The requirements for disabled access to buildings dramatically increased with the introduction of the Access to Premises Standards 2010 as legislation in May last year. The standards apply to all new and upgraded buildings throughout Australia with the objective of improving access opportunities for people with a disability. While the movement of a wheelchair is the determining factor in establishing the design parameters, the more rigorous regulations also improve access to buildings for the visual impaired, parents pushing prams and strollers as well as the elderly.
Architects Edmiston Jones (AEJ) have been involved in the design of community facilities, churches and aged care establishments during their 30 years on the New South Wales South Coast. Equitable access for all members of the community is a fundamental design principal and AEJ keep abreast of the evolving regulations. Director, Steven Bayer, recently attended a seminar on the new Access to Premises Standard presented by the Aged and Community Services Association which had a particular emphasis on understanding the impact on aged care developments.
Retrofitting existing buildings presents a particular challenge in meeting current access standards. AEJ’s experience with the Bermagui Medical Centre demonstrated the need for a close understanding of the relevant regulations as well as the careful planning required to come up with the most effective solution both in terms of cost and space.