Universal Design Principles
The layout, design and specification of amenities provided within a building should all be considered at the beginning of the design stage of any project. By considering the spatial and detailed requirements, e.g. equipment to be installed, of a facility at the outset, Curtin University and designers will be able to provide facilities that meet the needs of the broadest range of people and be universally designed.
Within the Curtin context internal amenities should:
- Be positioned off the accessible path of travel where there is no potential to create a hazard. Where possible set amenities and equipment such as bins or water dispensers into niches within corridors.
- Be designed so that wayfinding strategies meets the requirements for wayfinding systems in AS1428.4.2 Section 2, such as shorelines, pathway incorporating a textural surface, wayfinding information points and information at wayfinding decision points.
Within the Curtin context entry foyers should:
- Position the reception desk so that there is a clear view of from the entry point. Use colour and lighting to make the reception desk, or information point a focal point.
- Be designed so that there is a clear view from the entry point to the lift and stairs, where provided.
- Provide wheelchair circulation spaces that enable appropriate changes of direction for both the receptionist and visitors.
- Include consideration of acoustics that promotes clear speech intelligibility. Balance hard reflecting surfaces with soft, sound absorbing options.
- Provide a variety of seating options for people who are waiting /meeting others.
- Provide a suitable space and amenity that will enable a person using a power wheelchair or mobility scooter to store and /or charge their mobility device. More information about scooter parking and storage is provided in Section 13.5 below.
An assistance dog is specifically trained by an accredited organisation to enhance the mobility and independence of a person with a disability, for example a guide dog or a hearing impairment dog. An assistance dog will wear a recognised form of identification.An assistance dog is likely to need access to a toilet area, in close proximity to a building. Furnish an area, close to entry foyers with shelter, a grass patch and a water tap.
Within the Curtin context reception desks should:
- Provide a standing and a lowered section of counter to facilitate use by people in either the standing or seated position. Knee and footplate space at the lowered section is to be appropriate to the tasks to be undertaken by any visitor using a wheelchair. A balance between an ergonomic posture for staff and accessibility by visitors will need to be achieved.
- Provide even lighting that will adequately illuminate the face of any visitor or staff member, as this will aid visual communication and lip reading. Avoid light sources directly behind the receptionist as a silhouette effect can occur, limiting visual communication.
- Avoid glazed security screen that are subject to a strong light source or grilles that may be a barrier to communication or cause confusing reflections and glare.
- Provide hearing augmentation systems with signage at key, high usage reception counters and those that are furnished with security screens.
- Provide non-reflective surfaces. The front of the reception desk should be in luminance contrast to the work surface so that it is readily, visually identifiable.
Wheelchairs and mobility scooters
Within the Curtin context entry foyers consider the following for wheelchairs and mobility scooters:
- Mobility scooters are varying sizes and many are considered too cumbersome to move through buildings. However it is reasonable that mobility scooters be parked inside a building, away from any inclement weather.
- Each entry foyer is to have a space outside of the path of travel that is of sufficient space to house a mobility scooter and wheelchair. The footprint sized of the 90th percentile wheelchair is available in AS1428.1 2009 and for information on spaces required for a parked scooter refer to the section on mobility scooters in the Appendix of this document -Disability Awareness.
The contemporary approach to charging power wheelchairs and mobility scooters is to use a power outlet that can charge any electronic device, located in a central, easy to access position.
Within the Curtin context power outlets should:
- Be within reach range and meet AS1428 1 2009 Clause 14.1.
- Have an adjacent spacious, level floor space with sufficient dimension to allow power wheelchair and mobility scooter users to park, charge their mobility device and transfer out of or transfer into another mobility device for indoor use. Turning spaces for wheelchairs is provided in AS1428.1 2009 Clause 6.5. For information on turning spaces required for mobility scooters refer to the section on mobility scooters in the Appendix of this document -Disability Awareness.
Within the Curtin context internal seating should:
- Be provided in reception areas and along routes where waiting is likely. Ideally locate seating close to toilet facilities and reception desks or information points.
- Be lightweight, moveable, where flexibility of spaces is required.
- Meet the needs of all users. As no one style or size of seating will suit all users, where possible provide a variety of styles and sizes.
- Include seating that is stable with a backrest, ideally some with and some without armrests, with a seat height between 450-520mm.
