All about Access - to the Home, in the Community, at Work, Travelling...

Accessing Entertainment Venues and Tourist Spots

Most major entertainment venues and tourist spots have good levels of access. For a venue to be classified as accessible for everyone it must have elements such as level entry, level paths and ramps and a wheelchair accessible toilet and facilities. The same things apply to indoor venues such as restaurants, theatres, museums and stadiums, and outdoors in parks and markets. Before you go it would be a good idea to check websites or call venues to ask for specific details.

However there might be fewer needs to consider when planning your trip out. The starting point is to think about where you want to go and not to limit yourself to only the accessible places that are listed in a guidebook.

For many people the prime consideration is whether there is a wheelchair accessible toilet, either with the space to transfer onto it or with the privacy to selfcatheterise or use other equipment. The particular place you’d like to go might not have one, but there could be one nearby in a hotel, café, library, public toilet block etc.

You may not need to use a toilet if you have a secure bowel program and use a catheter with large capacity bag or bottle that does not need to be emptied or can be emptied into a container or onto grass. People with quadriplegia might not be able to independently transfer out of their wheelchair so a bowel or bladder accident could mean cutting the outing short even if there is an accessible toilet available.

If a venue has a step at the entrance but everything else is accessible once you are inside then you might not mind being helped in or you could take a portable ramp. Call SCInfo on 02 9661 8855 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for advice on where to obtain a ramp or look up the equipment suppliers listed on our Aids, Equipment, Wheelchairs Information Sheet.

Transport to and from the venue will also need to be considered. Unless you have your own vehicle the options are accessible taxis or public transport. In Sydney call 8332 0200 to book a wheelchair accessible taxi and for information about accessible buses, trains and ferries call 131 500 or go to

Accessing Heritage Buildings

The Disability Discrimination Act requires equal access for people with disabilities to all buildings used by the general public—this includes heritage buildings. Every opportunity must be taken to provide equal access. When conducting major renovations councils will require access provisions to be made unless “unjustifiable hardship” can be demonstrated. Further information can be obtained from the publication Improving Access to Heritage Buildings by Eric Martin.

Can't get Access to a venue?? Advice on how to resolve an access problem

Firstly, identify who is responsible for the facility and negotiate with them.

If a renovation is being or has recently been carried out to a shop or other public building and access is not provided, approach the local council or access committee to determine if access provisions were included in the Development Application. This includes lift access to the second story of a building if an essential service (ie a doctor’s surgery) is located on that floor.

Any access provisions need to comply with AS1428.1–4, (the Australian Standards for Access), Section D3, E3.6 and F2.4 of the Building Code of Australia 2010 and the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010. Additional access provisions may also be required for compliance with the local Council Development Control Plans (DCP's).

Your local council access committee can provide advice about what actions you might take or on what modifications might need to be made.

If you are not satisfied, you can lodge a complaint with HREOC. (Complaints Infoline 1300 656 419)

Further advice, including locating an accredited access consultant, can be obtained from the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia.

Access at Work

The Employment Assistance Fund (Job Access) is a fund which people with disability can use to improve their access environment at work.

Access to your Home

There are a range of devices to enable everyone, regardless of their level of function, to independently access their front door and to allow others to enter. Read about the options on our Home modifications Information Sheet.

Accessing Public Transport

Accessible public transport is available in Sydney. Accessible buses run on most routes, and many train stations and ferry wharves are wheelchair accessible. For timetables and other public transport information visit the Transport Infoline or phone 131 500. To view the location of stations and wharves download our Google Earth overlay. For other cities and States visit the website of the relevant Transport authority in your State.

Accessible Travel Accommodation

See on our Travel and Travel Accommodation Information Sheet for information about finding accessible travel accommodation.

Access and Travel guides

Visiting Sydney or the Grand Canyon and want to know what is accessible. See these guides for suggestions on places to visit.

Building or Modifying Homes and Buildings to be accessible

Barrier free/Universal design principles

21st century housing should be able to adapt to the needs of people at every stage of life. A home which has accessible and adaptable interior design and features allows for changes as required. This enables people to stay within the familiarity and comfort of their home and surrounding area.

