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This is a really common question. The Australian Standards AS1428.1 requires a minimum clear opening of 850mm to provide clearances for the 90th Percentile wheelchair.  Practically, smaller door openings will provide for smaller wheelchairs, however, the Standards have been derived, with a line in the sand and, provided your doorway is a min 850 clear of any obstructions, it is lawful.

The reality is that some wheelchairs can fit through much smaller openings safely, and other wheelchairs are simply too wide, even for an 850 clear opening. In a private house, you could, by using personal ergonomic measurements, design the door widths and corridors to suit the resident's clearance requirements and not follow the standards at all.

There are other exceptions to the door width required by the Standards. In NSW Nursing homes, for instance, doorways are required to be wider than the minimum in the standards, especially when occupants are evacuated in emergency situations while remaining in their beds. Clearances are needed to fit the bed through the door (obviously without tipping it sideways, since there is a resident on the bed!) Details for those doorway clearances and corridor widths are stipulated in the building code and big problems (with big rectification costs) are caused by mere millimetre indiscretions.

There's more to traversing through a door opening than simply getting the door size right. There are circulation space requirements either side of the door to enable a person to operate it, and there are door handle requirements, as well as the force required to operate the door. All of these limitations mean that you'd better obtain the right advice first up, to avoid costly rebuilds. Contact Sydney Access Consultants for a review of  your project.

 

 

Over the last 30 years, I've designed Child Care Centres for both the private and public sector, around 20, I guess. They each have one common thread, namely, good access. Mothers with prams and a toddler in tow, vehicular movement and safe separation for daydreaming pedestrians, consideration for the circulation spaces required by groups of people moving together,  shower and toilet facilities for those little accidents, with all the space required for a teacher to assist in the cleanup... You get the idea. Identifying these thoughts for design generally, doesn't consider the Building Code's requirements for disability access. However, if you resolve those parameters adequately, then you'll quickly see that a person who takes advantage of the use of a wheelchair to assist with mobility, can readily circulate within the spaces you've provided and compliance with the Disability Access to Premises Standards 2009 is easily achieved.

So what are the key elements of circulation in a child care centre?

1) Safe car parking, wide enough for a parent to unload the children, unfold a pram, grab all the bags etc, all the while keeping the children out of the traffic aisle. It's true that you must provide a car space compliant with AS 2890.6, which conveniently satisfies the needs of every parent drop off. If only you had the luxury of space to provide an open shared zone between every two vehicles!

2) Safe, step free walkway so that mum can push the pram with one hand, while holding an excited toddler in the other. Conveniently, you must provide a step free accessible path of travel at least 1m clear wide, for wheelchair access from the accessible vehicle bay to the principal pedestrian entry, all to AS 1428.1. Why not make every space as useful to accomodate prams?

3) A step free entry door, preferably under cover, in a zone secured by fencing so that toddlers cannot run off into the carpark, with circulation space adequate for mum to park the pram, step around it, and operate the security door. Under the BCA and AS 1428.1, you must provide a door with min 850 clear opening, with accessible lever action handles, with enough circulation space for a wheelchair user to side up against the door and operate the intercom and levers. There are strict minimum circulation spaces required on the hinge side and the handle side of the opening.

4) A step free door threshold, for convenient pram access. You must provide a step free threshold for disability access to AS 1428.1

5) The ability to turn the pram around and exit the door without assistance. You must provide circulation space in a corridor to enable a wheelchair to turn 180 degrees, to AS 1428.1 Similarly, the exit side of the door must provide at least the min circulation spaces required for  wheelchair user to open the door from the inside to exit without assistance.

 

I could continue this process throughout the child care centre and into the playground, but by now you ought realise that disability access is not a burden, in fact, it is quite a useful design feature for everyone, particularly in a child care setting.

There are exceptions to the requirement for disability access within child care centres, store rooms for instance, and some other areas. Please send us your design for a review prior to DA so that we can assist you in meeting the disability access requirements without compromising child numbers.

 

 

There are numerous standards that apply to new apartment developments in NSW.

