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Accessibility has become increasingly important with the introduction of legislation to regulate and safeguard the inclusion and ability of those with a disability to access public services without experiencing any type of discrimination. With the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1992, along with legislation that followed it, guidelines have been established to ensure access to services including education, public areas and public transport for those with a physical disability, cognitive/learning disability or psychological disorder. However, what do these guidelines and regulations mean for outdoor public spaces and how do you ensure that you comply with those legislations?
DDA standards for public and outdoor spaces
The DDA standards focus on any and all types of disabilities that can hinder a person to make use of a public community space, facility, club or service. For these public areas and services, facilities need to enable people to access and make use of these services and facilities without any disadvantage. This can range from tactile floor tiles near bus stops for guiding blind and visually impaired individuals to hearing aids at public buildings for those with a hearing impairment. DDA regulations also consider the elderly and those who simply are less mobile than others. There are a number of pointers and guidelines that, depending on the type of service, will help to ensure that no one unintentionally faces discrimination.
What you can do
For parks and other public outdoor areas, meeting these regulations will mainly focus on physical disabilities as that is the only barrier of access to these areas. Making facilities accessible for people in wheelchairs, elderly with canes or walkers are an important focus of accessibility and installing ramps, railings, providing wheelchair-friendly walkways and facilitating wheelchairs at public toilets are among vital amenities for those with a disability. For those with visual impairment, translating and offering signs in braille and having clear curbs where necessary to guide them along the area should be included in the design and development of the outdoor area. Apart from these vulnerable groups, the DDA also takes into consideration pregnant women and children and facilities should take into account their needs as well.
Apart from standard features, DDA also lays out specifications for the types of outdoor furniture that should be placed in public outdoor areas and how these should be placed to enable easy access for people with a disability. For example, benches with armrests, backrests and a suitable height should be installed at regular intervals along walkways so people can sit down and break up their ‘journey’ as they require. Likewise, picnic tables must follow certain measurements and should be placed in easily accessible and sheltered level places. Unlike bench seating tables do not require armrests and backrest but should allow for wheelchairs to be able to sit at them.
The ideal solution
Making sure you source outdoor furniture that meets these specifications can be challenging task. Whether you require a series of benches or selection of outdoor table settings, Felton can provide the solution to your outdoor seating needs. With our team of experts, there’s no need to worry about the many DDA regulations that apply to outdoor furniture as we offer a wide range of customisable products that meet the standards that are set out in the DDA act. Take a look through our bench seating range or outdoor tables and chairs and reach out today to learn more or to get a quote to create the perfect outdoor space for your location.