- Be in luminance contrast to the surrounding wall and floor surfaces so that it can be readily identifiable.
- Not encroach into paths of travel. The use of floor finishes that are different in texture or colour can be useful to delineate seating areas from adjacent circulation routes to other facilities, particularly within large waiting areas.
- Include circulation spaces required to access seating, by a person using a pram, wheelchair or scooter, enabling people using mobility aids to position themselves alongside the seating.
- At internal gathering points, be accompanied by a power outlet as described above, to enable recharging of power wheelchairs in addition to electronic devices.
Within the Curtin context water dispensers should:
- Be set back from a path of travel, away from the corner of a room, with sufficient circulation space in front to enable a person using a wheeled mobility aid to access via a front or side-on approach. Orientate the spout and controls towards the wheelchair circulation space.
- Provide an activation method that is easy to use by all people and can be operated by the hand, forearm or elbow.
- Be a height that meets the needs of all people, both standing and seated.
- Include any disposable cup dispenser, located within a reach range for all people (700- 1200mm high) and away from an internal corner.
Learning areas include a simple classroom with moveable furniture, a tiered lecture theatre or more complex environment designed for practical learning, such as laboratories and simulated work areas. All areas of all learning spaces must be designed to accommodate people of all abilities and equipment and activities should minimise required effort, provide options for operation, and accommodate right and left-handed students as well as those with a range of physical disabilities.
Within the Curtin context learning areas should:
- Provide circulation spaces that meet the needs of all users and provide spaces for people using mobility aids at a variety of locations. In some instances light moveable furniture will allow for a flexible space.
- Include flexibility for wheelchair users, within tiered seating areas. This could be obtained by designing in sections of ‘removable seats’.
- Design fixed seating to meet the needs of all people. Refer to Seating above.
- Provide a means of access for all people to raised podiums, platforms and stages. Ensure that all means of access and circulation spaces meet the needs of people using wheeled mobility aids.
- Give consideration to the following. In situations where it is not possible or practical to provide a flexible or accessible designed equipment within more complex learning areas, for example equipment within a chemistry laboratory, ensure that there is a clear continuous accessible path of travel that meets the needs of all users from the entrance to the equipment. Ensure that circulation spaces enable people using mobility aids to manoeuvre themselves into a position to utilise the equipment. Whilst height adjustable equipment may be a viable option it may be necessary to make modification to complex equipment with specific safety implications, to meet the needs of individuals with specific physical, vision or cognitive needs. Before purchasing or installing equipment give consideration to how the design could be modified if and when required.
- Position presentation equipment, power outlets and controls to meet the needs of all, ensuring that controls are easy to operate by all people.
- Where there is installed Audio Visual equipment, make provisions for students with a hearing impairment. Provide an assistive listening device and identify the space with hearing augmentation
- Specify amenities such as air conditioning, ceiling fans, automatic doors with low background noise levels to reduce interference with hearing augmentation systems.
- Provide lighting that illuminates the face and body of presenters to facilitate lip reading and sign language communication, meeting the requirements of AS1428.5 2010 – Section 8. Lighting Specifications to consider illumination, lighting direction, contrast and glare.
Queuing and temporary barriers
Should queuing be required then the arrangement should enable all people to move along the queue conveniently, safely and as comfortably as possible.
Within the Curtin context any barriers and queuing should:
- Give consideration to the likely numbers queuing and the speed in which they will move through the queue.
- Provide seating in close proximity.
- Preferably, provide barriers that are firmly fixed to the floor and arranged in parallel and logical lines. In all situations where temporary barriers are used, ensure that adequate circulation space is maintained for all building users and stanchions and belts are in luminance contrast against surrounding surfaces.
- Provide permanent barriers that are tactually detectable by users of a long cane, by provision of a kerb or kerb rail between stanchions, no less than 200mm above floor level.
- Where a kerb or kerb rails are installed circulation spaces should meet the requirements for turning, if required. Where temporary barriers are used circulation spaces are more flexible as wheelchair footplates can pass under the belt, providing a more flexible space to undertake a turn.
Intercoms, switches and controls
Within the Curtin context any intercoms, switches and controls should:
- Provide luminance contrast between any switch and the background surface.
- Give consideration to appropriately timed automatic lighting, as this will meet the needs of all people.
