Units and Abbreviations

Following the publication of the new guide (2008), these pages are being progressively updated.

This section originates from the data used in the guidebook published in 2000

The text below is from the previous edition of the guide.

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.

Our definition of a wheelchair loo 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 the loo does not quite meet these criteria, but is adapted for a chair user, then we call it an adapted loo, 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.


  • A Autoroute (French motorway)
  • AA Automobile Association
  • APF Association des Paralysés de France
  • av Avenue
  • bd Boulevard
  • BR British Rail
  • cm Centimetre/s
  • CNFLRH Comité National Français de Liaison pour la Réadaptation des Handicapés
  • CP Car Park
  • D Door width
  • DDA Disabled Drivers Association
  • DDMC Disabled Drivers Motor Club
  • DLF Disabled Living Foundation
  • Fax Fax number
  • FGTO French Government Tourist Office
  • GFB Ground floor bedroom
  • km Kilometre/s
  • L Length (for example of a lift)
  • m Metre/s
  • M Motorway
  • N Nationale (minor road in France)
  • PHAB Physically handicapped and able-bodied (youth clubs)
  • PHSP Pauline Hephaistos Survey Projects
  • pl Place/square
  • RAC Royal Automobile Club
  • RADAR Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation
  • RATP Réseau Autonome du Transport Parisien
  • RER Réseau Express Régional
  • RN Route nationale (main road in France)
  • SIA Spinal Injuries Association
  • SNCF Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (French railways)
  • ST Sideways transfer to a loo seat
  • Tel Telephone number
  • VAT Value added tax
  • W Width (for example of a lift)
  • - Steps down (or, in context, floors below ground level)
  • + Steps up (if written after a number, it means > or more than)