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person who is blind with cane walking toward street indicator

Offices, parks, health care facilities, schools, or any other public spaces should be built to meet the needs of all of the people who will use the space. In addition, web pages, brochures, and other information should be accessible to people with disabilities.

Examples of accessibility:

  • Parking spaces are close to entrances.
  • Public transportation is accessible to people who use wheelchairs.
  • Streets with crosswalk signals sound a “beep” for people with vision loss.
  • There are clear routes to exits in emergency situations.
  • Floor spaces and hallways are free of equipment and other barriers.
  • Counters and service windows are low enough for everyone to reach, including people who use wheelchairs.
  • Alarm systems can be both seen and heard.
  • Staff and health care professionals can use sign language or have access to someone who can use sign language.
  • Videos on the web have captioning or written versions for people with hearing loss.
  • Print materials and signs are in large size font for people with low vision.
  • Raised lettering and Braille are used on signs, such as those on elevators.

Health Care

Sometimes, we take things for granted — like being able to open a door, climb stairs, fill out a form, or see or hear someone. For people with disabilities, getting health care can be difficult because of lack of access.

Access can include parking spaces close to entrances, well-placed ramps or curb cuts, and doors that are wide and easy to open so that people with disabilities can get into buildings. Once inside, people with disabilities need access to counters and exam tables that are low enough to reach, print that is large enough to read, and equipment that is easy to use.

Video: Mark’s Story

This video tells the story of Mark and his role as a person helping future health care providers improve their care of people with disabilities. The intent of this video is not to endorse specific activities, but to share one man's story, experience, and hope.

Health Care Guidelines

Removing Barriers to Health Care: A Guide for Health Professionals
This document provides guidelines and recommendations to help health care professionals ensure equal use of the facility and services by all their patients. The information in this guide gives health care providers a better understanding of how to improve not only the physical environment (e.g., doors, sidewalks, steps, etc.), but also their personal interactions with patients with disabilities. There is also a review of some of the design standards established through state and federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which health care professionals need to know. This document is from the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health and the Center for Universal Design.

More information for health care providers »

Universal Design

Door lock with keys in itThe intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the physical environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities.

Using universal design and architectural accessibility features helps people live independent lives. An example is using door handles instead of round door knobs that are easy for people with arthritis to use. Universal design can also help people without a disability. For example, a house entrance without a step helps parents with a baby stroller.

For more information:

Center for Universal Design

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access

Additional Accessibility Checklists and Guidelines

Buildings and Facilities

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
This document contains technical and legal requirements for accessibility to buildings and facilities by individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

U.S. Access Board
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology. It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and on accessible design, and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities.

Recreation and Fitness

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD): AIMFREE Manuals
NCPAD’s AIMFREE (Accessibility Instruments Measuring Fitness and Recreation Environments) Manuals are a series of measures that can be used to assess the accessibility of recreation and fitness facilities, including fitness centers and swimming pools.

Removing Barriers to Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities: A Guide for Accommodating All Members, Including People with Disabilities and Older Adults
This guide provides ways you can make a health club's facility and services more accessible to all people, including people with disabilities and older adults. Illustrations demonstrate how barriers in the physical environment can be removed and how exercise equipment and programs can be designed to create a welcoming facility. This document is from the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health and the Center for Universal Design.

Universal playgroundAccessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities
These guidelines from the U.S. Access Board serve as the basis for standards for new construction and alterations of recreation facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas
These guidelines from the U.S. Access Board serve as the basis for standards for newly constructed and altered play areas.

Livable Communities

Recommendations for Making Livable Communities Reality
This report developed by the National Council on Disability identifies barriers to developing livable communities and sheds light on potential methods for overcoming these barriers.

Community Health
This CDC webpage provides links to information on such things as designing and building healthy places, working to build healthy communities, and the health communities program.

Building Inclusive and Sustainable Communities Free From Discrimination
This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development webpage provides information on a strategic plan and goals for creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality, affordable homes for all.

Meetings and Conferences

Removing Barriers: Planning Meetings that are Accessible to all Participants
This document provides guidelines and strategies to help organizations make their meetings accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities. This document is from the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health and the Center for Universal Design.

Hotels and Motels

Checklist for Hotels and Motels
This checklist from the American Foundation for the Blind provides practical, cost-effective solutions concerning access to hotel services and facilities by your guests who are blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Office on Disability Transportation Resources
This website provides information on road travel, air travel, and train travel for people with disabilities.

United We Ride: Transportation Services
This website provides information aimed at improving the availability, quality, and efficient delivery of transportation services for older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes.

The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities
This document from the National Council on Disability provides information on access to transportation and mobility for people with disabilities, including access to traditional public transportation systems, private transportation services, alternative transportation initiatives, and the pedestrian environment.

Communication Materials

Removing Barriers: Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication
This booklet is an easy-to-read, quick reference guide that addresses the basics on ways to effectively communicate and interact with people with disabilities. It provides information and tips that can be incorporated in the workplace as well as in daily community living. This booklet is from the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health.

Section 508 Law
Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.

Section 508 - Why Comply?
Web communications policies, standards, and guidelines that relate to Section 508.

Web Accessibility Guidelines
These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for all web content developers (page authors and site designers) and for developers of authoring tools. This is from the World Wide Web Consortium.

Designing More Usable Websites
This website from the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides information, tools, and resources for building a more usable web for all people.

Pew Internet Reports
Pew produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. Report related to disability: U.S. adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet (62% vs. 81%), according to a new report. [Read report]

Guidelines for Reporting and Writing About People With Disabilities Brochure - 7th Edition
This brochure offers preferred language, style, and appropriate portrayals of people with disabilities and reflects input from over 100 national disability groups.

Accessible Digital Media Guidelines
This website describes educational needs of students with disabilities and how those needs may be met with software, digital books and other technologies. These guidelines also look at ways to achieve the goal of helping students learn while using adaptive and accessible technology.