Standards and guidelines for accessibility (Additional references)

Principles of universal design and guidelines

The following are the Principles of Universal Design and their accompanying Guidelines.

Principle One: Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.


  1. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
  2. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
  3. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
  4. Make the design appealing to all users.

Principle Two: Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.


  1. Provide choice in methods of use.
  2. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
  3. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
  4. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.

Principle Three: Simple and Intuitive Use

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.


  1. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  2. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
  3. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
  4. Arrange information consistent with its importance.
  5. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

Principle Four: Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.


  1. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
  2. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
  3. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
  4. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
  5. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.

Principle Five: Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.


  1. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
  2. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
  3. Provide fail safe features.
  4. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.

Principle Six: Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.


  1. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
  2. Use reasonable operating forces.
  3. Minimize repetitive actions.
  4. Minimize sustained physical effort.

Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.


  1. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
  2. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
  3. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
  4. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.

The following are some examples of applications of the Principles of Universal Design©:

  • curb cuts aid many people including people who use wheelchairs, people with strollers, people with luggage on wheels;
  • large print pamphlets and documents are easier to read by everyone;
  • low buttons and slots on vending machines make them accessible to everyone including people in wheelchairs, children, and people of short stature;
  • low floor buses are easier to use by everyone including children, seniors, and people carrying packages; and
  • individual washroom facilities accommodate the needs of persons who use wheelchairs and/or attendants and also provide benefits to parents travelling with young children of the opposite sex, offering changing room facilities and amenities for families.

List of Canadian Standards Association accessibility standards

Accessible Design for the Built Environment
Accessible Design for Self-Service Interactive Devices
Accessible Design for Automated Banking Machines
Customer Service Standard for People with Disabilities
Inclusive Design for an Aging Population
Electrical Aids for Physically Disabled Persons
Lifts for Persons with Physical Disabilities
Motor Vehicles for the Transportation of Persons with Physical Disabilities
Transportable Mobility Aids

Partial list of items included in CAN/CSA-B651 Accessible Design for the Built Environment

General requirements

  • Area allowances (size of clear floor area)
  • Operating controls (including height, operation, settings, displays, lighting, colour contrast, signage)
  • Floor and ground surfaces (including changes in level, carpeting, gratings)
  • Protrusion hazards (including protruding objects, width, height, overhead hazards)

Interior requirements

  • Circulation (including accessible routes, lineup guides, detectable floor and ground surfaces, hazard indicators, direction indicators, doors and doorways, handrails, stairs, ramps, elevating devices, emergency and security)
  • Drinking fountains
  • Washroom facilities (including stalls, urinals, lavatories, grab bars, and accessories)
  • Communications (including assistive listening systems, public telephones, TTYs, and signage)
  • Seating (including spaces at tables and counters, and rest area seating)

Vehicular access

  • Parking (including signage, designated parking, ticketing/payment machines and passenger pick-up areas)

Exterior requirements

  • Accessible routes
  • Stairs
  • Ramps
  • Signage
  • Lighting
  • Pedestrian crossings
  • Rest area seating

Note: The annexes contain information on:

Annex A: Environmental considerations (including wayfinding, acoustics, lighting and indoor air quality)

Annex B: Anthropometrics

Annex C: Wheeled mobility devices

Annex D: Potential for slip of floor and tread finishes

Annex E: Elevator requirements for persons with physical disabilities

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