Updated: Jul 31
What is it?
A barrier-free path of travel is any space in a public facility where people move from one point to another that is free of obstructions and blocks. It’s essential to pay attention to the design of paths of travel when considering people with disabilities. An accessible route will allow them to navigate public spaces safely and independently.
A barrier-free path of travel must extend from a barrier-free entrance into and throughout all normally occupied floor areas and usually includes the use of ramps and elevators.
How does it help?
An accessible route allows people who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers, and those with visual impairments and blindness to navigate public spaces safely and independently. Needing to detour or find alternative routes is time and energy-consuming, so ensuring workspaces have permanently available barrier-free paths of travel is crucial.
Barrier-free path of travel can help employees with:
Wheelchairs & Mobility Aids
While non-wheelchair users can easily walk over or around obstacles, people who use wheelchairs and mobility aids have more difficulty with these, and barrier-free accessible routes are essential. Obstructions to workplace pathways like boxes and office supplies and narrow hallways limit both safety and independence for mobility aid users. Keep hallways and floors clear at all times, and ensure all building door frames are at least 38 inches wide to allow for seamless wheelchair access.
Visual Impairments and Blindness
Barrier-free paths of travel are crucial for employees with visual impairments and blindness. Since people with low vision may navigate spaces using a cane or “trailing,” placing their hand against the wall, keep hallways and floors clear. Tape down the edges of any rugs that may cause someone to trip, and keep doors either propped all the way open or fully closed.
Looking for more detailed information on workplace adjustments?
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues. Serving customers across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years, JAN provides free practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.
Do you want to be a more inclusive and accessible employer?
Take this 15-minute Disability Inclusive Employer Self-Assessment to gain a deeper understanding of where you’re doing well and where there’s room to improve.
Open Door Group and Presidents Group collaborated on this tool, created from recent international research on practices that truly increase inclusion and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace.