The standards for accessible design set out by DDA, the BCA, and Australian Standards are very complex and subject to constant change. Legal action over compliance and equal property access is increasing at an astounding rate. Business and property owners are often subject to substantial, unexpected liability for equal access.
DDA Design specialises in providing practical, sensible advice on designing areas to accommodate disability access and relevant legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act, Building Code of Australia, and Suite of Australian Standards. Following these standards is vital for organisations in both public and private sectors.
There is a host of considerations for all of these concerns. Main floors must be close to the grade of the building site to eliminate the need for ramps when possible. Hallways and doors must be designed wider, and thresholds that link surfaces should be as even as possible. Door handles should be levers instead of knobs, and thermostats and light switches must be placed at an accessible height for those in wheelchairs.
Exits in a commercial area are also important, as a person with a disability may have to quickly exit the building in the event of an emergency. Garages may have to be larger than usual to fit a van with a wheelchair lift, for example. Automated features such as voice-activated doors and electronics can also be critical for commercial areas.
New commercial buildings must be in compliance with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act of 1992. Renovations on existing buildings are subject to various requirements, which are mainly found in the Building Code of Australia.
DDA Design starts considering accessibility before someone even enters a building. We think about the number, size, and configuration of areas like parking spaces, curb cuts, ramps and handrails. Door handles and heft are another important consideration.
On the inside of a commercial building, we look at several features, including horizontal and vertical access, tactile signage installed at the right height, and other important amenities for equal access.