Urban and open space furniture specialists Street Furniture Australia offers expert advice on DDA compliance and street furniture.

Under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992, known as DDA, public places must be accessible to people with a disability.

The DDA is relevant to many aspects of street furniture. This article focuses on two products:

  1. The seat, optimised for elderly users.
  2. The table setting, for wheelchair users

Why is DDA important?

DDA is part of universal design, which places human diversity at the forefront so places meet the needs of all users, regardless of age, size, disability or ability.

It ensures that public spaces can be enjoyed by everyone.

Ageing populations worldwide further increase demand for accessible design, to help people navigate and move through cities independently and in comfort.

According to the UN’s World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision, the number of people aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

AS1428.2 is a Guide Only

The Australian Standards 1428.2: Design for Access and Mobility, known as AS1428.2, is a guide and does not always equate to the DDA.

It is possible for products to be accessible without strictly adhering to AS1428.2 dimensions.

For instance, the AS1428.2 states the seat height, including backrest, should not exceed 790mm. However, Street Furniture Australia’s inhouse testing shows that higher backrests can provide more support.

It is also important to consider the specific user groups for each site. For example, a wheelchair-friendly table may be too high for children to reach. Or, an AS1428.2 drinking fountain could be too low for an elderly person to bend down to use.

In developing inclusive products, Street Furniture Australia generally refers to three key sources: AS1428.2, inhouse ergonomic testing and universal design principles.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design’s Building For Everyone Series is also a useful guide on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces.

A Note About Comfort

It is worthwhile noting that DDA products are not always comfortable for the general population.

A typical example is the DDA seat. While an upright seat backrest greatly assists elderly users with getting up and sitting down safely, the seat profile will not be suitable for most people to relax on for long periods of time.

The best DDA products provide both comfort and accessibility. When this is not possible, you could also choose to install a range of products to cater for the various user types in the space.

In Conclusion

DDA should be considered as one of many elements in universal design for public spaces, which strives to make places accessible to everyone.

AS1428.2 is a guide and does not always equate to the DDA. It is also possible for products to be accessible without strictly adhering to AS1428.2 dimensions.

Where products cannot provide comfort and include all users, you may choose to position a range of furniture types for the community in the space.

To read the full article and find more about DDA guidelines for seats and tables visit the Street Furniture Australia website www.streetfurniture.com

About ODS Editor
View all posts by this author »