The focus of this presentation is on the NCC provisions for access for people including those with disability in Volume One.


Slide 1:

Welcome to Using the accessibility provisions in NCC Volume One

Slide 2:

The focus of this presentation is on the NCC provisions for access for people (including those with disability) in Volume One.

Slide 3:

Understanding the NCC accessibility provisions. The definition of disability shown here is used in anti-discrimination law, not the NCC. It is very broad and covers about 20% of Australians. 

People protected from discrimination by those laws may experience difficulties using buildings, so buildings need to be designed and constructed in ways to ensure they are accessible. 

It's not just people with a mobility disability who experience barriers to accessing and using buildings. Potential barriers to access may affect anyone – both people with and without disability.

Two examples of how a person’s needs can affect building design. The absence of contrast on stair nosings makes stairs more hazardous for all users but especially for people with a visual impairment. 

A stepped entrance creates a barrier for people who use wheelchairs and other people with mobility impairments such as sore knees or hips.

Challenges hearing in a place with amplified sound, such as a theatre or conference venue.

Good access has benefits for all people. For example families with small children, older people, People with temporary injuries, anyone delivering or picking up goods.

Slide 4:

What are the NCC accessibility provisions?

The NCC sets out the minimum requirements for the provision of safe, equitable and dignified access to buildings.

The overall access objectives are to ensure, as much as possible, that people can use buildings independently and with dignity. Ensure that buildings provide a ‘continuous accessible path of travel’ i.e. one that does not include features that might impede safe, equitable and dignified movement and access to facilities.

Provide, as far as is reasonable, people with safe, equitable and dignified access to a building, the services and facilities within the building; and safeguard occupants from illness or injury while evacuating in an emergency.

Examples of adhering to the access principles include accessible entry to a new building must be the principal pedestrian entrance and not one around the back of the building. Gaining access to a swimming pool should not rely on someone having to be carried into it.

While there are some exceptions and exemptions within the NCC, access is required to most spaces and facilities within a building used by the occupants - who may be customers, visitors or staff. 

The NCC is mainly concerned with the physical construction of the building. Generally speaking, what happens after construction in terms of fit out and ongoing use and management are not covered by the NCC, but continues to be covered by discrimination law.

The NCC does not address 3 areas. Fixtures and fittings used in a building, such as furniture or reception desks. Wayfinding information, such as room numbers or general information signs. Management policies or staff behaviour – for example, if the staff at a nightclub refuse to allow a blind person entry.

So, it is important to comply with the access provisions in the NCC, so that a building is built in such a way as to be as accessible to as many people as possible.

It is important to note however, that because Volume One applies to a broad range of buildings – for example, commercial, industrial, multi-residential, and institutional buildings - some Performance Requirements may have limited application, generally dependent on the specific building classification - i.e. not all requirements apply to all designs. 

Slide 5:

Accessibility. 1. To a building from the allotment boundary, 2.Between associated buildings that are required to be accessible, 3.Between levels (via lifts, ramps and stairs), 4.In most buildings, to all areas normally used by the users, 5. To signage including braille and tactile, 6. To hearing augmentation systems, 7.To suitable sanitary facilities.

Slide 6:

Where is accessibility covered in NCC Volume One?

NCC Volume One contains a number of sections with requirements relevant to accessibility. It is easier to look at the Table of Contents and see that Section D is relevant, but they need to look beyond this to identify the other provisions in other Sections. 

For accessibility, there are a total of 10 Performance Requirements across 3 Sections of NCC Volume One, which are Sections D, E, F and G, 4 Verification Methods across Sections D, E and F, 36 DTS Provisions across 4 Sections, which are Sections D, E, F, G and I, 4 Specifications across Sections D, E and F.

The Performance Requirements represent minimum requirements. Building designers/owners/builders can choose to introduce additional or alternative measures to provide greater accessibility within a building and to its occupants. For example, a care home or day centre for people with disability.

Section A Governing Requirements is common across the NCC and covers how to use and apply the NCC. The various Parts of Section A can apply to accessibility, for example:

Part A1 Interpreting the NCC describes how to interpret provisions within the NCC, including things like Application statements, Limitation statements, Exceptions statements. 

Part A5 Documentation of design and construction describes the requirements for evidence and documentation to prove compliance with relevant access Performance Requirements.

Part A6 Building classifications describes the building classes, which in part determine which accessibility provisions apply to a building or part of a building.

Part A7 describes the treatment of united buildings, which can have implications for accessibility requirements.

The 4 main sections of NCC Volume One containing Performance Requirements primarily related to accessibility are Section D Access and egress, which focuses on how people enter, leave and move around a building. This obviously has implications for the ease with which people with disability can access and move around the building, and how they can evacuate from the building in an emergency.

Has 7 Performance Requirements relevant to access for people with disability, as well as 2 relevant Verification Methods, one Part containing DTS Provisions (Part D4), and 2 relevant Specifications (Braille and tactile signs and accessible water entry – swimming pools).

Section E Services and equipment, which contains provisions related to the use of lifts for the evacuation of people with disability.

Has one relevant Performance Requirement, one Verification Method, 3 DTS Provisions and one relevant Specification.

Section F Health and amenity, which contains provisions related to the provision of sanitary facilities that are accessible.

Has one relevant Performance Requirement, one Verification Method, four DTS Provisions and one relevant Specification.

Section G Ancillary Provisions, which contains one relevant Performance Requirement and one DTS Provision concerning livable housing design requirements for Class 2 buildings. 

Part G7 Livable housing design = includes requirements for improving access and usability for dwellings – for both owners and visitors 

G7P1 Livable housing design is a specific Performance Requirement addressing accessibility. 

