The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has produced a new handbook, Upgrading Existing Buildings Handbook. The Preface introduces the document as “one of a series produced by the ABCB … in response to comments and concerns expressed by government, industry and the community that relate to the built environment…on areas of existing regulation or relate to topics which have, for a variety of reasons, been deemed inappropriate for regulation. The aim of the Handbooks is to provide construction industry participants with non-mandatory advice and guidance on specific topics, specifically, buildings classified as Class 2 to 9 in Part A3 of NCC, Volume One”. This is a 47 page document.
Importantly, this handbook outlines a five-step process for scoping proposed new work in existing buildings, with a very strong emphasis at step four to determine whether potential deficiencies are actual deficiencies – i.e. the building does not meet a performance requirement of the National Construction Code. The takeaway message is that Performance Solutions may be the only practical solution to address actual deficiencies, and this is where a Universal Design approach will be most beneficial.
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing invites organisations to complete her survey. Governments, human rights institutions, organisations and networks, including organisations of persons with disability, and other relevant stakeholders, are encouraged to share contributions and inputs for her report. She welcomes information on innovative approaches and successful programmatic and legislative initiatives as well. The survey questionnaire can be accessed in English, French and Spanish by going to the webpage to download in Word or PDF.
There does not seem to be an Easy English version. There are 8 questions – below are the first three:
- Please explain how the right to housing of persons with disabilities is guaranteed in domestic law, including constitutional provisions and human rights legislation.
- Please provide any useful statistical indicators, analysis or reports regarding housing condition of persons with disabilities, the extent of homelessness and discrimination, (including failure to provide reasonable accommodation) in the private or public sectors. Please also provide references to any documentation (written, visual or otherwise) of the lived experiences of the housing conditions of people with disabilities.
- Please provide data on the number of persons with disabilities living in residential institutions and relevant information on the progress towards developing or implementing deinstitutionalisation strategies to facilitate a sustained transition from institutions to community based living arrangements.
Professor Gerard Goggin’s latest publication about internet accessibility covers some history of digital inclusion in Australia as well as related social policy. He and his co-authors discuss how the legal action taken against the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games set a new standard in providing information in accessible formats. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) cites this case as how not to do web accessibility in “A Cautionary Tale of Inaccessibility: Sydney Olympics Website” (W3C, 2009).
However, little progress has been made since the Olympic Games in 2000 as any reporting on web accessibility compliance within the Australian government appears absent. In the United States, legislation is pushing the boundaries, but no such legislation exists in Australia. The article, Internet accessibility and disability policy: lessons for digital inclusion and equality from Australia, also discusses the nexus with the National Broadband Network, the NDIS, and other aspects of social policy. The article concludes, “As the Australian case shows, all these broader social aspects are important coordinates, when it comes to internet policy for digital inclusion to people with disabilities”.
Professor Goggin was a Keynote speaker at the 2nd Australian Universal Design Conference in 2016. You can download an edited transcript.