Terminal environment

The path to the terminal must be free from obstacles such as steps, bins or signage that would obstruct the progress of users who are either walking or using a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or motorised buggy. This includes the path into any room or area containing the terminal. The user should be able to operate the terminal from a clear, flat area large enough to manoeuvre mobility aids such as a wheelchair or buggy. There should be provision for adequate lighting.


Users with restricted mobility who use wheelchairs, motorised buggies or walking frames may have difficulty getting around obstacles placed in the path to the terminal. Steps can cause particularly severe or insurmountable problems. In order to operate the terminal, they will have to manoeuvre themselves to be close enough to it. Then, when they have finished, they will have to manoeuvre themselves out again, preferably without having to go backwards.

wheelchair user

Provide a clear access path. Ensure easy access to the device for people using wheelchairs, buggies or mobility aids.

Having reached the terminal, users will need a stable platform from which to operate it.

If a blind person is not familiar with the environment, it can be difficult to find a terminal. One possibility is to use a contactless smart card, carried by the blind person, to trigger an audible signal from the terminal at a distance of a few metres.

Directions and Techniques

If it is necessary to raise the operating area above normal street or floor level, provide a ramp with a maximum slope of 6%.

Provide a clear area of 1.5 metres radius directly in front of the terminal, with a floor surface that is level in a direction parallel to the facia of the terminal. The gradient of any crossfall should not exceed 1 in 20.

Wheelchair turning circle

A wheelchair user requires a corridor of 0.9m in width to access a device and a minimum of 1.5m to make a complete turn comfortably.

Refer to appropriate physical design guidelines or building accessibility guidelines. The United Nations have a useful set of anthropometrical data covering required path dimensions for wheelchairs. N.B. Electric wheelchairs typically have a larger turning circle than occupant-propelled wheelchairs.

A wheelchair user can use a parallel approach to the terminal as long as they have the ability to twist their body to reach the controls. If they use a frontal approach, there must be room to accommodate the footrest of the wheelchair so that the user can still reach the controls.

Users often have no use of one of their hands, either due to a physical disability or because they are using it to hold onto something else, such as a child, a shopping bag, a physical support or a purse containing their valuables. It should still be possible for them to use the terminal without having to let go of any of these things. For users with a walking stick, it is beneficial for there to be a notch or similar device so that a walking stick can be leant against the terminal without the stick falling over.

It is recommended that a background illumination of at least 50 lux be provided at floor level so that dropped objects can be easily located. The illumination on the interactive areas of the terminal should be at least 200 lux. The lighting should not cause any direct glare to the eyes of the users or reflections from the screen.

The design of any queuing system should take into account the needs of blind and partially sighted people. The use of textured surfaces and clear visual markings can alleviate the problem. An audible location signal can be beneficial for blind users. For example, if the queuing system is a single queue for multiple counters, then an audible signal helps the visually impaired person locate the correct counter. The frequency of the audible signal is important since it is easier to locate some sounds (note that this can be a function of the user's hearing loss). These audible signals can also be useful for locating emergency exits when the fire alarm goes off (and the building is full of smoke).

How you could check for this

Test the suitability of the terminal environment provided by conducting test runs with selected user groups.

During testing, the following key checks should be made:

  • Location signs are easy to read;
  • Lighting levels are adequate;
  • Queuing arrangements are appropriate;
  • There is a clear path for wheelchair users;
  • The surface around the terminal is level;
  • There is a location system for blind users;
  • Room for the footrest of a wheelchair is provided;
  • There is a notch for leaning walking sticks.

Additional guidance on the Terminal Environment is available in the Public Access Terminal guidelines