Just when you think you learned all you needed to know about accessibility standards they’ll go and change them. Despite the changes however small or significant they may be, understanding the purpose of access is key to designing and building an accessible and inclusive community. You can create something to specifications but if it isn’t in the most appropriate location it can be entirely useless.

Here’s a simple example. Disability parking marked out perfectly to the specifications current at the time and the builder couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the picture when asked why they placed it where they did.

inaccessible stairs

While the parking is accessibly ideal it’s location is less than that. How the hell do you get a wheelchair up that set of stairs? Meanwhile to access the ramp to the building, a wheelchair user has to walk behind six cars through a very tight and often busy vehicle thoroughfare. It would have been just as easy to all four accessible parking bays at the ramp access rather than just two but without understanding the need, it seems the designer was looking for symmetrical harmony.

While the Access to Premises Standards 2010 (currently under review with findings to be released May 2016) have certain parts legislated that you MUST do, there is also a great deal of explanatory guidelines included to explain exactly how not to do the above. It’s worth reading it in full and understanding it from a physical aspect as well as a design aspect to get the full value. It also helps to avoid complaints down the track that can be accompanied by costly renovations.

Many of these accessible additions to buildings are beneficial to more of your patronage than just people with physical disabilities. Parents with young children, wheeled devices, the elderly and people experiencing temporary injury also benefit from these accessible measures. So if you think there’s no value in it for you to build to accessible standards, think again. It creates a safe and inviting environment for the whole community.

Improve your skills in design and building by trying Disability Simulation Experiences and engaging with local disability groups to ask them what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, look at the demographics of the community you’re building in and apply what is needed to fit that demographic. For example, the number of disability parking permit holders in Yamba exceeds 15% and while the requirements in a car park of a shopping centre are only allocating 2% of parking to disability accessible parking, this certainly doesn’t meet that community’s needs.

It’s certainly worth investing in building an accessible community. People with disabilities, parents and the elderly, who all use these accessible installations, all have money to spend. Better yet, they have the time to spend it.

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