The NSW Gov have implemented the Apartment Design Guide which requires diversity in apartment design to accomodate the 20% of our population who are living with disabilities. Councils too have recognised that there is an ageing population that faces access challenges. Indeed, so many people make up the demographic of over sixty fives that it is recognised that home care will be the go to retirement plan, usurping Retirement Villages. The future will see home owners seeking to modify their dwellings to adapt to ageing and frailty, which can be done discretely and without devaluing the usefulness of the property to future owners.

There is in NSW, and will continue to be a massive imbalance in the available accessible or adaptable homes suitable for this ageing group.

The Savvy Councils have insisted on a higher proportion of "adaptable housing" and "Livable housing" in consumer derived apartment developments. Often these measures are in addition to the State Government minimums.

We are regularly assessing developments for compliance with:

  • AS 4299 Adaptable Housing Standards
  • Livable Housing design Guidelines
  • Senior's SEPP housing
  • AS 1428.1 access throughout the common areas of class 2 developments.

These planning regulations often compete and contradict, so we have developed clear method of assessment to guide developments through the minefield of access requirements and regulatory controls.

 

 

 

There are numerous private colleges throughout Sydney and we are regularly asked to attend the site to review a problem raised by the Building Certifier during construction. A little bit of forward planning can eliminate those frustrating moments and delays.

We recommend that a review of the design drawings be undertaken prior to the commencement of construction, at the latest. This enables us to guide your design decisions with respect to the built environment, to minimise the potential for a claim abasing you under the Disability Discrimination Act 1993. You are further notified to review your obligations under the Disability Access to Education Standards prepared by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

For any School (BCA Classification 9(b)), with very few exceptions, an accessible unisex bathroom must be provided. The exact circumstances of your development will enable an access consultant to determine whether any of the potential exceptions apply to your development, therefore, you really ought to issue your plans early in the design stages to satisfy yourself that you have adequate floor area and circulation spaces to meet the requirements of the Building Code.

Depending on the door location and plan layout of fitments, the space required for circulation space within an accessible toilet must be at least, say 2640 x 2100mm,  clear of wall linings, tiles and so on. 

There are also mandatory inclusions under AS1428.1 for instance:

  • An accessible pan & seat
  • A sanitary pad disposal unit
  • Grab rails and back rest
  • A vanity basin without plumbing protruding underneath and onto the floor
  • A shelf
  • A coat hook
  • A door with a minimum clear opening of 850mm (a 920 door leaf might just achieve that depending on the installation technique and thickness of the door).
  • Adequate lighting
  • A non slip floor surface
  • appropriatr accessible signage
  • accessible door furniture

It’s a best case scenario to send us your plans prior to the commencement of construction (at the latest) so that your layout can be certified as capable of compliance prior to your commencement.

 

 

You’re a tenant and you’re establishing a new business, a restaurant for example, in a building that is required to be accessible, and you’re wondering about that new toilet. Should it be accessible? Where do I start? What are the regulations for a disabled toilet in NSW?

Don’t get caught out. In our restaurant example, the building code in NSW requires accessible sanitary facilities where there are 20 or more occupants in the building. If your building has accessible facilities for use by your patrons, then you’re in luck. Otherwise, you'll need to provide an accessible WC capable of compliance with the Australian Standards 1428.1. There are very few exceptions established by an examination of the Disability access to Premises Standards 2010, which we can assess only by examination of the peculiar circumstances of your development.

Depending on the door location and plan layout of fitments, the space required for circulation space within an accessible toilet must be at least, say 2640 x 2100mm,  clear of wall linings, tiles and so on. 

 

There are also mandatory inclusions for instance:

  • An accessible pan & seat
  • Grab rails and back rest
  • A vanity basin without plumbing protruding underneath and onto the floor
  • A shelf
  • A coat hook
  • A door with a minimum clear opening of 850mm (a 920 door leaf might just achieve that depending on the installation technique and thickness of the door).
  • Adequate lighting
  • A non slip floor surface

 

It’s a best case scenario to send us your plans prior to the commencement of construction so that your layout can be certified as capable of compliance prior to your commencement. We get calls from people who have been rejected by there certifier on completion, every week. You don’t want to be that person.