- Ensure that people are not required to move through an unlit area to locate a light switch. Where required use two way switching.
- Ensure that there is a clear, unimpeded floor area directly in front of any switches, controls and intercoms. The circulation space is to be relative to the manoeuvering that would be required by a person using a wheelchair.
- Specify controls that can be used with one hand and are large and easy to grip. Avoid switches that have to be turned or require a small pincer grip.
- Specify control buttons that sit proud of the surface and of a colour that is in luminance contrast to the backing plate.
- Provide large rocker style switches and lever handles that are easy to use and can be operated by an arm or elbow.
- Provide any instructions or information pertinent to controls or intercoms to meet the requirements for Signage above.
- Include any component of an intercom that receives speech at a height capable of detecting speech from the seated position, ensuring that it is not positioned too low for a person who is standing, who may have difficulty stooping or bending.
Tea preparation and kitchens
Within the Curtin context tea preparation areas and kitchens should:
- Have the following information applied as appropriate to the function of food preparation areas in staff and student communal tea preps and kitchens in residential accommodation.
- Preferably have an open plan arrangement as this maximises circulation space and avoids the need for people to pass through doors whilst carrying trays, plates or drinks.
- Provide a flexible arrangement with opportunities to relocate kitchen items to meet the needs of individuals. For example a microwave oven can be relocated to a bench if required or a boil point, for safety reasons, located above the reach range for a person who is seated, can be supplemented with an electric kettle at bench height.
- Consider designing an L shaped or U shaped arrangements as this design is generally more efficient than galley style kitchens as it provides a continuous work surface which is more useful to people who need to slide rather than carry items from one work surface to another.
- Provide bench heights at two different levels, 900mm for people standing and 760mm for people who are seated (with adequate knee space for people using wheelchairs), or height adjustable work surfaces, as this will meet the needs of the majority of people. Information regarding design elements for accessible benches is provided in AS1428.2 1992 Clause 24.
- Have bench corners that are rounded.
- Provide easy access to the back of drawers.
- Provide bench space adjacent opening doors of appliances.
- Provide one shallow sink as this allows a person who is seated to reach to the bottom.
- Provide knee space under one section of bench. Consider moveable storage units (that can be slid under the open underside of a bench) as a balance between adequate storage and provision of knee space for people who use wheelchairs.
- For ease of access for people who are seated, locate fixed elements such as ovens, fridges and sinks away from an internal corner, enabling a person using a wheelchair to pull up alongside and open a door or operate an appliance.
- Install GPOs at an accessible to all people, no closer than 500mm from an internal corner, 900-1100mm high and within 300mm of the front of a bench.
- Select surfaces that are non-reflective. The front of the cabinetry should be in luminance contrast to the work surface so that it is readily identifiable.
- Select cupboard doors that can be hinged to 180°.
Adopting the Principles of Universal Design will ensure that all sanitary facilities are be easy to find and navigate, require low effort, have easy to use fittings and fixtures and adequate lighting and sufficient luminance contrast to identify the important features.
Within the Curtin context all sanitary facilities should:
- Be a variety of styles that meet the anticipated volume of users. With layouts that can be used by people of all abilities and styles that are appropriate to all cultural needs, the unisex accessible toilets will be used for the purpose for which they were intended.
- Be conveniently located in close proximity to main entrances, any waiting areas and other key facilities.
- Where feasible, eliminate doors to entrances of male and female toilets, whilst still maintaining privacy and dignity, as this will negate the requirement to open heavy doors on narrow airlocks, aid navigation and enhance the physical safety of users.
- Be kept unlocked. Locating a key or a member of staff may delay access to the toilet causing, at the least, unnecessary comfort for people who experience a sense of urgency.
- Provide adequate lighting in all sanitary facilities and cubicles to enable location of public items and private articles.
- Install both visual and auditory emergency warning systems into all sanitary facilities, parenting and resting rooms.
- Specify sensor or lever taps in all instances.
- Install coat hooks all cubicles and provide adequate shelving adjacent to basins.
- Provide a comfortable and easy to use space in all male and female toilet cubicles. Space should allow manoeuvrability for all users.
- Install well designed hand basins that adequately contain water, without splashing.
- Consider placement of full length mirror (appropriately framed so it does not appear to be an opening) on an end wall, to assist in the safety of people unable to hear when a person enters behind them.
