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Internal Access

Universal Design Principles

Achieve a logical arrangement of rooms and spaces within a building as this strategy will facilitate independent navigation for all people without undue reliance on signage or assistance. Other features such as use of repetitive materials and surfaces, lighting, plantings or fragrances can aid wayfinding for people with vision and cognitive disabilities.

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context internal access should:

  • Give careful consideration, during the planning stage, to the location of internal pillars and columns, locating these outside of circulation spaces.
  • Provide floor surfaces without bold patterns. Consider plain, mottled, or small pattern with complimentary colours.
  • Avoid designing in large areas of shiny polished surfaces that create glare and reflection. Use matte or satin finishes only.
  • Give consideration to all elements that influence the acoustics of a building. These can include the geometry of a room space, surfaces and finishes and the relationship to external noises.
  • Be designed so that wayfinding through buildings 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.
  • Give careful consideration to any glazing. Glazed panels at the end of a corridor will require specific treatment to avoid appearing as an opening. Glazing should not create confusing reflections as this can be distracting and potentially hazardous.
  • Provide Luminance contrast between surfaces to highlight focal points such as doors (in addition to mandatory requirements for door luminance contrast) and location of stairways and lifts.
  • Where required, have hazard markings in accordance with AS1428.1 2009. Consider the provision of a second band 1400-1600mm above floor level.
  • Include signage throughout buildings to meet the requirements of AS1428.4.2 Section 3.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context internal doorways should:

  • Be easy to identify, wide and easy to operate.
  • Be recessed for safety, in circumstances where they open outwards into a corridor.
  • Be recessed, to assist in wayfinding for people with a significant vision impairment.
  • Include the use of a colour contrast flooring within corridors at accessible doorways.
  • Have door handles in luminance contrast to the face of the door.
  • Where glazed, have the lower edge not less than 300mm and not more than 1000mm above floor level.
  • Have vision panels as they enable people to see when another person is approaching the door on the other side and to gauge the type and size of the space that they are about to enter. Visibility panels are to be accessible to all and should be between 400-1600mm above the floor, be at least 150mm wide and positioned no more than 200mm from the leading edge of the door.
  • Where required, have door closers that are reasonably light to operate and slow to close.

Vertical access

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context vertical access should:

  • Include both stairs and ramps as they offer an efficient and effective alternative route to lifts. Vertical access should be easy to find, ideally co-located, or clearly signed so that people do not have to ask for directions or be delayed by having to search for an alternative route.
  • Not include a single or isolated step as these present a trip hazard.
  • Where required, off a wide open space with no perceptible wayfinding cues, consider installation of directional tactile ground surface indicators.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context internal stairways should:

  • Not be eliminated from a design as they are an efficient and effective means of moving people between levels. However, stairways must not be the sole means of access.
  • Be located as centrally as possible, either to the side of, or perpendicular to the dominant path of travel. Stairs can present a hazard to people with reduced vision, particularly when located in the direct line of travel.
  • Be of a width appropriate to the purpose of the environment. Where a stairway specifically designated as an escape stairs is used as means of regular access for people moving between levels, it should be designed and constructed to the requirements of AS1428.1 2009.
  • Ideally enclosed underneath. If a stairway is not enclosed and protection for a potential overhead obstruction is required, designing-in an architectural or physical barrier such as seating, well designed artwork or planting is a more effective and universally understood barrier than installation of warning style tactile ground surface indicators.
  • Be lit consistently along the stair flight with non-glare illumination. Light coming through an adjacent window or fully glazed stairwells can disorientate people with a vision loss.
  • Have the bottom step set back sufficiently to ensure that handrail extensions and tactile ground surface indicators do not encroach into any transverse pedestrian path of travel.
  • Have regular risers for the whole stairway, as irregular risers present people who are blind, and those who anticipate consistency and predictability, with a serious hazard.
  • Have the bottom step on all landings offset for one tread length, to ensure that the handrail installation can comply with AS128.1 2009.
  • Meet AS1428.2 1992 Clause 13.2 and Figure 8 for stair depth and rise.
  • Where hazard strips on stair nosings comprise a metal frame with a coloured insert, ensure that the insert is a single colour only.
  • Have stair handrails that are in luminance contrast to background.
  • Where a stairway is wide, provide a centrally located handrail. This design is both acceptable and advantageous.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context internal lifts should:

