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Suggested Guidelines for Accessible Housing

Note* These guidelines are only suggested. There may be certain situations in which these guidelines may not be appropriate.



A. Above Ground:

  1. Should be located close to entrance without steps or other obstacles between the lot and entrance way. Any curbs should be ramped.
  2. Should be signed for persons with disabilities using International Symbol of Access and words "Reserved Parking" on sign mounted at 6' above the ground.
  3. Stalls should be twelve (12') feet wide minimum for an individual using a wheelchair. The recommended number of handicapped stalls in both visitor and assigned parking should be 3 to 5 per cent of stalls or in accordance with the number of designated suites.
  4. If possible parking stalls should be positioned in such a manner that individuals using wheelchairs, braces, or crutches do not have to walk or wheel behind parked cars.
  5. Where parking lot space is restricted, parking for a person with a disability should be located adjacent to walks or driveways or at the end of rows so that the standard size parking spaces can be utilized to accommodate.

B. Below Ground:

  1. Preferred 8' feet (minimum of 6' - 6")in height for van clearance.
  2. The preferred grade of the ramp approach is l in 12 (minimum of l in l0) preferably protected or covered.
  3. Preferably stalls should be 12 feet wide (minimum recommended width 11 feet) for individuals who use a wheelchair. Recommended number of handicapped stalls should be in accordance with the number of designated suites.
  4. Locate handicapped parking close to elevator with signage as described above.
  5. Access to the basement elevator should be level or ramped with two (2) feet latch side clearance. Consider also the pressure of the door closure and the key height (an automatic or power assisted door may be considered if the door is exceptionally heavy).


A. Curb Loading Area:

  1. Use a minimum loading pad 6' curb length of a hard surface to connecting curb and sidewalk.

B. Ramps:

  1. If steps are present, should also have a ramp with a grade of l in l2 (minimum of 1 in 10). If runs exceed 30 feet you will require a resting platform and straight clearance at the top of the ramp (minimum 5') and level areas at top, bottom and all turns. For heights less than 7" further information is available.
  2. Ramps with a grade of 1 in 12 must have one handrail, and ramps with a grade of 1 in 10 should have two handrails. These hand-rails should be placed at 2 feet 8 inches, & a lower guard rail should be centred at 7 inches; consider extending hand rails.
  3. The ramp should be constructed of a non-slip surface, i.e. broomed surface if the ramp is concrete.
  4. Maximum 1/2 inch bevelled threshold with 5 feet by 5 feet level platform in front of doors and top of ramps.


A. Apartment Block Entrance Doorway:

  1. Entrance doorway should be 36" wide with a trip lock and bar release.
  2. Vestibule depth should be a minimum of 6 feet 6 inches in length. If pressure mats are required for doors increase the depth of the vestibule to the combined length of the mats plus 12 inches minimum.
  3. Vestibule width for one door should be at least five feet to accommodate two wheelchairs and seven feet for two doors.
  4. Key height should not exceed 42 inches; lower if possible. Locate lever type handle 36 inches to 38 inches above floor. Consider remote or power assist for exterior door.

B. Exterior Suite Door:

  1. The entrance door width should be 36 inches preferred to 34 inches minimum, Use a 12 inch kick plate on the exterior of the door. Key height should not exceed 42 inches (consider provisions for automatic opening door AND electric door lock).
  2. Use a lever type handle and a second pull handle should be located 8 inches from the hinge side of the door to assist in closing the door 32 inches to 36 inches above the floor.

C. Other Apartment Doors:

  1. All other doors should have two feet of latch side clearance on the pull side of the door (Minimum suggested is l8 inches) and at least 2 feet 8 inches wide with 30 inch clear opening.
  2. Pocket doors are preferred providing latches and operators are useable.
  3. Lever handle should be substituted for knob handles on all doors, and a second handle should be placed 8 inches from hinge side on door to assist in closing the door, 32 inches to 36 inches above floor.

D. Balcony Door:

  1. Swing out patio doors are preferred with a maximum half inch bevelled threshold include lever and second pull handle.


A. Entrance Intercom System:

  1. Operating part should be located between 3 feet(36") and 4 feet, 3 inches(51") above the floor (Suggesed 24 inches to 55 inches)
  2. If possible button should be raised or recessed for tactile identification or have tactile numbers/letters placed beside them.

B. Interior Intercom:

  1. Should be located 36 - 42" from floor in apartment entrance hallway.
  2. Try to make provision for a second apartment block intercom to be installed in the master bedroom. This unit would not be wall mounted but instead fits into a box to allow the unit to be portable. The unit would be connected through a terminal strip located in the master bedroom. Controls for the electric lock of the apartment door entrance could also be connected to this intercom box. Please consult further for details.


  1. The highest key level for a mailbox should be placed at 51" and no lower than 24".
  2. The numbers on the mailbox should be large and in contrasting colours to the mailbox.
  3. The numbers should be raised or indented.


