Environmental Design and Access
Good environmental design benefits the community as a whole, not just those with impaired vision. It uses natural features and materials without modifying the environment unnecessarily. Consistency of design assists people with vision impairment in being independent and empowers them as they make their way through their world.
Specific guidelines for access in the built environment can be found in the 1428 suite of Australian Standards.
1428.1 Part 1: General requirements for access -- New building work
1428.2 Part 2: Enhanced and additional requirements -- Buildings and facilities
1428.3 Part 3: Requirements for children and adolescents with physical disabilities
1428.4 Part 4: Tactile indicators
These standards can be purchased from SAI Global.
Impaired Vision affects people's mobility in different ways which has important implications for design and access. A person with impaired vision may not be able to see the ground at his or her feet, detect hazards placed on the footpath, look ahead in his or her direction of travel, or recognise steps and changes in the ground level.
Most people with impaired vision do have some residual vision which means they may be able to see light or shapes. The type and amount of residual vision varies from person to person as does the variety of ways they function as a result.
Effective design and construction can significantly improve access so that all pedestrians may travel more safely and more independently. Considering design features at the outset is important as it can eliminate the need for expensive modifications at a later date.
The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) found in recent Vision Impairment Project (VIP) research that the incidence of impaired vision will increase as the population continues to age, so implementation of positive design features now will assist many tens of thousands of Australians over the years to come.
As of 2008, our clients continue to identify four key areas of concern in regards to environmental design, these being:
- Road crossings
- Steps and kerbs
- Footpath obstructions
- Lack of footpaths
Design features that benefit people with impaired vision include:
- Road crossings
- A continuous accessible path of travel
- Hazard minimisation
- Tactile indicators or tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI)
- Accessible public transport
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