Clearing Our Path

Creating accessible environments ­for people with vision loss

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Home > Design Needs > Exterior Design Elements > Building Entrances

Building Entrances

Entrances to public buildings must be easy for people to identify. A variety of elements can be used to help people with vision loss quickly identify an exterior entrance:

Signs: The building’s name and address should appear on an exterior sign that includes visual and raised print and braille. The sign should comply with the design requirements for signage. For larger buildings, large signs should be incorporated into the landscaping leading to the main entrance. Because of their distance from paths of travel, these signs do not require raised print or braille.

Emerging technology is available which allows people with vision loss to read signs from afar using their smartphone, which receives information via Bluetooth from a beacon installed on or near the sign.

If some entrance doors to a building are not accessible, there should be signage at all doors indicating where an accessible entrance is located.

Door frames: All door frames should be colour contrasted to the walls or surfaces around them.

Landmarks: Planters and columns can draw attention to the main entrance. Plants can be positioned to guide the direction of travel towards the entrance.

Recessed entrances: A recessed entrance is easier for a long cane user to detect. It can also create an acoustically different space, making the entrance easier to locate for people with vision loss.

Change in surface texture: The approach to a building entrance can be marked with a different ground surface. For example, interlocking stone can intersect with a concrete sidewalk to mark the place to make a 90-degree turn to reach the entrance. The interlocking stone should be detectable with a cane and underfoot.

Audible cues: Audible signs (discussed in Signage) and other audible cues, such as music, can be used to draw attention to a building’s entrance.

Where there is a row of doors to individual businesses that blend with the surrounding wall along a building line, it’s important to clearly identify each door. For example, use colour-contrasting doors, doormats outside each door, or a textured and colour-contrasted walking surface leading up to each door. Signage that incorporates visual and tactile information should also be provided at each door.