A person with a disability has a right to have access to places used by the public. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it against the law for public places to be inaccessible to people with a disability.
Access to Premises.
Everybody has a right to access and use public places, such as shops, restaurants, office blocks, educational institutions, sporting venues, libraries and cinemas.
It is against the law for public places to be inaccessible to people with disabilities. This applies to existing places, as well as places under construction. The Disability Discrimination Act requires organisations to make adjustments to their premises so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.
When thinking about accessibility, organisations should consider the many different types of disabilities that people may have, such as mobility impairments, vision impairments and hearing impairments.
Example: It could be unlawful discrimination if a person with a mobility impairment who uses a wheelchair could not enter a cinema because access to the cinema was only available by stairs.
In some circumstances it may be unreasonable to provide complete accessibility to a public building, particularly for existing buildings. The Disability Discrimination Act provides an exception if the cost or difficulties of providing access will place an ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on a person or organisation.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it against the law for public places to be inaccessible to people with a disability.
Places used by the public include:
- Public footpaths and walkways
- Educational institutions
- Shops and department stores
- Banks, credit unions, building societies
- Parks, public swimming pools, public toilets, and pedestrian malls
- Cafes, restaurants, pubs
- Theatres and other places of entertainment
- Lawyers’ offices and legal services
- Sporting venues
- Social and sporting clubs
- Government offices
- Public transport including trains, buses, ferries, boats, ships and planes
- Dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries
- Hairdressers and beauty salons
- Travel agents, and
- Government-run services
This applies to existing places as well as places under construction. To comply with the DDA existing places may need to be modified to be accessible (except where this would involve “unjustifiable hardship”).
What is expected?
Every area and facility open to the public should be open and available to people with a disability. They should expect to enter and make use of places used by the public if people without a disability can do so.
- Places used by the public should be accessible at the entrance and inside
- Facilities in these places should also be accessible (wheelchair-accessible toilets, lift buttons within reach, tactile and audible lift signals for people with vision impairments)
- Rather than being confined to a segregated space or the worst seats, all areas within places used by the public should be accessible to people with a disability.
- Information available to users of the premises should be accessible.
According to the DDA, the length of accessibility ramps that traverse a single step should not exceed 1,900 millimetres. Threshold ramps, or those that cross doorways, are not allowed to be longer than 280 millimetres.
In order to accommodate mobility aids such as wheelchairs and electric scooters, the surface of accessibility ramps should be around 1,000 metres wide. This measurement is also the required space between the ramp handrails.
The gradients of ramps less than 1,900 millimetres long should not go beyond 1:10. As for the smaller threshold ramps, their slope should not exceed 1:8. For ramps that have a length of over 1,900 metres, which are usually installed to traverse a set of stairs, their maximum slope should be 1:14.