  • Be provided in a central location close to major access stairs.
  • Be kept unlocked (available for independent use) at all times that a building is open to students, staff or the public. This includes lifts that are specifically designed for people with disabilities.
  • Have a car size that will accommodate any change in direction required to exit the lift. This design detail is also relevant for devices such as low rise lifting platforms.
  • Have dimensions for all lift landings, including lifting platforms with manual swing doors that meet requirements for door circulation spaces. Press button controls for semi –automated lift doors to meet location requirements of AS1428.1 2009 Clause 13.5.3(e) & 13.5.4.
  • Have wall and ceiling surfaces with a matt finish to reduce glare.
  • Have internal lighting levels similar to those outside.
  • Consider adding a half height mirror (handrail to ceiling) on the rear wall of the lift car to assist a person using a wheelchair who may need to reverse out. This design also assists a person with a hearing impairment identify if a person is entering the lift car behind them.
  • Where possible design in lifts in preference to internal ramps. Internal ramps can be of benefit inside an existing building undergoing refurbishment where steps already exist.
  • Provide an emergency call button that illuminates when the operator at the base station has received and understood a call, as this will reduce the anxiety of a person who is deaf. Additional visual information to indicate that the assistance has been dispatched and any expected time delay would also assist.
  • Consider specifying an internal large horizontal control panel with large buttons / numbers that can be easily reached and activated by all people.
  • Wayfinding and signage for lifts is to meet AS1428.4.2 Section 4.
  • Establish a campus wide floor numbering system, ensuring that lift floor numbers between connecting buildings consistently align. Where complex interfaces are unavoidable provide internal lift signage that clearly identifies key elements, for example ‘Exit level for Robertson Theatre’.
  • As a lift is generally the only means of access for people using wheeled mobility aids ensure that there is a regular and sustainable maintenance program.

Emergency Egress

Incorporate all possible physical / structural design, fittings, fixtures and equipment to maximise the safe evacuation of all people, including people who have difficulty negotiating a stairway or mobility or communication impairment, in an emergency situation, as efficiently as possible.

“Unless a person can get out of a building in an emergency, then it is not truly accessible at all” Best Practice Access Guidelines. Designing Accessible Environments. Irish Wheelchair Association p110.

Provision of universally designed and inclusive evacuation for all people is challenging, particularly in multi storey buildings, residential accommodation and where high volumes of people are accommodated for work, educational and research purposes and should be addressed through the physical structure of the building, supported by robust management procedures. Any proposed strategies should be developed and instigated with a person suitably qualified in fire engineering.

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context emergency egress should:

  • Be designed so that all ground level entrances with approach corridors, door circulation space, hardware*, clear open width and luminance contrast treatment and external pathways are in accordance with AS1428.1 2009, to facilitate unimpeded evacuation for all people to the designated place of safety. Further, egress ramps can be considered from upper levels, where this offers a feasible means of escape.

*Note: All design solutions to facilitate evacuation in an emergency situation must not contravene life preservation requirements embedded in the Building Code of Australia.

  • Give consideration to the detail contained within AS3745 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities* when designing new buildings.

*AS3745 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities provides comprehensive information in regards emergency planning and emergency /evacuation procedures with detail in regards provisions for occupants with a disability. In meeting the needs of people with a disability the needs of the broadest number of people are likely to be met in an emergency situation.

  • Give consideration to developing individual Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for staff or regular occupants with disabilities. Any PEEP is to be developed in consultation with the individual.
  • Consider the needs of people who are blind and people who are deaf when designing in communication and warning systems. People with hearing impairment require a visual alert and people with a vision impairment require some form of auditory alarm.
  • Be enhanced with audible warning systems and visual warning system, installed in accessible areas and male, female and accessible sanitary facilities, with the visual alert visible from all cubicles.
  • Consider specification of vibrating systems for persons with a vision or hearing impairment, particularly in buildings where people may be working alone /isolated and in residential accommodation, when a person is sleeping.
  • Enhance emergency egress stairs so that, in addition to the minimum BCA requirements, the following are provided:
    • handrails on both sides
    • sufficient stairway width to facilitate variables in body anthropometrics, assisted egress for people with a disability who may require the support of another person or who is reliant on evacuation equipment and to allow for contraflow of emergency personnel
    • a refuge area (see detail below)
  • Provide emergency evacuation equipment to facilitate assisted egress.
  • Design emergency egress stairs (and all escape routes) so that any proposed evacuation equipment can be stored in a convenient location without risk of the equipment obstructing the escape route.
  • Specify lifts within new buildings that can be used for evacuation purposes in an emergency situation. Any such strategy to be resolved with a person suitably qualified in fire engineering.
  • Specify and install signage that displays an accessible egress symbol to indicate to all building users accessible egress routes, location /provision of evacuation lifts, egress stairways, location of emergency evacuation equipment and refuge areas.
  • Provide evacuation plans at all required areas on all levels of a building at a height to suit people seated or standing, enhancing text with pictograms to aid comprehension.

A refuge area should:

  • Be provided in fire-isolated stairways to accommodate a person waiting for assisted evacuation from the building and as a secondary benefit, to offer a space for rest for people with reduced endurance.
  • Include no less than a single wheelchair space 900x 1300mm in dimension. This minimum space is to be ideally increased to accommodate more than one wheelchair user and another person. The space is to be located off the escape route, where the people waiting do not cause an obstruction to those evacuating or the contraflow of emergency personnel.
  • Ideally be equipped with a two communication system suitable for use by people with vision and hearing impairment, linked to a management control point and situated 900-1100 above floor level for use while waiting for assistance to evacuate.
  • Contain instruction as to procedures to be followed and expected response.
  • If a place of refuge is provided ensure it displays the access symbol and is clearly marked.