Legal obligations for organisations
In 1992, the Federal Government of Australia introduced the Disability Discrimination Act (external link),
which makes it against the law for someone to be discriminated against based on their disability.
This Act requires businesses, employers and community organisations to do everything they can to make sure that any venues and services they offer to the public are accessible.
Many people only think of accessibility as providing a ramp or wheelchair accessible bathroom in a building. While physical accessibility is important, accessibility also includes a range of other considerations such as making sure information is accessible to people with vision impairment and low literacy and having positive discrimination policies for Boards and committees to make sure people with disability are included.
Tip: You can learn more about the Disability Discrimination Act on the Australian Human Rights Commission website (external link).
National Disability Standards
In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act requires businesses, government organisations, schools and workplaces to follow three standards for accessibility. These are:
1. Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (external link)
2. Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 (external link)
3. Disability Standards for Education 2005 (external link).
These standards provide guidelines and outline the requirements for public transport, public buildings and education services to be:
- free or at a low cost for those that need it
- physically accessible for people who use wheelchairs or have other physical support needs
- accessible for people with learning and psychosocial disabilities.
Tip: You can read and download the Disability Standards and Guidelines on the Australian Human Rights Commission website (external link).
If a business or service provides information to the public, it should ensure that information is accessible for people with different types of disability and different levels of literacy.
Tips for making sure information is accessible:
- provide anti-discrimination and disability awareness training to staff. Always endeavour to ensure that training is provided by Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) or suitably experienced trainers who are persons with disability
- provide written information in clear and concise language that is easy to understand and in a font size no smaller than 12 point
- use a variety of ways to convey important information. For example, provide information in the form of a captioned video, as well as text
- provide options for contacting staff in multiple ways. For example, in person, over the phone or by email
- make sure that staff who are public facing are aware of, and know how to use the National Relay Service (NRS) (external link)
- ensure that organisation websites meet the W3C Web accessibility standards (external link).
Tip: You can download our Written Information - Accessibility Checklist for more tips!
Accessible buildings and venues
The Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 (external link) outline requirements for building or upgrading public premises to make them accessible for people with disability.
If you are involved in planning a new building or opening a business, you should ensure you meet the requirements of The Disability (Access to Premises -Buildings) Standards.
The requirements for existing buildings are not as strict. However, there are some things that should always be done to support accessibility for people with disability.
Tips for making sure your building is accessible:
- do not lock accessible bathrooms or lifts while premises are in use by members of the public
- make sure all lift buttons have Braille information next to them and that the lifts provide audible information telling users what floor they have arrived to
- make sure lifts and sliding doors have motion detectors that ensure the doors automatically open and close only when they are clear of people
- make sure that counter heights, lift buttons, EFTPOS facilities, door handles, and so on are within reach of a person using a wheelchair and/or a person of short stature
- have clear signage for premises and any hazards that you cannot control (for example, construction in progress)
- provide designated parking spaces for people with disability wherever possible
- make sure that people using wheelchairs and/or mobility scooters can access the building.
Tip: You can learn more about how to make buildings and venues accessible on the Australian Network on Disability website (external link).
If you are organising an event, whether it’s a Board meeting, a conference, or a party, there are some easy things you can do to make sure it is accessible.
Tips for making sure your event is accessible:
- hold the event at a venue that is physically accessible for people using wheelchairs and/or mobility aids, for those with assistance animals and for people with other types of impairments. Consider things like whether the venue has disability parking and accessible entrances
- make sure the venue has accessible bathrooms that are free from clutter
- hold the event in a quiet and private space. Organise a quiet break out room if the event is loud or has lots of people attending
- hold the event at an appropriate time. For example, do not start the event in peak hour when traffic is very heavy, or very late at night when transport is limited
- provide information about the event in an accessible electronic format, as well as in print
- try to lower costs for attendees as much as possible. If it is a ticketed event, have a concession option
- ensure that support persons and/or companions are welcome at the event.
Tip: You can download our Public Events - Accessibility Checklist for more tips.
Accessible boards and committees
If you run or are on a board or committee that makes decisions that affect people with disability in any way, it is important that you make sure the meetings are accessible.
The first step is to make sure people with disability are fully included. This can be done by adapting the positive discrimination standards that are often used to improve women’s participation on boards and use them for people with disability.
You could for example, have a quota that reflects the fact that almost 20% (17.8%) of women in Australia have some form of disability. 
This would mean that if your Board has 10 members, you would need at least two of the members of the board to have a disability, and at least one of these two should be a woman.
This is only useful, however, if the board meetings themselves are accessible and enable people with disability to take part.
Watch the Voice at the Table video 'Tips for Inclusive Meetings:'
Tips for making sure boards and meetings are accessible
- have disability quotas for board members
- provide anti-discrimination and board director training to all board members
- send out agendas and papers before the meeting in an accessible digital format and provide them in hard copy to participants if required
- ensure any support requirements of people with disability are met. This may include, for example: a support person, an interpreter, real time captioning, a note taker, or assistance from another board member
- make sure everyone in the meeting has the opportunity to contribute. If someone is very quiet, encourage them to contribute their ideas or views.
Tip: People with different types of disability have different support requirements. You can find information about including people with intellectual disability on boards and committees on the Voice at the Table website (external link).
Work and education
Women with disability have the same right to education and work opportunities as any other person. In workplaces and educational institutions, employers and educators are required to offer students and employees with disability any support they may need to take part. These are called reasonable accommodations. The supports someone needs will depend on their disability, but may include:
- flexible work hours to go to appointments or look after family
- assistive technology devices like screen readers, dictation systems, hearing aids
- extra time to read information
- movable desks and ergonomic chairs
- an on the job support worker.
Tip: You can learn more about reasonable accommodations on the Australian Human Rights Commission website (external link).
Organisations and businesses are exempt from making accommodations if doing so would cause unjustifiable hardship. If this is the case, the organisation must prove that the adjustment would be too costly, difficult, time consuming, or cause hardship in some other way.
In determining whether accommodations will create unjustifiable hardship, the following factors should be discussed with all parties:
- how much the adjustment will cost
- whether financial assistance is available
- the potential benefit of the adjustment to the person with disability
- any potential detriment of the adjustment to the business or community.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2019) Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018 (external link).