Human Rights Commission On Building Standards for the Hearing Impaired

ACCESS TO BUILDING STANDARDS

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes launched a webcast about important changes to do with accessibility in building design and construction.

The webcast is a recording of presentations made at awareness seminars given by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) throughout August and September 2010 about the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards (Premises Standards).

Over 2000 people attended the presentations by the Commission"s Michael Small and the ABCB"S Kevin Newhouse. The half-day seminars provide an overview of the ways in which the Premises Standards will improve access to buildings and achieve consistency between building law and the Disability Discrimination Ad (DDA).

"Adoption of these standards represents a move towards national consistency in accessibility requirements, which will generate greater certainty for practitioners in the design and construction of buildings while ensuring buildings are more accessible for people with disability and members of our ageing populations, said Commissioner Innes.

"While 1 May 2011 may seem some way off it is important that building professionals learn about the changes now as buildings that are currently in the planning stage may be caught by the new requirements" said Commissioner Innes.

Building certifiers, architects, access consultants and other building professionals will especially benefit from viewing and reviewing the seminars given their work and professional responsibilities. People with disability and those working for and with people with disability will gain an appreciation of the nature and scope of the changes and the requirements of the new standards.

What does this mean for you?

Unfortunately, the new AS 1428.5 "Design for Access and Mobility - communication for people who are deaf and hearing impaired" did not come out until after all the necessary Regulatory Impact Statement process for the Premises Standards had been completed. The Premises Standards have to be fully assessed in terms of their benefits and costs and every AS that was referenced in the Premises Standards had to be subject to the RIS before being referenced. (No new Australian Standard is referenced to be mandatory until it has been through the RIS process in any area) As AS 1428.5 was not released until after the RIS on the Premise Standards had been completed it could not be referenced.

There is no doubt AS 1428.5 is going to be a valuable resource in many areas including the installation and maintenance of hearing augmentation and it is hoped that the A51428.5 will be considered for referencing in the Premises Standards at the first review.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is currently developing a guideline on the Premises Standards and AS 1428.5 will be referenced as a valuable resource.

The webcast has been produced by the ABC and is available at:

www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/buildings/webcast.html

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