Guidelines and standards for accessibility

It is essential that a policy commitment to accessibility is supported with clear practical guidance on standards for design of infrastructure.

Resources below provide overall standards and guidelines to design and implement accessible infrastructure in developing countries. There is also a range of manuals and guidelines for designing and implementing accessible infrastructure which have been developed for specific thematic areas, such as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Inclusive Education, Health, Disaster Risk Reduction and Conflict Situations. Case studies on good practice will also be provided as they become available.

See also: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Education, Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Reduction and Inclusive Elections (accessible polling places).

Hugues Nouvellet (2014) Conduct an Accessibility Audit in Low and Middle-Income Countries: Practical Guide 13 PDF

This guide to the implementation of an accessibility audit in low- and middle-income countries outlines key stages in an accessibility audit and provides examples on how people with disabilities and partners can conduct and report on accessibility. The guide is in two parts, the first part provides definitions and related concepts, issues and challenges relating to accessibility, the principles of intervention and the scope. The second part is a practical guide which advises each stage of the audit: preparation, execution and implementation.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (updated regularly)

This website contains a wide range of standards on accessibility, including those relating to the physical environment or information and communication technology, to improve accessibility for everyone. ISOs are developed through a consensus process by experts from all over the world. Current standards include ISO 21542: Building construction - Accessibility and usability of the built environment (2011); ISO Guide 71: Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities (2001); ISO 70001:2007 Graphical symbols-Public information symbols; ISO 9241-171 Ergonomics of human-system interactions, Part 171 guidance on Software accessibility (2008). These are useful documents to refer government and policy makers to as they outline requirements and recommendations to accessible environments. Note these are only available via purchase of a subscription.

Whitzman C, James K and Powaseu I (2013) Travelling together: Improving the access of people with disability to road infrastructure in Papua New Guinea (Word 1.5 MB, PDF 190 KB)

This research policy brief is informed by the results of a participatory research project into access to road infrastructure by persons with disabilities in Papua New Guinea. It presents key access issues and makes policy and program recommendations relevant for donors and organisations implementing projects that impact on road users, both in PNG and other settings.

AusAID (2013) Accessibility Design Guide: Universal design principles for Australia's aid program, registration number 13 (Word 4 MB, PDF 1 MB)

This manual sets out how universal design is relevant to the Australian Aid management cycle. It highlights the central role that persons with disabilities and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) should play in development actions which target the built environment. It includes a range of practical strategies that development practitioners can consider when applying universal design in a range of development sectors, including health, education, transport and rural development.

Humanity & Inclusion (2008) How to build an accessible environment in developing countries (PDF 1.9 MB – 2.6 MB)

This series of four manuals is based on Handicap International’s experience in Cambodia. They provide information on technical specifications and approaches to low resource settings which would be relevant for program planners and service providers.

Venter C et al (2004) Overseas Road Note 21: Enhancing the mobility of disabled people: guidelines for practitioners (PDF 3226 KB)

This manual provides examples of good practice and technical guidance for improving access to transport for persons with disabilities. It also provides information on how to involve persons with disabilities and examples of how disability advocacy groups have been successfully involved in road and transport programs. The guide would be useful to policy makers, planners, engineers, government officials, and transport operators in developing countries to improve understanding of the role that persons with disabilities can play; and to persons with disabilities involved in planning and carrying out advocacy for accessible transport infrastructure. Note this was written prior to the UNCRPD, and references to international commitments are outdated.

Humanity & Inclusion (2009) Accessibility: How to design and promote an environment accessible to all (PDF 688 KB)

This policy paper is based on the practice and experience acquired by Handicap International in designing and promoting accessible environments since 2003. Though it provides guidance for Handicap International’s own programs, it also outlines strategies to address accessibility at a program level including monitoring and evaluation indicators, partnerships and human resources. It is useful for program managers within international development programs, and organisations involved in program reviews.

Making it Work: Good practices for disability inclusive development - Good practice database (updated regularly)

This database is a collection of good practice case studies on how to implement the UNCRPD. The database can be searched via UNCRPD Articles and key words. Case studies outline good practices, how changes were achieved and how they could be replicated. There are currently a number of case studies related to accessible infrastructure.

Leonard Cheshire Disability and IFRTD (2008) A research case study on accessible transport and health of disabled persons in rural areas of India (video)

This video, created by Leonard Cheshire Disability and IFRTD, highlights the barriers faced by persons with disabilities when trying to access public transport and (inaccessible) health service buildings in India. It could be used by DPOs and development practitioners to demonstrate the need to provide for accessible infrastructure, to enable persons with disabilities to access services.

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
Picture of a man in a wheelchair stopped at a curb. Another man is bending over measuring the curb height with a tape measure.

Photo: Benjamin Dard, 2011

Accessibility Audits in the urban environment: In order to sensitize architects and engineers, CBM Haiti’s accessibility program conducted disability simulation exercises in the urban environment using accessibility audits to identify physical and attitudinal barriers (Port-au-Prince, Haiti). Copyright: CBM