The “36 inch” Rule

Simple guidelines help to make accessibility seem achievable. Spaces that need to be used by a variety of individuals, including offices, restaurants, and public places, often present barriers to people who use mobility devices. Even if certain minimum requirements have been adhered to, such as enabling entry through the use of a ramp, interior spaces may be clutters and walkways blocked by furniture or other large items or fixtures. A useful standard is the "36 inch" rule.

All interior pathways should be at least 36 inches wide in order to allow for individuals with mobility devices to travel and maneuver easily. Legislation often requires that doorways be at least 32 inches wide, but 36 is preferable to allow for people using different sizes of wheelchair to pass through readily. If barriers are cleared, individuals using mobility devices will not have to make a specific request or ask for assistance to move something.

A walk-through of an office or other space should also involve looking at signage, lighting, and surface heights as well as pathways. Many checklists exist that offer simple guidelines for improving accessibility including the checklist of "fast facts" here. By keeping in mind the 36 inch rule, you can minimize barriers and help all users of a space to traverse pathways easily.