The main principles of barrier free design are:

  • Barrier free housing design is good design for everyone
  • Continuation of existing community and family networks
  • Suitability for people with any level of ability
  • Bathroom/ toilet and bedroom on the entrance level
  • Living room located on the entrance level
  • At least 1 level entry into the house
  • Sealed pathway from parking area to a home entrance
  • Level or gently sloped approach to entrance

Guides and Checklists

Checklists can be useful to make sure that as many accessible design features as possible are incorporated into your plans. Two examples of access checklists we have found are:

Building a private Home

If the project involves designing a private home, Australian Standards AS 1428 parts 1 and 2 do not need to be complied with, but they are a good start to get guidance on setting out dimensions and gradients etc to provide access to a particular person's needs. 

Modifying a private Home 

Home modification is adapting the home environment so that a person with disabilities can live as independently, safely and comfortably as possible. The modification can be simple or complex. Proper home modifications are essential for a person to return to their home and community after a spinal cord injury. Read here for useful information on how to make your home environment accessible.

Public buildings

Public buildings and amenities must be built according to the relevant standards.  See the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 for information about what is required. See the Australian Human Rights Commission website for information on when and how an exemption to providing access in a building can be granted.

Public buildings - Some useful access advice to business owners

Is this happening in your business? Your cashier is telling customers to buy elsewhere. Your receptionist isn't answering one out of every seven queries. You're refusing 14% of potential clients entrance to your premises. You're losing thousands of dollars because your business doesn't welcome new clients.Impossible!! No, it isn't. To some extent you're losing business if your premises are not accessible to people with disabilities.

Some Facts - Over 19% of the Australian population have a disability. That's more than 2.5 million people - people who require goods and services like anybody else. If these people encounter barriers to entering your premises they'll simply spend their money elsewhere. 

Why should I spend good money making my premises accessible? Because by doing so you'll open up new market opportunities. It's your legal obligation—Equal Access and Equal Opportunity are enshrined in a wide range of State and Federal laws: Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Acts, Building Codes and Australian Standards.

Changes that make sense: 

  • Ramped entrances and elevators as well as other modifications that will allow the maximum number of people to use your facilities
  • Products that are well-designed and easy to use.
  • Staff that are trained to communicate effectively with people who have disabilities.
  • The development of a corporate culture of equity.

Some added bonuses:

  • A ramped entrance and elevator will not only allow access to people with physical disabilities; it will also be used by the elderly and by parents with children in prams.
  • Work Health and Safety problems associated with the delivery and removal of goods will also be alleviated.
  • Equal access will broaden your choices of prospective employees.
  • Staff trained in the principles of communicating effectively with people who have disabilities will have improved communication skills with all customers.

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia can help you improve access to your business premises. We have extensive first-hand experience and knowledge of the day to day problems and challenges facing people with severe physical disabilities. These include such concerns as access to buildings and services, product usage and negative and obtrusive community/staff perceptions.

The Missed Business Guide, is a very useful guide to help you to attract more customers by providing better access to your business.

Access Committees

Most of the local councils in NSW and around Australia have Access Committees. These committees look at issues involving access in the local community. Specifically Access Committees are interested in:

  • Advising and recommending about access to Council facilities and services.
  • Being a forum for issues relating to people with disabilities to be discussed.
  • Advising on policy, strategies and programs of Council relating to access and other issues that concern people living with a disability,
  • Allowing community members equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of life in the local area.

Access Committees are there to help improve access in the community so if you come across an access problem in your local community contact the committee or better still get onto the committee as a community representative to influence positive outcomes in regard to increasing access and equity for all of the community. 

Access Consultants

For all consultancy needs we recommend that you visit the official website of the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia and follow the links to search for an accredited Access Consultant. You should always ensure that the Access Consultant you use is an accredited member of this association.

Courses to become an Access Consultant

People working as access consultants generally have occupational therapy, architecture, building or engineering qualifications; or in some cases have used their own experiences as a person with a disability. Their professional ability has been developed by further study of the relevant legislation, codes and standards.

The Independent Living Centre of New South Wales offers a Professional Certificate in Accessible Buildings in association with the Master Builders Association of NSW and the Building Designers Association of NSW. 

The Institute of Access Training Australia provides professional development and training in ‘Access for All’. This is aimed at people with responsibilities for ensuring equitable access is provided, to all services, facilities, communications, events, information, employment and the built environment, for people with disabilities and a range of access challenges. 

Further Reading and Information

Click here to generate a list of publications and resources in our SCI Resources Library about Access - publications, articles, reports, papers and more. 

AAACC: SCIA Access Information Sheet: This Information Sheet has been brought to you by Information Services at SCIA. For further information on this or any other topic please call AskSCInfo by phone on 02 9661 8855 or 1800 819 774 (for callers outside Sydney)

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