Background: The built environment needs to be designed so that all people can participate in the activities they want and need to do. Yet, accessibility is difficult to put into practice, and accessibility issues tend to be overlooked in the building and planning processes. Objectives: The aim of this scoping review was to summarize the research front in the area of accessibility to public buildings. Specific aims were to identify knowledge gaps, to identify access activities in relation to environmental features and to link to predominant activities in terms of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Methods: A literature search was performed in PubMed, PsycINFO, Inspec, Embase and Cochrane databases. Articles in English based on original empirical studies investigating accessibility of public buildings for adults aged ≥18 years with functional limitations were considered. Results: Of the 40 articles included, ten involved study participants, while 30 only examined buildings using instruments to assess accessibility. In addition, the psychometric properties were only tested for a few of them. All articles concerned mobility and several visual limitations, while few addressed cognitive or hearing limitations. Ten main access activities were identified, from using parking/drop-off area to exiting building. Conclusions: By using the ICF and theoretically relating the accessibility problems to activities, the results revealed that there are large knowledge gaps about accessibility to public buildings for older people and people with functional limitations and that there is a need for more methodological considerations in this area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101227
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number2
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Nursing

Free keywords

  • Environment design
  • ICF
  • Impairment
  • Participation
  • Person-environment fit


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