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Building or refurbishing a school, preschool or children’s centre can be done so that it’s easier for people to access and take part in education.
Designing for everyone in this way is sometimes called universal design. The Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability (MAC:CSWD) has written a report that is a resource for people who plan, design and build new and renovated sites.
All children and students with disability have the right to take part in education. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it unlawful to discriminate in education because of disability.
Children and students with disability have a right to an education in the same way that other students do. This right is supported if facilities are designed, planned and built to give the best access, participation and learning.
Universal design is about designing facilities that are flexible, adaptable and that everyone can use. There are specific features that will benefit everyone at education and care sites. These are things like:
- ramps with gentle gradients
- doors and door handles that are easy to open
- exits and entrances that are wide
- buttons and controls that are easy to see, for example by being large and in contrasting colours to the background.
Everyone who is involved in the design, planning and building of facilities needs to think about people’s abilities. They need to consider how the environment can be made easy for people with different needs. It’s important to understand that people are different in many ways, including their:
- size and weight
- ability to get around
- ability to interpret or understand information.
Different people will have different supports that they need, such as wheelchairs, assistance animals, and communication devices. The site should be able to accommodate these things.
It’s also important that teachers and staff know how to use the facilities and equipment so that children and students can be supported and safe.
Children and students with disability and their families must be asked what things they need to be able to best use a facility. They should have a say in the design, planning and building of facilities.
There are qualified disability and access experts who understand universal design and the needs of people with disability. They need to have a say in building or renovation projects.
Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability
Phone: (08) 8226 3632
Email: decdminadv [at] sa.gov.au