AUST – HENDRY disability access consultants advise the amendments to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the introduction of AS 1428.1-2009, that supersedes the previous AS 1428.1-2001 (disability access code) edition, has resulted in some significant changes to the disability access and toilet facilities provisions for people with disabilities.
Some of the major Disability Discrimination Act changes, implications and concessions applicable to buildings under building approvals are as follows. Note that the reference to ‘accessible’ in the items below is “having features to enable use by people with a disability” not just defined as exit doors, and to ‘ambulant’ disabilities is “people who have a mobility disability but are able to walk”, different to egress under the BCA.
Disability Access Provisions
- Disability access must be provided through the principal pedestrian entrance and to not less than 50% of all other pedestrian entrances.
- In buildings with a total floor area of more than 500m2, a pedestrian entrance that is not accessible for people with disabilities must not be located more than 50m from an accessible pedestrian entrance.
- Where a doorway has multiple leaves (except an automatic opening door) one of the leaves must have a clear opening width of not less than 850mm.
- Increased clear opening width of doorways from 800mm to now 850mm.
- Accessways must have passing spaces and turning spaces at intervals and locations in accordance with D3.3 (c), (d) and (e).
- Every ramp and stairway, (other than fire isolated stairways) must comply with clause 10 and 11 of AS 1428.1-2009, which states that stair risers must be opaque, have luminance contrast nosing strips at each tread (50-75mm deep), tactile indicators, complying handrails to both sides of the stair and ramps and where practicable, around stair landings are to be installed.
- Fire isolated stairways must have luminance contrast nosing strips at each tread.
- A passenger lift or ramp is not required to serve a storey, other than the entrance storey, in a building containing not more than 3 storeys and with a floor area for each storey, excluding the entrance storey of not more than 200m².
- Carpet pile heights and thickness limitations under clause D3.3(g) and (h).
- An exemption to not require access in accordance with AS 1428.1-2009 in an area that would pose a health or safety risk for people with a disability.
- AS /NZS 2890.6-2009 has been adopted for the dimensions and clearances required for the design of car parking spaces for people with disabilities. The width of car parking spaces have been reduced to 2.4m, however the shared area for access to and from the vehicle has increased.
- Tactile indicators previously only had to be provided at stairs, ramps and escalators used by the public, now they must be provided at all stairs (other than fire isolated stairways), ramps and escalators for public and staff, etc.
- Increased wheelchair requirements in class 9b assembly buildings in accordance with clause D3.10.
- Class 3 accommodation buildings must have accessible rooms and one for each common area.
- Class 1b and 2 changes under the BCA.
- Access requirements for Public Transport Buildings.
- Increased motif/markings on doors and sidelights that could be mistaken for a doorway or opening in accordance with clause D3.12 and clause 6.6 of AS 1428.1.
- Increased requirements for hearing augmentation in class 9b buildings, meeting and conference rooms, the previous 100m² concession has been removed.
- Increased and improved Braille, tactile and directional signage requirements.
- The introduction of a wider range of passenger lift options, with limitations on use under clause E3.6 and specific features that each lift type must have.
Disability Access Toilet Facilities
- Generally a unisex accessible toilet must be provided on every storey where there are toilets.
- If there is more than one bank of toilets on any floor then unisex accessible toilets must be provided at not less than 50% of those banks of toilets.
- An ambulant accessible toilet, in addition to a unisex accessible toilet, must now be provided.
- Left and right handed toilet facilities for people with disabilities must be provided where there is more than one accessible toilet provided.
- A back rest is required at the accessible toilet and the circulation spaces and clearances have increased in accessible toilets.
- The dimensions, grab rails, doors and signage requirements for people with ambulant disabilities are provided in section 16 of AS 1428.1-2009.