  1. Elevators are preferred for more than a one storey building.
  2. The minimum depth of the platform is 4'3", and minimum width of 6' 0". This is to accommodate two wheelchairs. (C.M.H.C.'s recommendation 4' 10" by 7'.)
  3. In cab controls should be located between 3'0" and 4'0" from floor and l5" from corner. (C.M.H.C. recommends no higher than 5l"). Consider putting controls on side wall.
  4. The outside call button should be centred 40" above floor.
  5. The elevator door should have reversing safety edges, and preferably equipped with a photo-electric cell located 20" - 24" above the floor.
  6. Control buttons should be 5/8 of an inch in diameter preferably square with indented, or raised figures beside them.
  7. A flat handrail should be placed on at least one wall of the elevator at approximately 32" no deeper than 1 1/2".
  8. Minimum clear opening for the door should be 32".
  9. Should have a time adjustable latency for door closure. The door should remain open for a minimum of 5 seconds and then should close slowly.


  1. Should be 5' in width to accommodate two wheelchairs.
  2. Should be a slip resistant surface and a high lighting level.


  1. Direct glue down level loop high density carpeting, no pad.


A. Light Switches:

  1. Light switches should be mounted between 36" and 40" from the floor.

B. Outlets:

  1. Outlets should not be less than 20" from the floor.

C. Heating and Air Conditioning:

  1. Heat Controls should be at 36"- 42" from the floor preferably lever or push-button control.

D. Windows:

  1. Windows should be operational from a sitting position. Window sills should be approximately 2' - 8" from the floor.
  2. Casement windows are easier to handle than sliding or double hung.


  1. Closet rods should be no higher than 54" from the floor, 52" preferred.
  2. Closet doors should be bi-fold, accordion or sliding doors.
  3. Consider adjustable or pull-out shelving.


A. Counter:

  1. Consider counters mounted on adjustable wall brackets, so that they may be modified for both the able-bodied and handicapped population. The desirable height of counters for the handicapped population is 34".
  2. 8" to l0" of toe space is needed.

B. Upper Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Upper Kitchen cabinets should be movable with adjustable wall brackets in the handicapped suite. Recommended height for handicapped individuals is 44".

C. Sinks:

  1. Use an offset trap at least 6" to the rear, trap and drain should be insulated.
  2. Use a 4" flexible pipe in plumbing to allow for adjustable counter height.
  3. Use a single lever side mounted faucet set.
  4. There should be 2' - 4" high minimum and if possible 36" wide of knee space under the sink. (minimum 30" in width)
  5. Leave cupboard doors in front of the sink and use a removable shelf.

D. Outlets:

  1. Provide a single duplex outlet on the front of the counter preferably near the stove.

E. Appliances:

  1. Appliances should have front mounted controls; consider 34" high stove.
  2. Consider a counter top range and separate oven with side hinge door and side by side fridge and freezer.

F. Shelving and Drawers:

  1. Mount drawers on slide out roller bearing unit. Use drawers of varying depth.
  2. Try to make a pantry with a lazy susan, or pull out shelves.
  3. Consider a corner lazy susan.

G. Hardware:

  1. Hardware should be easily operated. Recommend plain loop handles with approximately l inch of finger space.


A. Bathtub:

  1. OPTIONAL: Raise bathtub to height of 22" with an open space underneath the bathtub at least 36" wide, six inches high and as deep as possible. Consider using a board to cover this space.
  2. Use a hand-held shower in tub with second holder placed on side wall within reach of user, should be a lightweight unit with an on/off control, hose length minimum 5' preferably 6', and a sliding mount holder.
  3. Single lever thermostatic mixing valve is preferred.
  4. Provide minimum of 1/2" plywood backing for grab bars in tub recess.

B. Medicine Chest:

  1. If possible locate medicine cabinet on adjacent wall to sink with mirror placed above sink.
  2. Locate bottom shelf of medicine chest or mirror 36" - 40" off floor.
  3. Locate power outlet by sink and consider shelving if vanity is removed.

C. Sink:

  1. Mount top of sink at 33" from the floor using a space saver sink or a wall hung sink with brackets and an offset trap.
  2. Faucet set should be single lever if separate hot/cold use 2 1/2" blade handle

D. Toilet:

  1. Provide a minimum of 1/2" plywood backing for grab bars beside toilet. Wall hung toilets are preferred.
  2. Heavy Duty toilet seats with a front opening design are also preferred.
  3. Standard toilet height of approximately 14" should be used. If possible avoid the recessed toilet paper holder and locate the toilet paper holder on adjacent wall to toilet within 3 inches of the seat edge.
  4. Consider adequate space both in front of the toilet and on one side to enable both sliding and pivot transfer.


  1. Be aware of 5' turning space for bedroom layout.


  1. Ensure adequate turning space of 5' diameter.
  2. Railings should be designed to allow a view with both a horizontal and vertical component. Consider a horizontal element no higher than 32".


  1. Garbage Room Doors & Chutes: check for accessibility and usage.
  2. Washer and dryers:

What the person has to do; (practical assessment)

  1. Entrance

  2. Buttons

  3. Elevator

  4. Apartment door

  5. Storage shelf

  6. Bathroom

  7. Bedroom

  8. Heat and light switches

  9. Kitchen

  10. Living room

  11. Laundry Room

  12. Garbage Room

  13. Car Park

  14. Grocery

  15. Curbs

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