How to Ensure Your Building Complies with Disability Standards

18th Sep 13

When designing a new building for public use or renovating an old one, there is a lot to consider with regards to access for everyone. Although essential, keeping in line with the legislation isn't necessarily difficult. Australian legislation states that buildings must be accessible to people who have a disability. Business owners, leasees and builders must comply with the disability act for disabled people and public buildings. 

Vertical platform lift in parking garage
In order to comply with Australia's building code, you need to consider and then meet the following obligations:

Universal design
This supports the design of buildings that cater to the needs of people with all types of abilities within the community. The standards for design and renovation, in order to comply with regulations, include the design and construction of ramps and stairways, accessible toilets, visual and hearing systems. While there may be certain barriers for access within certain buildings with regards to features such as narrow hall ways, lack of ramps, or confined spaces, there are ways around these issues. 

What needs to be done and where
The code covers public spaces including existing and heritage buildings, new or proposed buildings, transport systems, car parks, sports venues, pathways, public gardens and parks. Ask yourself the following questions: 

What are the access issues I need to weigh up to guarantee access for people with disabilities?

People with any kind of disability, whether they use crutches, a walking frame, a wheelchair, have vision or hearing impairments, or any other disability, need to be able to access the premises safely and easily. This may mean you need to consider installing a ramp, elevator, handrails or a platform lift to guarantee access. 

What level of access needs to be provided to meet the requirements of the Disabilities Act and Australian Building Code?

The basics
There needs to be a continuous and accessible route to and within the building. This needs to provide access to all necessary amenities, like car parks, basements, bathrooms and other services, and cannot incorporate steps, turnstiles, revolving doors, escalators or any other like hazard which would hinder a person with a disability. Those designing or constructing a building, and owners or people leasing a building for public use should consider circulation spaces, width of paths, changes in level, walkways, ramps, the incorporation of handrails, ground surfaces, doors, lighting and other fixtures. There also needs to be consideration for those with a vision or hearing impairment in regards to signage and tactile notices.

The landscape and streetscape should be designed in such a way that there is a continuous and easily reached path of travel. Take note of curb ramps, gutters, footpaths, outside hazards blocking the path, the path's surface, traffic signs, signs, information and other warnings. The car park must contain designated and easily recognized spaces for vehicles used by people with disabilities. These spaces must be close to the premises and provide an accessible path to the closest entrance.

Getting in and around
Public entrances should be accessible to all users and elevators and ramps must be safe and easily operated by the user. If you only have one bathroom on the premises it must be accessible for people with disabilities. If there are several bathrooms then at least one must be suitable. All hardware needs be accessible by anyone; these fixtures include door handles, power switches, card slots, keys pads and buttons.

Warnings, signs and alarms 
Listening systems, with notification signs, need to be in place for hearing augmentation in places where public announcements are made. There should be both visual and tactile signs available to inform all users of any relevant information and other warnings. Alarms need to alert everyone to a potential danger or hazard and therefore need to be audible and visual.

If you need more information, The Premises Standards for complying with the Australian Building Code is available online. You're also welcome to reach out to the team at Pandect Mobility Solutions - we'll be happy to help guide you.

Filed under Residential Lifts

Written by

Ian has over 30 years experience in the service sector within Australia, New Zealand and Europe. He has gained a wealth of national and international knowledge throughout this time specialising in quality operational and service delivery both in the private and public sectors. For the last 6 years he has owned and operated Vestner, a New Zealand company specialising in the...

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