BUT-SAN Asansör ve Elektrik Malzemeleri Tic. ve San. Ltd. Şti.

Universal Design Principles for Lifts: Accessibility

In recent years, there have been very important changes in the elevator sector, both in the world and in our country. The 2014/33/EU Lift Directive; as being called ‘Elevator Code’, EN 81-20/50 standards that may refer to as “Design Guide”, some other directives published one after another, and, finally, the EN 81-70:2018 and EN 81-28:2018 standards, which were published and enacted into force at the end of 2018.

One concept stands out among all these changes: DESIGN! If the designer knows the legislation well and gets involved in the zoning process onsite and on time, possible occupational accidents may be prevented, and substantial savings may be achieved without encountering unnecessary risk analysis, destruction and similar situations. For example, through determining the type of elevator to be used in the building in the project phase, a suitable amount of space may be allocated for the elevator.

Lift Directive (2014/33/EU), Annex-1 Essential Health and Safety Requirements, article 1.2. states: “…Where the lift is intended for the transport of persons, and where its dimensions permit, the car must be designed and constructed in such a way that its structural features do not obstruct or impede access and use by disabled persons and so as to allow any appropriate adjustments intended to facilitate its use by them.”

The Regulation of Zoning Plan Article 34 states, “… In the buildings that have one elevator, the narrow part of the elevator car shall not be less than 1.20 meters, shall not be smaller than 1.80m2 and net door width shall not be less than 0.90 meters.… In the buildings with more than one elevator, half of the elevators should be compliant with these measurements.” Accordingly, accessibility for the handicapped should not be ignored; rather ACCESSIBILITY is one of the most significant design principles.

EN 81-70: 2018 has been approved by TSE and officially entered into force in November 19, 2018 in our country, along with all of the EU countries. However, as a transition period has been allotted, both the aforementioned standard and its previous version are in force. TS EN 81-70:2004 will be abolished on May 31, 2020 latest, and TS EN 81-70:2018 will be unic regulation in force. Since the abovementioned standard has not yet been translated into Turkish yet, the next part of this article is a summary of the latest updates and developments with some visuals.

EN 81-70: 2018 European Standard specifies the minimum requirements for secure and independent accessibility to lifts for persons including those with disability.

  1. A) Main Changes with this new Standard
  2. The addition of detailed specifications for contrast requirements
  3. The increase of door widths and recommended door heights
  4. The addition of two more lift car types
  5. The clarification of arrangement and design of handrails
  6. Improved requirements for the design and arrangement of control devices and indicators

A.1) Contrast

Contrast colors — more importantly, contrast tones — should be properly used in order to identify the objects and to avoid dangers.

Contrast is the difference of reflection between two surfaces; for example, 100% contrast is black and white, because a lusterless black surface absorbs the whole light (0% reflectivity), while a white surface reflects the whole light (100% reflectivity). The simple method to determine the adequate contrast is to take a black-and-white photo of the surface. A good contrast will look black and white, while a poor contrast will look gray. Where luminance contrast between adjacent surfaces is required, the difference in Light Reflectance Value (LRV) shall comply with the Article 5.1.2. Table 2 of the new standard.

A.2) Audible Signal

When an audible signal or voice announcement is required, the sound level shall be adjustable between 35dB(A) and at least 65 dB(A). In noisy environments, like landings in train stations, the maximum sound level shall be adjustable up to 80 dB(A).

A.3) Entrances – Door Openings

The landing and car doors shall be automatic, power-operated horizontally sliding doors.

The clear opening width shall be at least 800 mm for type 1 cars, 900 mm for type 2, type 3 and type 4 cars, and 1,100 mm for type 5 cars. In existing buildings, the clear opening width shall be at least 800 mm for type 2 cars.

The door dwell time shall be adjustable at least between 2 s and 20 s, to suit the conditions where the lift is installed.

A door dwell time of at least 6 seconds is needed for persons with reduced mobility. A door close button may be provided to reduce the door dwell time.

A.4) Car Dimensions

The inside dimensions of cars with a single entrance or with two opposite or two adjacent entrances shall be chosen in accordance with Table 1.

Car dimensions shall be measured between the structural car walls. Decorative finishes on each wall that reduce the minimum car dimensions given by Table 1 shall not exceed 15 mm in thickness.

