Barcelona City Council publishes its "Making our Commerce Accessible" guide



  • This is the first Barcelona City Council guide that tells traders how to implement accessibility measures in commercial establishments.

Shop aisles and interiors free of obstacles, entrances without steps, adequate adapted toilet facilities that everyone can use and communication that offers new solutions rather than creating new barriers. A municipal initiative encourages the city's traders to take new steps towards accessible commerce that is open to everyone. Although this is mainly for people with disabilities, it also makes access to commercial establishments easier and more comfortable for everyone.

Barcelona City Council has published its first informative guide that explains how to implement accessibility measures in Barcelona commercial establishments and encourages traders to apply them, beyond the minimum requirements already established for shops according to their type. This is a guide that aims to break down barriers. The new publication was presented by Laia Ortiz, the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, and Montserrat Ballarin, the Deputy Mayor for Commerce and Markets,.at the central offices of the Association of Catalan Architects.

8 out of 10 of Barcelona's commercial establishments have physical barriers that hinder access from the street. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 establishments have an entrance that is over 70 cm wide, according to data from the 2016 Activity Survey of the Barcelona Commercial Sector. On average, commercial establishments have a sales area of 69.5 square metres (excluding the walls of markets). The biggest are from the car industry, home-decoration, leisure and culture sectors. Barcelona's establishments have an average total surface area of 110.5 square metres.

Illustrations and informative texts

Published with informative texts and illustrations, the guide aims to be a useful, practical document which shows the benefits of running a commercial establishment that is accessible to everyone. It explains how small actions and everyday habits can help traders to offer high-quality service adapted to the needs of everyone.

The initiative began with a teaching project organised by the UPC's Higher Technical School of Architecture, with the participation of the Casc Antic [Old Quarter] Commission of People with Functional Diversity. They were later joined by other organisations for people with disabilities, traders associations and the administration itself, through district technical services that have carried out projects such as CASBA, Casc Antic Sense Barreres [Old Quarter Without Barriers], SASBA (Sants Without Barriers) and MASBA (Marina Without Barriers), which have also contributed experience and the accessibility needs detected in commercial establishments.

Basic solutions

The guide explains solutions designed to tackle barriers. These are wide-ranging and include:

façade awnings that are dangerously low and thick-pile carpets that make it practically impossible for people to enter an establishment with a pushchair or in a wheelchair. They are a set of ideas that try to achieve self-sufficiency and equal rights for people with disability in their relationship with local commerce. These ideas are also for the benefit people in general, such as parents with children's pushchairs, senior citizens with reduced mobility, people carrying heavy bags and people with language difficulties.

The guide is divided into five main lines of action, which aim to favour everything that can facilitate accessibility, while also highlighting the consequences of not heeding recommendations and the benefits of applying them.

It is better to have aisles without obstacles, such as desks, billboards, plant pots or pieces of furniture. Nothing that can hinder people's movement. Keep façades clear. It is better to position awnings at a safe height.

Avoid steps or thick-pile carpets at the entrance to commercial establishments. Ramp platforms can also become an obstacle.

Shop interiors can be more comfortable places if: there are no obstacles in the transit areas and it is easy to move around; if the products are within everyone's reach; if the changing rooms are accessible and the shop counters are at a height where traders and customers can interact.

Toilet facilities must be designed or adapted so that everyone can use them. And, of course, this area must not be used as a storeroom.

Finally, the guide suggests rethinking communication, in order to facilitate information found on labels and detailed information on products, menus and websites.