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What is a Disability Access Consultant?

A Disability Access Consultant will provide design advice to achieve compliance with the minimum prescriptive requirements of the Building Code of Australia, and the Access to Premises Standards under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Additionally, a good access consultant can also provide recommendations to reduce risk and provide a more inclusive environment for everyone.

Who is ACAA?

The Association of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA) is a national, membership-based, professional association for people working to achieve accessibility in the built environment for all. It is the peak national body for Access Consultants in Australia. MAA consultants are members of ACAA.

Do I need to use an accredited access consultant?

No, that is your choice. However, Accredited Members of ACAA have been proven to hold the necessary qualifications and experience to achieve accredited membership. Using an access consultant without accreditation is a risk-based decision by any organisation.

An Accredited Member:

  • supports the objectives of ACAA;
  • participates in the Association’s Continuing Professional Development Program;
  • is engaged in access consulting in some way on an ongoing basis;
  • has been an Associate Member for the specified period;
  • has suitable experience in the industry;
  • is supported in their application for accreditation by at least two other Accredited Members of ACAA; and
  • must have passed an Accreditation Membership Test

Where is MAA located?

Melbourne Access Audits, or MAA, has offices at 44 Lakeview Drive, Scoresby, Victoria.

This is in the inner eastern suburbs of Melbourne and our building is literally metres from an exit off the Eastlink freeway.

However, we have a national presence and can work all over Australia completing audits. Additionally, many services offered by MAA can be completed remotely (such as design reviews, Performance Solutions and Professional Opinions).

What experience does MAA have?

MAA has years of collective experience. Principal Consultant and Director, Lee Wilson, is a leader in the field of accessibility and universal design and an active campaigner for inclusive design. You can read more about this experience here.

Can you work all over Australia?

Yes, we are able to undertake access audits in any State or Territory.

In fact, over the years, Principal Consultant and Director, Lee Wilson has audited in Tokyo, Japan and presented in Shanghai, China.

What is a Level 1 Access Audit?

Level 1 Access Audits are a high-level appraisal of a built environment to provide an indication of the probable level of accessibility.

They assess representative areas of the building and key accessible features such as common area stairs, passenger lifts, accessible car parking and entrances.

What is a Level 2 Access Audit?

Level 2 Access Audits include the base-level Level 1 audit methodology, but also include a limited detailed audit of nominated areas (such as car parking or toilets). The MAA methodology provides an overview of the level of compliance, with representative photographs and legislative references

What is a Level 3 Access Audit?

Level 3 Access Audits are a highly detailed inspection to identify accessibility non-compliances in the built environment. The MAA methodology assesses each accessible feature and reports on identified issues, with photographs, legislative references, risks assessed, and each location clearly described for future reference. General advice will be provided to achieve compliance in all aspects of relevant building and disability legislation with best-practice and universal design recommendations

What is a stair?

A stair is a connection between steps, when two or more steps are used in a series, then this constitutes a stair and all the BCA Clause D3.3(a) stair requirements are triggered (i.e. tactile indicators, handrail on both sides, compliant profile of handrail and treads, opaque risers, and contrasting nosing strips to each tread). Two or more steps are referred to as a stair flight and a stair flight must have no more than 18 risers (or steps) before an intermediate landing is required.

How steep can a ramp be?

The grade of a ramp is dependant on the use and location of the ramp. The following is a summary of the types of ramps prescribed in the BCA and Premises Standards:

  • Kerb ramps – located in car parks and onto footpaths. 1:8 grade, up to 190mm rise for a 1520mm maximum length.
  • Threshold ramps – located in doorways. 1:8 grade, up to 35mm rise for a 280mm maximum length.
  • Step ramps – located inside or outside a building. 1:10 grade, up to 190mm rise for a 1900mm maximum length.
  • Access ramps – located inside or outside a building. 1:14 grade, up to a 9m maximum length in each section 9and between landings).

What is the main access standard used in buildings?

AS 1428.1-2009 specifies the minimum design requirements for new building work, as required by the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards (Premises Standards), to provide access for people with disabilities.

What is the DDA?

The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) is an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, publicly available premises, provision of goods and services, accommodation, clubs and associations, and other contexts.

