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Best Practice Standards 3.7


3.7 Access to Buildings, Facilities and Equipment

Students with impairments have equitable access to the physical environment within the tertiary institution in which they will study, learn, live and take part.

Best Practice Standards

  1. All buildings that are required comply with or exceed the standards identified in NZS 4121:2001 : Design for Access and Mobility: Buildings and Associated Facilities.
  2. Physical access audits are completed by trained Barrier Free Auditors, in consultation with disability support staff and students with varying impairments.
  3. Audits take into account:
    1. All buildings, including student accommodation, marae, teaching, learning, administration, general and specialist support, spiritual and recreational facilities.
    2. The level of compliance with the minimum requirement of NZS 4121:2001.
    3. General access, health and safety.
    4. A schedule of improvements to buildings that do not meet the required standards, which is implemented flexibly and based on emerging needs.
  4. An access plan to improve physical access to above the minimum standard NZS 4121:2001 for students with varying impairments is developed, resources allocated, and an ongoing monitoring and review schedule established and implemented.
  5. The annual review of the physical access plan involves students with varying impairments, disability support staff and, where necessary, those responsible for audits.
  6. Policies and procedures exist to ensure that the needs of students with impairments are taken into account when any new building work or refurbishment takes place, including consulting with the parties mentioned above.
  7. Key access features such as location of lifts, accessible telephones, toilets, routes, entrances, and parking are clearly signed and identified on campus maps.
  8. Alternative means of participation for students with impairments exist where physical access is impossible or unreasonably difficult.
  9. Students with impairments are aware of relevant changes affecting physical access during work on buildings and grounds.
  10. Accessible parking and public transport drop-off and pick-up points (e.g. wheelchair taxis, buses), and campus signage comply with or exceed NZS 4121:2001.

Understanding these Best Practice Standards

  • Audits and planning should cover the physical access requirements of the wide range of people with impairments in our community (Refer to section 2.2), and include buildings, landscaping, car parking and public transport.
  • Ideally campus signage and maps should be available in accessible formats (e.g. tactile campus maps, easy to read wording and good colour contrast).
  • It is important that tertiary institutions anticipate physical access requirements:
    • Developing a 3 - 5 year Physical Access Plan and committing funds each year to a prioritized list of physical access provisions, completed in consultation with people with impairments and disability support staff.
    • Ensuring sufficient flexibility in the budget to reallocate money between departments during the year if physical access provisions are required.
    • Building works staff are trained in physical access provisions.
    • Each time alterations occur an assessment is made of how the building's accessibility can be improved (e.g. repainting using colour contrasts for those with vision impairments, carrying out acoustic audits).
    • A list of physical access standards is developed for rented accommodation.
    • Creating a 'Physical Access Kit' for staff and people with impairments.
    • Planning includes allowing students with mobility impairments enough time to travel between classes.
    • If physical access is impossible or unreasonably difficult, the institution is flexible regarding where classes are held, including moving teaching from inaccessible areas.
    • Procedures are in place to identify students with impairments using inaccessible facilities, prior to classes starting.
  • Trained physical access auditors can be engaged:
    • At the design stage of any new buildings and alterations to existing buildings, including those to be used for student accommodation, in order to provide advice, and liaise with the building designers and owners on access requirements.
    • At the completion of the building project to determine a building's compliance with the Building Act physical access provisions and other related legislation.
    • To issue a Building Warrant of Fitness to conform with the above areas.
  • Barrier Free NZ Trust accredited auditors and other companies such as Wrightson Associates can provide these services. Staff within institutions can also be trained as Accredited Barrier Free NZ Auditors.
  • Compliance with NZS 4121:2001 is essential. This minimum standard may not provide the level of access required for some students with impairments, therefore access is required above the minimum standard. Improving access for people with impairments has benefits for all people.

Campus facilities, equipment and events are accessible to all students with impairments.

Best Practice Standards

  1. Facilities and equipment planning incorporates the requirements of students with impairments and occurs in consultation with these students and disability support staff.
  2. Fire evacuation, health, safety and security procedures take into account all students with impairments.
  3. Campus facilities are fully accessible to students with impairments and allow equitable access to services.
  4. Information technology and computer arrangements maximise access to learning for students with impairments.
  5. Arrangements for events (e.g. graduation ceremonies, registration and social events) ensure equal access and amenities for people with impairments.
  6. Students with impairments are provided with appropriate specialist equipment.

Understanding these Best Practice Standards

  • Facilities and equipment planning should take into consideration:
    • The height and layout of classroom tables and laboratory 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.
    • Appropriately located accessible toilets that comply with NZS 4121:2001: Design for Access and Mobility: Buildings and Associated Facilities, and consider the needs of those using power wheelchairs and scooters who require full lifts or standing transfers or the use of hoists.
    • Design, comfort and layout of seating in lecture theatres, computer and other laboratories.
    • Lighting design that has a positive impact on people with vision impairments.
    • The installation, maintenance and notification of amplification and assistive listening systems (e.g. hearing loops or infra-red systems for hearing aid users, acoustic tiles, notification on maps and signs).
    • Acoustics, including minimising noise from fans in projection equipment, computers, heating, ventilation.
    • Easy use of equipment in laboratories, computer and teaching rooms.
    • Alternative safety systems such as flashing light fire alarms.
    • The ongoing maintenance of these facilities and equipment.
    • All areas and activities provided to students, including libraries, student accommodation, ceremonies, enrolment, support services, marae, examinations and assessment, administration, spiritual, recreational and teaching facilities.
  • Information technology and computer arrangements should include:
    • Electronic material that is accessible to people with impairments using adaptive/assistive hardware or software (e.g. screen reader technology).
    • Specialist hardware and software on computer networks (e.g. text help, zoom text).
    • Access to appropriate assistive technology (e.g. scanners, voice synthesizers, Braille embossers, enlargers and voice activated computers).
  • The following can also help:
    • Staff within computer services have training and the time to meet the needs of students with impairments.
    • Lecture notes on the institution intranet and in an accessible format.
    • Procedures to ensure these notes meet established guidelines, so there is no conflict with specialist software or features that students with dyslexia, vision impairments or blindness may be using.
    • A specific equipment area, often located in the library, containing equipment suitable for students with impairments (e.g. computers with specialist software, dictaphones, ergonomic chairs and desks).
    • 'Library assistance cards' so students can ask for help finding and transporting research materials.
    • A card that allows telephone access to organise library services such as photocopying, equipment, resource room access, library assistants and loan renewals.