24 April 2018

Features of a disabled friendly hospital

A disabled friendly hospital is one which enables people with disabilities to freely and safely move and access facilities within the hospital. Such hospital building provides an environment of independence to individuals with disability, which is their right granted under Persons with disability act, 2016. Patient with a disability is considered as a vulnerable patient and hospitals are required to take care of their safety. Being disabled friendly uplifts the image of a hospital and is also expected by various accreditation agencies.

So what are those features that makes a hospital, ‘disabled friendly’? Well, such hospital building typically accounts for the need of two kinds of disabilities, i.e. loco-motor disability and visual disability. People with loco-motor disability will either be on wheelchair or crutches and which requires a disabled friendly hospital to make its interior easily accessible for wheelchair. People with limited vision will need mechanism to understand ways and areas within the hospital. This is typically achieved by strategically placing tactile floor (guiding block) and using braille, which the visually disabled person can sense.

Here is a list of features that goes into making of a disabled friendly hospital.

Entrances of the hospital
1.       The doorways in the entrances should open sufficiently (at-least 35 inches wide) to allow easy wheelchair movement through it.
Tactile floor / Guiding block
2.       The entrances should be accessible with pathways. If there is a step or kerb to access entrance, a step ramp must be provided 

3.       The entrances shall be provided with tactile floor for blind people
4.       The door knob of the entrance (where equipped) shall not be located higher than 1.2 meters from the floor, for a wheelchair bound patient to control it. The doors shall also open easily on slight push.

Pathways / corridors
1.       The pathways are at-least 1-meter-wide for easy movement of wheelchair and people on crutches
Step Ramp
2.       Tactile floor shall be placed on pathways for blind people. Guiding block shall be used at turning points.
3.       If the corridor is long, provision for seating must be made for people on crutches to rest
4.       Pathways shall be devoid of any in between steps. In case a step in unavoidable, step ramp must be provided 

1.       Tactile floor must be located around 16 inches before start of staircase (both at upper and lower end of the staircase)
2.       The first and last step of the staircase shall have a bright coloured paint line and an embossing for people with low vision. 
3.       A continuous handrail must be provided throughout the staircase. The height of the handrail shall be maintained at 35 inches from the floor. A minimum gap of 2 inches must be maintained between adjacent wall and the rails of the staircase. The rails shall extend for 12 inches on level floor after staircase ends
4.       The height of each step shall not be more than 6 inches. The length of each step shall be not less than 12 inches.

1.       Ramps access must be provided to areas within the hospital where a patient may need to go, if the elevator access is not provided.
2.       The ramps must be at-least 1.8 meter wide.
3.       The gradient (slope) of the ramp shall be not more than 1:12, i.e. 1 unit of rise for every 12 unit of distance.
4.       Double hand rails must be provided on both sides, at a height of 31 inches and 35 inches. A minimum gap of 2 inches must be maintained between adjacent wall and the rails of the ramp. The rails shall extend for 12 inches on level floor after ramp ends
5.        The length of the ramp shall not extend more than 9 meters at one continuous stretch.
6.        A flat surface landing space shall be provided at beginning and end of the ramp and after every 9-meter length of the ramp. The flat surface shall be of minimum 1.5-meter length.
7.       Step ramp must be provided wherever ramp crosses a step or a kerb

1.       The signage shall be clearly seen by all people. Important signage such as emergency department and emergency exit routes shall be illuminated
2.       The signage shall be marked with universal symbols
3.       Important instructions for patients/public must also be displayed in braille and at a height at which it can be easily touched by a sitting person
4.       Contrast colours of text and background shall be used
5.       The font size of text in signage shall be adjusted as per the estimated distance from which it will be viewed. Below table can be used as reference
Viewing distance (meters)
Height of the letters in text (mm)

Elevators (Lifts)
1.       The door of the elevator shall open wide enough (at-least 35 inches). The internal width and depth of elevators shall be as per the capacity.
2.       Inside elevator a handrail must be provided at a height of around 1 meter.
3.       The time of an automatically closing door of lift shall be minimum 5 seconds
4.       The buttons and switches inside lift shall be accessible by a wheelchair bound patient
5.       The numbers on switches shall be embossed for a blind person to sense

1.       There shall be separate toilets for people with disabilities. At-least one such toilet on every floor shall be provided. The number must be increased if the floor is large or has high occupancy
2.       Minimum size of the toilet shall be 1.5 x 1.75 meters
3.       The door of toilet shall open at-least 1 meter wide. The door shall swing out
4.       Vertical and horizontal handrails with 2 inches clearance from wall must be provided inside toilets
5.       The W.C. height shall be 20 inches from ground
6.        The toilet floor shall be non-slippery or fitted with anti-skid mats
7.       The WC shall be installed with water jet
8.       A call alarm switch shall be installed in these toilets to call for help, if required. The switch shall be close to ground level
9.       There shall be sufficient space adjacent to W.C. for parking wheelchair and shifting

Other considerations
1.       The flooring of the areas that are accessed by public shall be made up of non-slippery materials
2.       Sufficient seating provision shall be made at waiting areas. Reserved seating for people with disabilities shall be provided. These seats shall be firm and shall allow for the person to easily stand from it
3.       Sufficient space shall be provided in-front of drinking water equipment. The height of tap shall be accessible for wheelchair bound patient
4.       Dedicated parking space for people with disabilities shall be provided. These parking spots shall be as near to the entrance as possible.