of 1,5 m × 1,5 m (minimum) at intervals not exceeding 5,0 m, or an intersection of two walking surfaces which provide a T-shaped space. Each accessible entrance to a building shall have at least one door or doorway in accordance with the requirements of 4.6.1. Revolving doors, revolving gates and turnstiles shall not form part of an accessible route. Pause areas, with suitable seating, shall be provided adjacent to an accessible route at intervals that do not exceed 25 m.

4.4.2 Turning spaces The turning space allowance, e.g. for a wheelchair, guide dog or person on crutches, shall be a minimum of 1,5 m in diameter, inclusive of any toe and knee clearances. Doors shall not be permitted to swing into the turning spaces.

4.4.3 Obstructions in the path of travel Protruding objects shall not reduce the clear width required for accessible routes. Hanging signs, lights, awnings and objects that protrude into circulation spaces shall have a clearance of at least 2 m above the trafficable surface. Windows and doors shall not open across a walkway, corridor, stair or ramp. Doorstops shall be so positioned that any door will open to its maximum, and that they will not create a hazard. Wall-mounted fire extinguishers, hose reels, telephones, litter bins and any other wall-mounted fittings shall

  1. be designed to be easily seen,
  2. be shielded or recessed to prevent injuries, and
  3. be accompanied by a feature that warns of the presence of the potential hazard and that is possible to detect by a person using a white cane or stick. A dished channel shall not be constructed within the boundaries of a path. A drainage grating that is within the boundaries of a path shall be set flush with the surface of the path. Such grating shall be placed so that its longitudinal elements are perpendicular to the main walking direction, and the gap between them shall not exceed 13 mm. Where identified parking for persons with disabilities is provided, a kerb cut that has a slip-resistant finish and gradient that does not exceed 1:12 shall be provided immediately adjacent to the bay (see figure 3).

NOTE 1 Kerb cuts should be provided where required, and in conjunction with pedestrian crossings, taxi and bus ranks and parking garages.

NOTE 2 The recommended surface between a pavement and roadway is a ramp fitted with tactile guidance surface indicators. This provides a safe and trafficable surface for wheelchair users, and a detectable surface to indicate to persons with visual impairments that they are leaving a pedestrian footpath and entering a traffic roadway.

4.5 Floor or ground surfaces

4.5.1 Floor and ground surfaces form an integral part of the accessible route throughout the site, both internally and externally, as part of the continuous path of travel. They shall be stable, firm and slip resistant (see SANS 784), under wet and dry conditions.

4.5.2 Carpet, carpet tiles or other floor finishes shall be securely attached and level across all types of pile. Pile height of carpets shall not exceed 3 mm.

4.5.3 Openings in the floor finish or ground surface shall not exceed 13 mm in diameter and, where the opening is elongated, the long dimension shall be placed perpendicular to the dominant direction of travel.

4.5.4 The vertical change in level between two floor surfaces, or at thresholds, shall have a flush finish and shall not exceed 5 mm in height.

4.5.5 Where a surface is cambered for drainage purposes, the camber shall not exceed 1:50 (see figure 4).

4.5.6 Cobbles (whether fixed or loose), gravel sand and other raised or loose finishes shall not form part of an accessible route.

4.6 Doorways, doors and door handles

4.6.1 Doorways and doors Doorways shall allow free access for wheelchair users. The clear opening shall be at least 750 mm when approached along a line that is perpendicular to the opening, as shown in figure 5.

NOTE It is recommended that, where possible, the clear opening width should be 800 mm. Where a two-leaf door is used, the clear opening provided by the leading leaf shall be at least 750 mm, as shown in figure 6, when approached along a line perpendicular to the opening. Minimum access dimensions to enable wheelchair users to make 90° turns, shall be as shown in figure 7. Where a person in a wheelchair is required to open a door towards the wheelchair, a nib of at least 450 mm shall be provided at the handle side of the door, as shown in figure 8. The minimum distance between doors shall be as shown in figures 9 and 10. Sliding doors may be installed in places where a hinged door would hinder circulation or manoeuvrability. Where revolving doors, turnstiles or other barriers are installed, an alternative means of access shall be installed.

NOTE 1: Doors are a hindrance and their use should be avoided. Where doors cannot be avoided, for example, in a route used for emergency egress, doors should be held open by a mechanism that is safe, comfortable and convenient for persons with disabilities to operate, such as magnetic closers.

NOTE 2: Frequently used doors, such as main entrance self-closing doors, should preferably open automatically and be equipped with a fail-safe system that enables the door to open under emergency conditions

4.6.2 Door handles A handle fitted to a door leaf of a door in an emergency route or in a feeder route or in any compartment containing toilet facilities for use by persons with disabilities, shall be of the lever type, with a lever at least 150 mm long, and shall be installed at a height that does not exceed 1,0 m above floor level. Round door knobs do not provide an adequate grip for persons with impaired dexterity and shall be avoided. All doors shall be openable with one hand. All door handles shall be horizontally aligned. Door furniture with sharp protruding edges is hazardous and shall not be used.

4.7 Changes in level

4.7.1 In trafficable areas for public use, any changes in level shall comply with the requirements of SANS 10400-D, and with the requirements given in 4.7.2 and 4.7.3.

4.7.2 A raised kerb, not less than 75 mm high, or a skirting rail not more than 300 mm high, measured vertically above the surface, shall be provided on exposed sides of any ramp, stairway, balcony or any similar area where a change in level occurs.

4.7.3 Where a change in level of more than 600 mm occurs, a handrail shall also be provided.


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