Barrier-free building

Accessibility concerns the whole life: places, spaces and also means of communication. If these cannot be used barrier-free, those affected - these can be old and young people with disabilities or temporary restrictions - are unable to participate in cultural and political life as well as in work and leisure. Accessibility concerns us all. Why? Only 4% of all disabilities are congenital, and most of them are caused by illness or accidents. And: about a quarter of people with severe disabilities are 75 years and older, half are 55 to 75 years old. And the average age is rising - for everyone. *

Accessibility means much more than just ramps, wide doors and low-floor buses. For a barrier-free life, buildings and squares, work and home, means of transport and objects, services and leisure activities must be accessible to everyone without assistance. This includes elevators and ramps, but also forms in simple language, sign language interpreters and digital accessibility. Of course, accessibility helps everyone: The elevator is used by people with walking disabilities as well as parents with strollers, and easy language helps people with learning disabilities as well as those who do not speak or understand the language well.

Barrier-free building

The urbanization of public space also means minimizing dangers for all people. The general understanding of modern life and legal regulations are developing accordingly, and ensuring modern traffic safety for people in a building is becoming an increasingly important goal - not only for planners and architects. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go in the direction of accessibility.

In our built environment, accessibility deficiencies become clearly visible, for example when an elevator does not work or doorbells are placed too high to be reached by wheelchair users*. Regulations for barrier-free building are intended to remedy this. For example, there are DIN standards for stairs and elevators, but also for floor indicator guidance systems, tactile and acoustic signaling devices. DIN 18040 - Barrier-free Building 4.3.3 Doors states

  • Doors must be clearly visible, easy to open and close and safe to pass through.
  • Lower door stops and thresholds are not permitted. If they are technically indispensable, they must not be higher than 2 cm.

Cognitive limitations such as blindness and visual impairment should therefore be taken into account at the planning stage - and of course the entrance matting system must not become a tripping hazard in the door area. When entering the building, tactile guidance systems also make orientation much easier for blind and visually impaired people. In the outdoor area - on sidewalks, squares, etc. - appropriate guidance systems are already available in many places. If a guidance system for the blind is also available in the interior of a building, unfortunately the exterior and interior guidance systems are often interrupted by the doormat in the entrance area - an unnecessary barrier that makes it difficult to find your way again.

Barrier-free building

DIN-compliant solution

To solve this problem, emco bau, together with Hoba Steel, manufacturer of guidance systems for the blind for indoor and roofed outdoor areas and specialist for stainless steel wall and floor concepts, has developed an entrance mat with integrated guidance system for the blind: The solution connects the outdoor guidance system with the floor indicators in the interior. The tactile guidance system emco SPIN® SAFE not only meets the highest functional demands, but also aesthetic ones, as it offers a continuous optical stainless steel impression, starting with the entrance mat. The guidance system meets all requirements of DIN 32984 Floor indicators in public areas, which specifies requirements for floor indicators and other guidance elements. Its aim is to optimize the safety and mobility of blind and visually impaired people in public spaces. The standard therefore applies to areas that are accessible to the public. For this purpose, for example, the shape and dimensions of the profiles as well as necessary luminance contrast of the floor indicators and many other aspects are defined.

Tactile control system from emco

emco SPIN® SAFE as a perfect symbiosis of cleaning function, tactile floor information and effective brightness contrast meets the requirements and has already been used in the entrance areas of hospitals, banks, administration buildings and rehabilitation centers. The tactile guidance system reduces the barriers for the blind and visually impaired and can be integrated into many emco entrance mats. With emco SPIN® SAFE, directions and changes of direction can be easily and clearly felt by blind and visually impaired people using their feet or a cane. But the robust stainless steel elements offer even more: In addition to the tactile floor indicators, the auditory impression changes significantly when using a cane.

Building entrance

Further barrier-free solutions

The tactile guidance system for the blind emco TLS is a technical alternative whose light-dark contrast meets international standards. Longitudinally running profiles support the tactile guidance as well as the high cleaning power of the system. Thanks to slightly different heights, they can be felt when walking, both with the sole of the foot and with the aid of the cane. Thus, the guidance system for the blind enables blind and visually impaired people to find doors, stairs, lifts, etc. as well as orientation in halls. The guidance system also draws attention to obstacles and dangers. The floor guidance system can also make orientation easier for people without impaired vision. For people with impaired vision, the material offers strong contrasts and can therefore be more easily distinguished from the rest of the entrance matting.

emco's range of products for blind and visually impaired people is rounded off by the emco MAXIMUS® ASSISTANCE clean running mat, which is equipped with a tactile floor guidance system. It can be laid out flexibly and facilitates orientation and target finding in entrance areas and buildings. In addition, existing floor guidance systems can be reliably continued - for example in the form of a transition from the sidewalk into the building interior. For this purpose, the guidance system, which can be individually integrated into the mat, provides floor information at different heights, which can be felt with the sole of the foot or with the help of a cane for the blind. A high-contrast color scheme provides additional assistance. emco MAXIMUS® ASSISTANCE is particularly suitable for subsequent installation.


Read an interview with architect Dirk Michalski on the topic "Architecture and Accessibility".

* Source:

Discover current magazine articles