Accessibility of lifts

Accessibility of lifts – Usability for persons with visual impairment.

Why we are campaigning

In relation to the accessibility of lifts, lack of awareness regarding the importance of measures that allow people with a visual impairment to use lifts autonomously is a big problem. While it is broadly understood and accepted that certain specific requirements such as access without steps, a minimum door width or enough space inside the lift car are necessary requirements, it is not yet widely accepted that, for example, the usability of control devices is just as necessary to ensure the accessibility of the whole lift. Therefore, people with visual impairment often experience serious difficulties in using lifts.

Campaign History

Currently, the standard where requirements for accessibility of lifts are set on a European level (EN 81-70) is being updated. Since there have been concerns that the new requirements might not be sufficient in relation to users with visual impairment, EBU has campaigned extensively with its partners on this topic. Although this has been partly successful, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure the accessibility of lifts through sufficient requirements in standardisation and legislation as well as awareness raising among all stakeholders.

The current situation

04/10/2018 - In spite of those activities, the update of standard EN 81-70 for accessible lifts, published on 16 May 2018, was disappointing as expected. It contains insufficient contrast requirements for operating buttons. In the long term, the aim will be to lobby for (sufficient) accessibility requirements to be included in the basic lift standard EN 81-20 instead of having a separate standard for accessibility, which is not even applied at the moment in most European countries. At the same time it will be important to raise awareness about the lack of accessibility of several solutions that are already on the market and implemented (e.g. sensor and touch screen devices) and demand to either improve or avoid them. From a legal point of view, the European Lifts Directive, which is currently being revised, will play an important role. EDF is involved in the process and will consult EBU when necessary. Besides, we will closely monitor the approval in national standardisation organisations of the European Draft standard EN 17161 about Accessibility following a Design for All approach. The deadline for this was October 2018.

Next Steps

As the unsatisfying results of the activities in relation to EN 81-70 trying to accomplish sufficient accessibility requirements in a standard have shown, it will be necessary to specifically address the issue of actual participation in standardisation processes in order to achieve standards that comply to accessibility following a Design for All approach in the future. EBU will support ANEC’s approaches providing the strong voice and expertise of VI persons’ advocacy group and collaborating with other organisations such as EDF and AGE.

More information

Further reading :

More details on the European Standard EN 81-70:2003