Why is it so important for spaces to be accessible and inclusive?
For starters, about 4.4 million Australians have some form of disability, and 4.2 million are over the age of 65. There are also numerous people who may need help accessing spaces due to chronic pain, an injury, or because they're pushing a pram.
So it’s imperative that accessibility and inclusivity is taken into account for workplaces, retail shops, living spaces and community areas so that all Australians can feel welcome and comfortable. It would be awful arranging a social outing with friends or family, only to find out that some people might not be able to even enter the building!
Here are some tips that may help you determine whether a space is accessible and inclusive.
Parking and entrance access
Does the venue have an accessible parking area? Ideally, it should have space for larger vehicles that is as close as possible to the entrance. Like Family Social Carers may use their Member's disability parking permit if they are providing transport during a booking.
Check that there is ramp access and/or a lift at the entrance. This benefits not only disabled and elderly visitors, but also mothers with prams. You can often check if a place is wheelchair accessible via their Google Maps listing.
Another sign that a venue is accessible is if it has automatic doorways, rather than doors that need to be pushed or pulled.
To be inclusive for all Australians, venues should have accessible toilet facilities and offer Hearing Aid Loop and audio descriptions of the experience it offers. If the venue involves an audience setting such as a theatre, sporting ground or music hall, it would also be beneficial to provide accessible viewing areas away from crowds.
Some venues, like museums, now offer sensory rooms to accommodate autistic guests and other people with sensory needs. These rooms often have dim lighting, soothing sounds and noise-cancelling headphones to help guests feel calm and supported.
In addition to accessible facilities, venues may also provide dedicated prayer rooms and parent rooms to accommodate those with certain religious beliefs and young children.
A growing number of venues now accept Companion Cards. This means someone can bring their disability support worker or carer along without paying for their ticket. Check out our list of venues that accept Companion Cards.
Venues should also support assistance animals, a necessary aid for people with disability to engage with their community. In fact, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 allows qualified Assistance Dogs to accompany their handler into all public spaces, apart from areas with stringent sterility requirements.
Some venues, like supermarkets and cinemas, offer dedicated quiet-time sessions for those who would find this more comfortable, such as people with autism.
Examples of accessible and inclusive spaces
While many public spaces continue to neglect the needs of people with disability, we have seen gradual accessibility improvements across Australia. Here are some of our favourites:
- Auslan interpreters at big musical festivals, like Splendour in the Grass and Ability Fest
- Sensory-friendly sessions at the Australian Museum, Australian Maritime Museum and Queensland Museum
- Audio-described, Auslan-interpreted and relaxed performances at the Sydney Opera House
- Sensory-friendly movie screenings at Hoyts and Village Cinemas
- All-abilities sky diving sessions with iFly
Discover and enjoy accessible events with Like Family
If you or your loved one live on the east coast of Australia and are looking to find a carer for assistance getting out and about amongst the community, sign up with Like Family. Like Family is on a mission to end social isolation and loneliness due to disability, illness or ageing.
We have fully vetted Social Carers (support workers) that can offer companionship and help with activities like exercise, cooking, transport and household chores. We also have an events page where you can discover accessible events to attend with your Social Carer.
Join our community today!