2.8 Accessibility


04 min. reading time

Stadiums must be inclusive and accessible for all, including disabled people and people with limited mobility. The stadium and its surrounding precinct should accommodate all staff, spectators and guests while respecting the principles of non-discrimination, equality, dignity, inclusivity and functionality. Stadiums should ensure that their design is simple and intuitive to use without unnecessary complexity, reducing the possibility of risks and errors due to accidental or involuntary actions and including graphic, audible and tactile information to aid use by all.

FIFA acknowledges that the terms used in the accessibility field differ depending on region and organisation. The use of “disabled people” and not “people with disabilities” or any other term is based on the notion that it is important to see the person and not the disability. The environment is the disabling factor if there are barriers in place. For example, a wheelchair user is only disabled when there are steps or steep gradients that cannot be accessed by a wheelchair user. Likewise, a blind or partially sighted person is only disabled when information is not provided in an accessible format and access routes are blocked by physical barriers or trip hazards.

The Accessibility Guide published by the International Paralympic Committee in September 2015 states that “research has shown that the actual percentage of people who require accessible infrastructure and services exceeds 20% of the population at any time. Therefore it is clear that at any given time a significant percentage of the population is a beneficiary of an accessible environment.”

The stadium accessibility strategy should extend to include consideration of the entire spectator journey and include all aspects of the match experience, from where a spectator can park a car or access public transport through the entry and circulation process and all the way to their location within the seating bowl. Facilities to enhance the spectator experience should also cater for those with specific accessibility requirements and include spectator retail areas, WCs and concessions.

Figure 2.8.1
Categories of people who require, or benefit from, accessible stadiums

Stadium project teams should engage with relevant stakeholders in the city, local NGOs working on accessibility, and/or wider disability groups for consultation and aspire to be exemplary projects to ensure access to the stadium and its services for everyone. Where local guidance and/or legislation is limited or silent on stadium building types, reference should be made to the FIFA Accessibility Guidelines.

The focus of accessibility programmes is most often on disabled persons and persons with limited mobility, however, there are other beneficiaries of good access that also gain from its implementation. Figure 2.8.1 provides a breakdown of those who benefit from good access.

Stadium projects should recognise that some people have disabilities that are not “visible” to others and some may have complex or multiple access requirements that cross the boundaries of disability categories. For example, a wheelchair user may also be blind or deaf.

Stadiums that are reviewing their accessibility provisions should consider, where possible, organising a walk-through to physically test the facilities provided prior to matches taking place. Several people with different disabilities should take part in this testing to give feedback and recommendations to the stadium design and operational team. This should be done in good time to ensure that improvements and reasonable adjustments can be made.


Accessible parking and drop-off/pick-up areas should be provided and located next to the stadium or close by. Refer to Section 5.1 for further details on drop-off/pick-up points and parking areas.

As shown in Access for All-UEFA and CAFE Good Practice Guide


Access routes around the stadium, both externally and internally, should be designed to accommodate all users and, where appropriate, provide protection from the elements. Consideration should also be given to how wayfinding and signage is designed and positioned to support those with limited sight (see Section 5.5). These should be used in conjunction with tactile surfaces at ground level and within reach of spectators to identify places where decisions regarding which direction to take need to be made. Circulation routes are also addressed in Sub-Section 2.3.2.

Entry systems, such as turnstile barriers and access gates, should allow dedicated locations for access by wheelchairs of varying sizes. Refer to Section 5.1 for further details on turnstiles.


All spectator areas, including those for hospitality guests, media representatives and visiting (away) fans should be developed to reflect accessible design principles.

Spectator seating outside the seating bowl in concourses, lounges and boxes should be provided in such a way as to allow groups of people to sit together, including multiple wheelchair users attending the match together. For seating within the stadium bowl, including provisions for media attendees, refer to Section 2.4.

In recent years, it has become more common to dedicate space for sensory disabled people and those who need to retreat away from the busy and noisy public spaces that can be overwhelming and may cause anxiety. Stadiums should provide a sensory room with a view of the field of play that can offer those who find the stadium atmosphere challenging a space from which to watch the match, along with dedicated toilet facilities.

Considering how children or people of short stature will occupy their spaces is vital to create a welcoming atmosphere within the stadium. Low-level handrails should be considered to aid them in using the stairs, and family toilets with additional low-level sinks and toilets could provide confidence that people of short stature or young children will be safe when using toilet facilities.

A sensory viewing room at Education City Stadium, Qatar


All stadiums should provide facilities for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Hearing aids, which may be used by hard-of-hearing persons, are most effective in close conversational settings, where there is little background noise and where the user is close to the source of sound.

Assistive listening systems (ALS) improve the impact of hearing aids in busy environments such as stadiums. The devices capture sound from a desired source (e.g. a microphone used for public announcements) and transmit it directly to a person’s hearing aid, without interference. Without an ALS, the hearing aid alone in a busy setting amplifies all sounds, including background noise, which may lead to stressful and distressing experiences for its user.

Within a stadium bowl, where there is substantial background noise (e.g. cheering, chants, music) and lengthy distances between a source of audible information and a spectator, assistive listening systems should be provided to ensure an accessible environment. Similarly, portable assistive listening systems could also be used at customer service points, such as ticketing centres/ticket clearing points and information counters.