Why designing for dignity is so important

9 December 2019

When it comes to the question 'is there disabled access?' a yes isn't always a yes.

Designing for dignity is about ensuring people of all abilities can access a premises in a way that is equitable for all. This includes shops, restaurants, office buildings and public spaces. Creating a truly accessible 'front door' for a building means designing buildings with dignity and respect in mind. This means a person with a disability can enter a building without needing assistance, they do not have to go further than an able-bodied person (such as using a service entrance) or they do not have to find the custodian who has the key for the ambulant bathroom.

It is about designing a building or layout with the expectation that people with disability will attend the premises just like every one else, as disability is just an everyday part of life.

At Life Without Barriers, designing our premises with dignity is an integral part of our work. We were proud to be able to share some of our insights in this space at the Australian Network on Disability 'Dignified Access' Roundtable event held recently in Sydney.

Image: Nathan Reynolds, Life Without Barriers Manager of Property and Fleet on the 'Dignified Access' panel

Nathan Reynolds, our Manager of Property and Fleet sat on the panel alongside Jason Barker, Principal, Design for Dignity. Nathan shared how the driver of our commitment to create equitable access to our premises was mandated by our Life Without Barriers Board.

They requested that every new or renovated office created by Life Without Barriers be 100% accessible for every person. To do this, as we grow our office footprint, our property team review each set of floor plans to ensure they meet dignified access principles. They then consult with our staff with disability to ensure the layout and the accessibility measures put in place will create a safe, comfortable and accessible environment for all users.

How we are ensuring access and inclusion in our offices

Image: An example of an accessible reception desk at our Toowoomba, Qld office

Image: Signage incorporating braille

Image: Accessible kitchens in our Unley, SA office with lower bench/sink heights and microwaves at two levels.

Nathan's advice to other companies is to take a staged approach when looking to adhere to dignified access principles for their premises.

No one has unlimited resources, but if you commit yourself to access for all, with each renovation, new office or as the need arises, you can ensure dignified access for all