A.5) Equipment in the car

A handrail shall be installed on the side wall where the car operating panel is located as follows:

  1. The handrail shall be interrupted where the car operating panel is located in order to avoid obstructing control devices;
  2. the handrail may only be installed on one side of the car operating panel if the shorter side would not accommodate a handrail with an overall length of at least 400 mm;
  3. The gripping part of the handrail shall have cross-sectional dimensions between 30 mm and 45 mm with a minimum radius of 10 mm;
  4. The distance between the wall and the gripping part of the handrail shall be at least 35 mm;
  5. The height of the top edge of the gripping part of the handrail shall be 900 mm ± 25 mm from the finished floor level;
  6. The ends of the handrails shall be closed. Where there is a risk of collision with the projecting ends — e.g., where the handrail is interrupted in front of the car operating panel — the handrail shall return toward the wall.
    • For car types 1, 2 and 3, the handrail may be installed on the opposite side wall if the handrail would restrict the car entrance width
    • For car types 4 and 5, a second handrail shall be installed on the opposite side wall or on the rear wall.
    • There shall be no additional features attached to the car walls below a height of 800 mm which may restrict the accommodation and turning of passengers using wheelchairs or passengers with other walking aids. This would particularly be the case for type 1 and type 2 cars restricting the minimum depth and for type 4 cars restricting the smaller minimum dimension.
    • For car types 1, 2 and 3, a device (e.g. a small mirror) shall be installed to enable passengers to observe obstacles behind them when moving backward out of the car (Passengers with wheelchairs are unlikely to be able to turn around in this type of car). If a mirror will be used, it shall be a “laminated mirror,” as per TS EN 81-20.
    • The car floor shall be slip-resistant. The same material as used in the lift lobbies may be used for the lift car floor.

B- Control Devices and Signals

B.1) Landing Control Devices

In the case of a single lift, one set of landing control devices shall be mounted adjacent to the landing doors. In this case, the depth of any recess where the button may be located shall be limited to 250 mm. Minimum lateral distance between centerline of any button to the corner of any adjacent walls should be at least 500 mm (preferably, 700 mm). For two or more lifts, having common management of landing calls, at least one set of control devices for each wall shall be arranged between two landing doors. (see. figure-3)

B.2) Car Control Devices

The car operating panel shall be located on the side wall as follows:

  1. with center-opening doors, it shall be on the right-hand side when entering the car from the main entrance side;
  2. with side-opening doors, it shall be on the closing jamb side when entering the car from the main entrance side;
  3. when the car width exceeds 1,600 mm, a car operating panel shall be provided on both side walls of the car;
  4. in the case of cars with adjacent doors, a car operating panel shall be provided on each car wall without door.

The minimum distance between any button and adjacent wall should be 400mm. (see. figure 4)

B.3) Landing Signals

The indicator arrows shall be positioned between 1,800 mm and 2,500 mm above the finished floor level, with an angle of view from the landing of at least 140° in the horizontal plane and 70° from the horizontal in the vertical down plane. The height of the arrows shall be at least 40 mm. For single lifts, the indicator arrows may be placed inside the car at a height above the finished floor level of between 1,600 mm and 2,000 mm, and shall be clearly visible from the landing when doors are open.

An audible signal shall accompany the lighting of the arrows (for example, one sound for up and two sounds for down).

An audible signal on the landing shall indicate when the doors start opening. The door noise itself is sufficient if the noise level is 45 dB(A) or above.

B.4) Car Signals

A position signal shall be located within or above the car operating panel. The centerline of the signal shall be positioned between 1,600 mm and 1,800 mm from the finished floor level. The height of the floor numbers shall be between 30 mm and 60 mm.

C- Guidance for increased accessibility and usability (informative)

The following items are recommended for improving the accessibility and usability of lifts, particularly in train stations, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., where passengers with higher degree and/or combinations of disabilities should be able to use the lift.

  1. Glass landing doors should be marked in order to avoid confusion caused by transparent materials, and to allow the lift entrances to be easily identified. The same marking as for walls and doors in the building may be used.
  2. Transparent elements in walls of the car and the well or in landing and car doors may reduce the risk of panic and, in the case of trapped passengers, support communication with other persons outside of the lift. However, transparent elements may also exacerbate anxiety associated with fear of height.
  3. The height of landing and car doors and the clear height of the car should be at least 2,100 mm.
  4. Handrails should be installed on all car walls without doors.
  5. Walls should have matt surfaces to prevent reflections, optical confusion and glare caused by the reflection of light sources. There should be a minimum vertical distance of 300 mm between the floor and the bottom edge of the mirror.


  1. Lift Directive (2014/33/EU)
  2. EN 81-70:2018 Safety Rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift – Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability
  3. TS EN 81-70:2004 Safety Rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift – Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability
  4. The Regulation of Zoning Plan, date: 03.07.2017; number:30113 Legal Gazette (Tr)
  5. TS EN 81-20:2014 Safety Rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lifts – Part 20: Passenger and goods lifts