Accessibility & the Disability Discrimination Act

The majority of complaints to the Human Rights Commission involve disability.  What do you need to do to be accessible?

All new buildings in Australia are expected to provide accessibility to people with disability and mobility issues.  While retrofitting older buildings in necessary to comply with the DDA, there is a “hardship” clause that means institutions can avoid building modifications if they plead “hardship”.

The Australian Human Rights Commission writes:

“Access to premises is covered principally by section 23 of the D.D.A. Note that issues of access to premises can also arise under other provisions of the D.D.A., such as those prohibiting discrimination in employment (section 15), education (section 23), provision of goods, services or facilities (section 24), accommodation (sectin 25), and the administration of Commonwealth laws or programs (section 29).

“Discrimination under section 23 includes

  • refusing to allow a person with a disability to enter premises or use facilities that the public is entitled or allowed to enter or use. For example, refusing to allow a blind person accompanied by a guide dog to enter a restaurant
  • imposing less favourable conditions on a person with a disability in entering premises or using facilities. For example, providing wheelchair access only to more expensive seating areas in a theatre, or providing access which is less convenient, dignified or safe than the access provided for other members of the public
  • requiring a person to leave premises because they have a disability. For example, someone who has slurred speech because of a brain injury being treated as if he or she is intoxicated.

Discrimination is unlawful under section 23 except where it can be shown that removing a barrier to access would impose unjustifiable hardship.”

However, radio stations may come under a clause requiring buildings that are accessible to the public to be accessible to everyone:

The AHRC write:

“Section 23 of the D.D.A. requires non-discriminatory access to premises which the public or a section of the public is entitled or allowed to use.

“Premises” are defined (in section 4) to include “a structure, building, aircraft, vehicle or vessel; and (b) a place whether enclosed or built on or not”.

Some of the premises covered by section 23 would include

  • Public footpaths and walkways
  • Educational institutions
  • Shops
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Parks
  • Public swimming pools
  • Cafes, restaurants and pubs
  • Government service offices
  • Public transport facilities
  • Hospitals and other medical faciliites
  • Cinemas and sports venues
  • Libraries and other information and advice centres
  • Doctors’, lawyers and other professional offices
  • Other premises the public or a part of the public is entitled or allowed to enter or use.”

More info here:

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions-access-premises

Some organisations offer accessibility audits:

https://www.and.org.au/pages/design-for-dignity-retail-guidelines.html

https://www.disabilityaccessconsultants.com.au/access-audit/

 

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