Management Responsibilities Toolkit Preparation

Facilities, equipment, health and safety


Learning environment facilities, equipment and events are fully accessible to all disabled learners and tauira and allow equitable access to these services.

Best practice standards

  1. Facilities and equipment planning incorporates the requirements of disabled learners and occurs in consultation with these learners and disability support staff.
  2. Fire evacuation, health, safety and security procedures consider all disabled learners.
  3. Information technology systems, computer arrangements and assistive technology maximise access to learning and consider the learning support needs of disabled learners.
  4. Arrangements for events (e.g. graduation ceremonies, registration and social events) ensure equal access and amenities for disabled learners.

“Sometimes there is a six-hour gap between classes and it is hard to find a quiet room for people who are neurodiverse or who need to rest.”

- Current disabled learner


"Are the evacuation needs and wishes of disabled learners taken into consideration and documented?" "For example, a learner who uses a wheelchair and has brittle bones does not want to be physically lifted and would rather be transferred to an evac-chair."

- Disability services staff, tertiary institution

Ideas and resources to consider

Facilities and equipment:

  • Facilities include all areas and activities provided to all learners, including libraries, learner accommodation, ceremonies, enrolment, support services, marae, examinations and assessment, administration, spiritual, recreational and teaching facilities.
  • Facilities and equipment planning should take into consideration:
    • The height and layout of classroom tables and lab benches.
    • Appropriate signage and information (e.g. large print and Braille notices, tactile maps).
    • Tone/colour contrasting in the interior and exterior of buildings for those with vision impairments. Buildings with a lot of glass and lack of contrasting can be hard to see.
    • Appropriately located accessible toilets and rest rooms across the learning environment. The design needs to consider that disabled learners using power wheelchairs, scooters or personal carers will require more room and compliance with the minimum standard NZS 4121:2001 may not be sufficient for a tertiary environment.
    • Design, comfort and layout of seating in lecture theatres, computer rooms and labs.
    • Lighting design that supports the needs of learners with vision impairments.
    • Amplification, assistive listening and acoustic systems (e.g. hearing loops or infra-red systems for hearing aid users, acoustic tiles, notification on maps and signs, minimising noise from fans in projection equipment, computers, heating, ventilation).
    • Easy use of equipment for disabled learners in labs, computer and teaching rooms.
    • Alternative safety systems such as flashing light fire alarms.
    • A programme for the ongoing maintenance and updating of facilities and equipment.

Health and safety:

  • The management of the health and safety of disabled learners is a legal requirement of all tertiary providers. Here is an example of how it can go wrong:
    • Build environment access example - forgetting disabled learners in evacuations:
      A disabled learner who is a wheelchair user lays a complaint with the tertiary provider after they were told to ‘stay put’ in a classroom when an evacuation signal sounded. The learner was particularly distressed by the fact that no one stayed with them, and no one came back to check on them or let them know if it was a drill or a real evacuation. They now feel unsafe on the campus.

Example of good practice

All learners who may have access or movement support needs should be identified by the provider, and have a personalised evacuation support plan developed, which covers the learning environments they are in. Plans should be developed in collaboration with the provider’s health and safety team to support the evacuation responsibilities staff hold when in the learning environment. Where learners are on-site during irregular hours, plans should be shared with site security.

Curtin University has developed Evacuation Guidelines relating to disabled learners which may be useful for the development of your own management plan and guideline. In New Zealand, Otago University’s Health & Safety and Emergency Management Plan, and Auckland University of Technology’s Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan also provide helpful resources. These can be obtained directly from the relevant organisations.

Engaging disabled learners

Like earlier sections, establishing reference groups and focus groups to obtain feedback for service improvements.


Other ideas

  • Library assistance cards to help disabled learners find and transport research materials.
  • A card that allows phone access to organise library services such as photocopying, equipment, resource room access, library assistants and loan renewals.

This page is current as of May 2022 Print this page