Can I comply with the DDA?

In some ways yes, in others no. The DDA does have prescriptive requirements outlined in the Disability Standards (relating to access to premises, education and public transportation). These reference relevant Australian Standards such as AS 1428.1, AS/NZS  1428.4.1 and AS/NZS 2890.6.

But in other regards, this is risk-based and owners and managers of facilities should look to best-practice recommendations to reduce any potential risk and to look for opportunities to enhance the built environment.

Common examples of enhanced accessible features found in buildings outside the Premises Standards requirements are outlined in other Australian Standards and Guides, such as AS 1428.2, AS 1428.5 and the like. They include Changing Places toilets, reception counters and drinking fountains with clearances underneath for wheelchair users and other similar universal design concepts.

What is luminance contrast?

Luminance contrast has been defined as the light reflected from one surface or component, compared to the light reflected from another surface or component. To complete this comparison, one must determine the Luminance Reflectance Values of each surface and compare them using a formula such a the Bowman Sapolinki Formula for building elements, being C = 125 (Y2 − Y1)/(Y1 + Y2 + 25).

What is hearing augmentation?

In the April 2016 Review of the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010, the Australian Government defined hearing augmentation as the communication of information for people who are deaf or hearing impaired by using a combination of audio, visual and tactile means.” The review also stated that the provision of an effective hearing augmentation system is aimed at assisting people with a hearing impairment to access communications associated with a building’s use.

Hearing augmentation system options to comply with the prescriptive requirements of the BCA and Premises Standards include:

  • Audio frequency induction loop systems (hearing aid and cochlear implant T-switches can be used, or receivers provided to those without a T-switch on their hearing aids); or
  • Frequency modulation with individual receivers worn by users to receive radio waves (i.e. a FM transmitter/receiver systems); or
  • Infra-red transmitter/receiver system, where individual receivers are worn by users to receive infra-red beams by a direct line of sight.

Do I need a blue toilet seat in the accessible bathroom?

No, not at all. The toilet just needs to stand out when entering the room, so people with low vision know which way to travel to find the toilet pan. The toilet pan seat needs to have a high luminance contrast to the wall, or floor or actual toilet pan itself (just one combination is compliant).

What is a Performance Solution?

A Performance Solution, or an Alternative Solution, means a method of complying with the Performance Requirements of the BCA other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.

The BCA is a performance-based document and allows this form of compliance. However, the Performance Solution should be documented by an experienced and accredited access consultant, with qualifications in performance-based building codes to ensure it is prepared properly and in accordance with the methodology of BCA Part A0.

Is an Alternative Solution the same thing as a Performance Solution?

Yes. They are exactly the same. The term Alternative Solution was used in the BCA until the release of BCA 2016. BCA Clause A1.1 now says that an Alternative Solution means a Performance Solution.

What is the BCA?

The BCA is one part of the National Construction Code Complete Series. The Building Code of Australia or BCA is Volume One. The BCA is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia, which allows for variations in climate and geological or geographic conditions. The BCA contains the requirements for Class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public) buildings and structures. It includes the same disability access requirements included in the Premises Standards Schedule 1 Access Code.

Where can I get a copy of the BCA?

You can download a copy of the current National Construction Code Complete Series or just the Building Code of Australia Volume 1 from the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Where can I get a copy of the DDA?

You can download a copy of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 from a number of sources, including theFederal Register of Legislation.

What is an ambulant toilet?

An ambulant toilet is a toilet designed to provide for people with reduced mobility or an ambulatory disability. The design includes a 900mm to 920mm width, a 900mm space between any part of the door/doorway and the toilet pan, and grabrails on each side. These are a great toilet design for people who are larger, obese or pregnant. In each toilet bank needs to be an ambulant toilet available for male and female use.

What is an ambulatory disability?

“Ambulatory disability” means:

  • A physical and permanent disability to such a degree that the person is unable to move from place to place without the aid of a wheelchair;
  • Not able to cross curbs because of paralysis or loss of function of the person’s legs;
  • Is missing one or both legs; or
  • Has a permanently impaired or unsteady gait that makes it impossible or impractical to walk as a means of transportation.