Wheelchair Accessible vs. Accommodating

Is it really "Wheelchair Accessible?"

Venues will often advertise themselves as wheelchair accessible, but then require wheelchair users to find a staff member to put out a ramp for you. Often staff are not experienced with the ramp and it usually takes a while to set it up. It is incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to need to find assistance just to get into a building. 

The UK government website defines accessibility as follows:

“Accessibility means that people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability.”

Whilst non-disabled people can just walk into a building, wheelchair users are expected to find and wait for assistance, which is not in line with this definition of accessibility.

Wheelchair users are fed up

Every wheelchair user I know has some awful story about times this has happened to them. An example from my own experience was a building which had steps leading up to the door. While there was a buzzer for wheelchair users to call for staff to get out a ramp, it was placed at the top of these stairs! In addition, when the staff did place the ramp, they placed it improperly and the ramp slipped when I was on it, nearly launching me out of my chair. (This is why I always wear my seatbelt!)

The solution?

I have made these two signs, to distinguish between wheelchair accessible (no assistance needed) and wheelchair accommodating (for portable ramps and other assistance based requirements). You can find the signs to download here, as well as including a guidance pack on how to use them. I have made them available to download for free (pay what you want), to encourage them to be as widely used as possible.

Wheelchair Accessible

A wheelchair user can navigate this area without assistance

This must include all areas of the venue

Wheelchair Accommodating

A wheelchair user may need assistance to navigate this area

If this is the case, information must be provided as to what kind of assistance is needed to access all areas of the venue.

What counts as assistance?

Aspects of the venue that may require assistance include:

  • Ramps that require placement / setting up by another person.
  • Lift or doors that are locked or need another person to unlock / open / operate.
  • Doors that need another person to open (consider if the doors are wide enough and if they need manual operation)
  • Items, furniture or building features that are placed too close together, that a wheelchair user would not be able to navigate without another person moving items.
  • Alternative step-free routes that are not clearly marked so the user would have to ask for guidance.

If any of these apply to the venue, it must be considered wheelchair accommodating rather than wheelchair accessible

If any of these apply to the venue, it must be considered wheelchair accommodating rather than wheelchair accessible

Can you help?

These signs are available to download for free. The designs were created by Rahul Radja, but they may be used freely and without any copyright restrictions. The designs must remain free from copyright restrictions or claims to ownership, to encourage them to be as widely used as possible. 

If you are organising an event or if you manage any venue or public space, you are encouraged to make signs from these designs, to ensure wheelchair users are informed of the accessibility. 


Media companies are encouraged to reach out to discuss promotional or other related material. 

If you have any questions or any ideas on how to encourage the use of these signs in public spaces, get in touch!