Abbreviations and Units

This section originates from information collected for the guidebook published in 2000.

Measurements are given in centimetres (cm), and metres (m). Although these are the units increasingly being used internationally, many British people still think in Imperial measures. To convert metric measurements to the more familiar Imperial units, use the following guidelines:

10 centimetres is about 4 inches (2.5 centimetres=1 inch)
1 metre is about a yard
1 litre is about 2 pints
1 kilo is about 2 pounds

Wheelchairs vary considerably in size so it’s worth checking the exact dimensions of yours to relate to the measurements given in the guide.

Steps are listed by number, with + indicating steps up and – indicating down. Occasionally we list them as ±, in that it depends on which direction you are coming from.

In cafés, restaurants and pubs we have not said each time that the chairs and tables are movable. It is assumed that they are movable, and therefore more convenient for chair users and for others. Where they are not movable, or if the seats and tables are high up or might cause a problem, we have said so.

Our definition of a wheelchair toilet is one where the toilet is unisex; the door opens outward; the door width is greater than 70 cm and the side transfer space is greater than 70 cm. If it does not quite meet these criteria, but is adapted for a chair user, then we call it an adapted toilet, and we give the appropriate measurements and information. Where the cubicle is INSIDE the ladies or gents toilet area, we describe them as being wheelchair or adapted cubicles.

A lift is in a lift shaft, with doors, and a cabin which can be large or small. It goes up and down between the floors of a building.

An open lift is a small rectangular vertical lift, usually to take one chair user at a time and bypassing just a few steps – often added in a building as an afterthought.

A platform stairlift goes up stairs (attached to the wall) and has a platform which can take a wheelchair, and occupant.

A stairclimber is a free-standing and portable device to which a wheelchair may be attached. It needs (usually) two or three people to operate it, but it can enable a chair user to be helped up or down stairs. We would comment that the only versions we’ve come across of these are not very comfortable to use.

Measurements are given in centimetres (cm) for lift measurements: door width (D), cabin width (W) and cabin length (L). On this basis, you can decide whether the lift is large enough for you to use. Similarly, with loos, we have given the door width (D) and the space for side transfer (ST) from the toilet seat to the wall.


  • BB Parking for disabled people. The orange badge has now been replaced by the blue badge.
  • BO box office
  • BR British Rail (the pre-privatisation operator of the railways)
  • CP car park
  • door width
  • D, ST the door width and side transfer distance in Adapted toilets, in cm
  • D,W,L the door width, cabin width, and length of a lift, in cm
  • DAR Dial-a-Ride
  • DaRT Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard Users Association
  • DisEnq number for enquiries by disabled people
  • DLR Docklands Light Railway
  • ETB English Tourist Board
  • Ext extension
  • FC Football Club
  • GF ground floor
  • GFB ground floor bedroom
  • GLAD The Greater London Association of Disabled People
  • HCS Holiday Care Service
  • JLE Jubilee Line Extension
  • length
  • LTB London Tourist Board
  • M management or administration telephone number
  • M25 the orbital motorway going right round Greater London
  • Middx Middlesex
  • MSCP multi-storey car park
  • NCP National Car Park
  • NKS RADAR National Key Scheme
  • PHSP Pauline Hephaistos Survey Projects
  • RADAR Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation
  • RecM recorded message
  • RNIB Royal National Institute for Blind People
  • RNID Royal National Institute for Deaf People
  • ST side transfer space
  • TfL Transport for London
  • UGCP underground car park
  • width
  • YHA Youth Hostels Association
  • YMCA Young Men’s Christian Association
  • YWCA Young Women’s Christian Association

16thC, 19thC etc are used for 16th century, 19th century etc.