B651-12 (R2017) - Accessible design for the built environment




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This is the fourth edition of B651, Accessible design for the built environment. It supersedes a previous 2004 edition, and two earlier editions entitled Barrier-Free Design, published in 1995 and 1990.

This Standard contains requirements for making buildings and other facilities accessible to persons with a range of physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. It was developed to fulfill an expressed need for a national technical standard that covers many different types of buildings and environmental facilities, and can be referenced in whole or in part by a variety of adopting agencies or jurisdictions.


1.1 Purpose

This Standard specifies technical requirements on how to make buildings and the exterior built environment accessible and safely usable by persons with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.


    (1) Temporary buildings and facilities provided for public use should also comply with the technical requirements of this Standard. Such temporary facilities may include teaching spaces, reviewing stands, exhibit areas, bleachers, first-aid facilities, or pedestrian passageways around construction sites.

    (2) Where public access is permitted during construction, renovation, or maintenance of a facility or an exterior environment, the requirements of this Standard should be respected to provide safe and equitable use for everyone.

    (3) Some people with disabilities may have requirements beyond the levels addressed in this Standard.
1.2 Application

This Standard describes technical requirements that can be used in the design and construction of new facilities or exterior environments, or in modifications to existing facilities. This Standard does not address the application of the technical requirements. The extent to which these requirements have to be applied is the responsibility of other authorities having jurisdiction.

1.3 Dimensions

This Standard contains minimum requirements based on adult dimensions. Dimensions are given in SI (metric) units(typically in millimetres) and, where converted from foot/pound (imperial) units, have been rounded off with respect to critical dimensions. All dimensions in figures are given in millimetres and are measured to the centre line, unless otherwise specified.


    (1) When designing for specific individuals, their particular abilities and preferences should betaken into account. For example, some people prefer to transfer to or from a wheel chair towards their preferred side when using toilet facilities.

    (2) If a facility is primarily to serve children, dimensions and other provisions should be adjusted to make them suitable for children.
1.4 Commentary and figures

Commentary and figures are included for explanatory or illustrative purposes only and are not a mandatory part of the Standard. If there is any difference between the text and figure (where provided), the text shall take precedence.

The symbol of a right angle, located in the upper left-hand corner of each figure, is an indicator to persons with visual impairments that a figure follows.

1.5 Annexes

Annex A, "Environmental considerations", is an introduction to several topics that are only partially covered in this Standard, but that have broad environmental implications for the accessibility and usability of spaces by all persons, whether they have disabilities or not. Annexes B to D provide additional information on topics considered in the Standard. Annex F provides references for accessible outdoor recreational environments, which are not otherwise addressed in the Standard. Annex E is a mandatory Annex.

1.6 Terminology

In this Standard, "shall" is used to express a requirement, i.e., a provision that the user is obliged to satisfy in order to comply with the standard; "should" is used to express a recommendation or that which is advised but not required; and "may" is used to express an option or that which is permissible within the limits of the standard. Commentary accompanying clauses do not include requirements or alternative requirements; the purpose of a commentary accompanying a clause is to separate from the text explanatory or informative material.

Commentary to tables and figures are considered part of the table or figure and may be written as requirements.

Annexes are designated normative (mandatory) or informative (nonmandatory) to define their application.

1.7 Large print

Consistent with the recommendations of the B651 series of standards, and for ease of reading the information, this Standard has been printed in a 14 point font size.

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