Sensory Trust factsheet

Outdoor access guidance - steps
4. Steps

Steps are difficult for many people with disabilities and usually impossible for wheelchair users. However for some people steps are preferable to ramps. Wherever possible provide a choice of steps and ramp.

Careful design of outdoor steps is important to ensure that they are as accessible as possible. The following notes are intended as a basic guide and not as detailed specifications. It is essential that any design meets current Building Regulations.


Single steps as these are easily overlooked.

Ramped steps and angled steps as these are difficult for most people to use.

Design details

Step riser: Maximum 150mm, avoid open risers.

Step tread: Minimum 280mm. (Walking frame users: riser max. 100mm; tread min. 550mm).

Resting platforms, or landings, of approximately 1.8m should be provided for each 1.2m flight of steps.

Step series

Steps should be uniform within a series, with consistent risers and treads. Maximum rise per flight of steps: 1.2m.

Step design

Steps should contract visually with their background. Use paint or contrasting materials to highlight step nosings. Highlights should be at least 55mm deep and extend the full width of the step.


Use textured surfaces on the approaches to the top and bottom of steps to provide warnings for people with visual impairments.


A handrail should be provided on each side of the flight of steps.


Steps should have a slight cross-fall to shed water.


Use materials that give a non-slip, firm and level surface. Avoid materials that reflect light and give high glare.


Regular safety checks and routine maintenance are essential.

Links to more outdoor access guidance

Do you need more help?

Sensory Trust runs consultancy in inclusive design including our new highly competitive one hour mini service Read more about how Sensory Trust consultancy services could help you.

Sensory Trust promotes and supports the creation and management of outdoor spaces that can be used and enjoyed by everyone.

sensory trail marker kit

Sensory Trail markers are a simple, low cost solution to creating fun sensory trails around any outdoor space. Find out more...

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Access Chain - a tool we created for reviewing access from the user's perspective

Access statements - samples for you to use

What is inclusive design? Includes overview and links to what inclusive design looks like in practice

Accessible information design - making your communication available to everyone is a crucial part of inclusive design

Our publications - for more information and guidance