Minimum access standards for the built environment do not guarantee accessibility. Unfortunately, we still have designers who aren’t interested in best practice, just ticking the compliance box. It also means that access is a last thought and remedies, such as ramps, are tacked onto the “grand design”. But universal design should be the grand design if we want equitable and dignified use by all.
The Access to Premises Standard of 2011 has improved accessibility to new buildings, but it is not the total answer. They only go part way in creating inclusive environments. An article in Sourceable addresses some of the issues and the myths that remain within the property industry. The myths are explained in detail in the article and are listed below:
- Access is the same as universal design.
- Universal design in more expensive than access.
- The Australian Standard for Access considers all people with disability.
- The dimensions in the Australian Standard provide independent access for everyone.
- Minimum compliance guarantees all people with disability cannot use everything in a building.
- Access consultants know everything about access, disability and universal design.
The article is by Joe Manton who concludes, “If we allow ourselves to be constrained by the minimum we will never aspire to the maximum. The legacy will be mediocrity.” The title of the article is Minimum Compliance Means Missed Opportunities and Mediocrity.