- Consider installing wall mounted grab rails on either side of urinals to provide both left and right hand support options.
- Provide sensor operated hand dryers that do not require the accurate placement of hands into a restricted aperture. Provide a paper towel option.
- Install any lockers in a communal area at a range of heights suitable for people who are standing or seated.
- Where designated communal change areas are provided, provide circulation spaces and facilities that meet the needs of people with mobility disabilities.
Unisex accessible sanitary facilities (UAT)
Within the Curtin context all unisex accessible sanitary facilities should:
- Be designed with a seamless transition from adjoining corridors or rooms. Ensure that all approach circulation spaces, at a minimum meet the requirements of AS1428.1 2009, and avoid airlocks and a succession of doors along any entrance corridor.
- Be of an attractive design that is keeping with the aesthetic treatments in male and female toilet facilities.
- Have the required circulation spaces kept clear. It is not appropriate to use this room for additional storage or provide a portable baby change within the room.
- Where emergency call bells are provided, be installed adjacent the toilet pan in a location that can be reached by a person sitting on the toilet pan or a person who may have fallen onto the floor. Ensure that the emergency call bell reset switch is in reach of the user.
- Have any emergency call system supported by a robust and sustainable response procedure, by a person who is trained to give assistance.
- Where toilet and shower facilities are combined, provide a layout that does not require a person, using the toilet only, to walk or wheel over a potentially wet and slippery floor surface.
- Have a grab rail strength towel rail within a combined toilet and shower facility, as this will add additional support for a user.
- Avoid locking any UATs. Should this be necessary, in exceptional circumstances, utilise the Master Locksmiths Access Key (MLAK) system.
- Position fittings and fixtures to allow for limited reach range and ease of use.
- Consider outward opening doors to maximise the use of the internal circulation space. Ensure that any outward opening door is recessed so that it does not create a hazard to any passing pedestrian flow.
- Make every effort to meet the individual needs of a specific staff member or student. Ensure that changes will not restrict usage by others and attempt to make changes in a UAT where there is an alternative located in close proximity.
- Provide equitable and dignified sanitary facilities for all people. Where other staff have access to a toilet designates as ‘staff use only’ also, provide a UAT. Staff should not be expected to use a UAT designated specifically for visitor or public use.
- Only have a baby change table installed in accordance with AS1428.1. Ensure that they are not installed in a UAT that could be dominated by people changing babies where there is a possibility of preventing, or considerably delaying vacancy, for people with disabilities.
Ensure those responsible for cleaning/ restocking UATs understand the importance of restocking and maintaining wheelchair circulation spaces that are clear of obstructions such as bins or storage items.
Changing Places sanitary facility
A Changing Places sanitary facility provides a suitable space, fittings, fixtures and equipment to meet the toileting needs of people unable to access a unisex accessible toilet. It allows people with severe or profound disabilities and their carers to undertake hygiene requirements with suitable equipment, such as an adult change table and hoist, within a dignified environment.
Within the Curtin context any Changing Places facility should:
- Have, in consultation with users, the necessity determined at the early stages of building planning for provision of a Changing Places facility, with an aim to provide across the Curtin university campus regularly placed facilities.
For information on the design, signage and official registration of Changing Places facilities refer to www.changingplaces.org.au
Within the Curtin context all resting rooms should:
- Be provided for people who have fatigue and need space for recuperation during the day.
- Be able to be accessed and used by all people. Provide sufficient space adjacent a bed to enable a person using a wheelchair to undertake a transfer onto the bed.
- Preferably provide a height adjustable bed. Any fixed bed to have a mattress of a height between 480 – 500mm.
- Have a locking device so that the room can be locked when in use- refer to AS1428.1 2009 Clause 15.2.9 for information regarding door locks and in use indicators.
Within the Curtin context parenting rooms should:
- Provide adequate circulation space for a pram and an adult or child using a wheeled mobility aid.
- Provide supportive seating.
- Include private feeding cubicles that meet the needs of people with mobility impairments. A curtain style partition provides flexibility of circulation space.
- Consider applicable elements of any tea preparation space for example access to a sink and provision of a microwave at bench height.
- Preferably include a wall mounted, horizontal style or bench style change table with knee clearance, rather than moveable, folding styles.
- Provide shelf space adjacent to and at same height as any change table.