The DTS provision G7D2 Livable housing design states that the ABCB Standard on Livable Housing Design must be complied with for compliance with G7D2, subject to the terms of the exemption applying to G7D2. 

Section I Special use buildings, which contains 16 additional DTS Provisions that apply only to Class 9b or Class 10 public transport buildings, as listed on the slide. 

The provisions within Part I2 Public transport buildings derive from the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002. This is a national disability standard, agreed to by Australian governments. 

The design specifications in the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 are sometimes different to those that generally apply within the NCC. As a result, Part I2 sometimes refers to different editions of Australian Standards for things like accessways, ramps, stairways, signage, lifts and doorways. 

If there is a difference between some aspect of a DTS Provision in Part I2 and some aspect of a related provision in another Section of the NCC, then the provision within Part I2 takes precedence.

Slide 7:

Using Section D Access and egress

In broad terms, Section D requires buildings to allow for safe movement into, out of and within a building.

Primary addresses access and car parking, movement to and within a building, safe evacuation during an emergency.

Performance Requirements. All the Performance Requirements for Section D are at the front of the Section. There are 9 in total. Their names pretty well define what they are about. 7 of these are relevant to access for people with disability.

Verification Methods. Section D also describes 4 Verification Methods, which may be used as Performance Solutions to assess compliance with part or all of the Performance Requirements of Section D. 

2 of these Verification Methods are relevant to access for people with disability. Verification Method D1V2 provides a way to verify that a building provides safe and equitable access to and within a building. It verifies compliance with D1P1, D1P2, and D1P6.  (And E3P4 and/or F4P1)

Verification Method D1V3 provides a way to verify compliance with D1P2 to provide safe movement to and within a building via ramps used by wheelchairs. Remember, a Verification Method is just one way to verify compliance via a Performance Solution. 

DTS Provisions. The relevant Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions in Section D are contained in Part D4 Access for people with a disability. 

A number of these provisions apply differently in different building classifications.

Specifications. There are also 2 specifications supporting the accessibility provisions in Section D. They contain detailed information to apply the relevant DTS Provisions.

Specification 15 Braille and tactile signs - Tactile means relating to our sense of touch. A tactile sign is one that you can touch in order to gain information from it.

Specification 16 Accessible water entry/exit from swimming pools.

Slide 8:

Key Accessibility Performance Requirements. Most of these Performance Requirements are qualitative, rather than quantitative. They specify an attribute that must be achieved, not an absolute value. So, for example, the Performance Requirement is that people can access the building and places within it. The Requirement does not state how this access must be provided, as this will depend on the situation in the individual building.

For example, D1P6 requires that paths of travel to exits are appropriate, but doesn’t say exactly how long or short a path to an exit should be or how complex a path would be considered inappropriate. You need to look at the building, how it will be used, who will use it etc, and make a determination about what kinds of exit paths are reasonable. If the building is a hospital, for example, you need to take into account that many occupants are likely to have limited mobility and might need help to find their way to an exit.

Lots of different things can make a building more accessible, it is not just about ramps and accessible car parking.

Nor is accessibility just related to people with mobility disability (e.g. wheelchair access). So the measures that might be required to make a space suitably accessible can vary.

Features that make a space accessible for people with disability can also make it easier and safer to use for people without disability. For example removing steps/level changes reduces the risk of slips, trips and falls for everyone. Wider accessways and doorways can also make movement in a building easier for all users. Installing a lift can make access to other levels easier for people who are carrying large or heavy items, or for people with children in prams.

Slide 9:

Interpreting the DTS Provisions in Part D4

Question 1: According to Part D4D2, what parts of a Class 2 building must be accessible, as defined by the NCC? Answer 1: D4D2(4). Access is required to common areas within the building. From a pedestrian entrance that must be accessible to at least one floor containing SOUs and to the entrance doorway of each SOU on that level. To and within not less than one of each type of room or space for use in common by the residents, including a cooking facility, sauna, gymnasium, swimming pool, common laundry, games room, individual shop, eating area, or the like

Where a ramp complying with AS 1428.1 or a passenger lift is installed to the entrance doorway of each SOU, and to and within rooms or spaces for use in common by the residents that are located on the levels served by the lift or ramp

Question 2: According to Part D4, what areas are not required to be accessible in a Class 2 to 9 building? Answer 2: Part D4D5 Exemptions. The following areas are not required to be accessible, a) An area where access would be inappropriate because of the particular purpose for which the area is used, b) An area that would pose a health or safety risk for people with a disability, c) Any path of travel providing access only to an area exempted by (a) or (b).

For example, you would be unlikely to need to provide wheelchair access to a diving platform at a swimming pool because it would be dangerous to use a wheelchair on such a ramp. 

Question 3: According to Part D4, how many parking spaces would need to be reserved for people with disability in a shopping centre with parking for a total of 1200 cars?

Answer 3: Part D4D6 Accessible carparking (Class 6). 22 carparking spaces for people with a disability. (1000/50 = 20 spaces) + (200/100 = 2 spaces) = 22 spaces.

Question 4: According to Part D4, what Australian Standard must signage in an accessible building comply with? Answer 4:Part D4D7 Signage, various clauses. AS 1428.1 Design for access and mobility – General requirements for access – New building work

Question 5: According to Part D4, when are tactile ground surface indicators required in a Class 2-9 building? Answer 5: Part D4D9 Tactile indicators, Clause (1), Must be provided to warn people who are blind or have a vision impairment that they are approaching any stairway that is not a fire-isolated stairway, and any ramp that is not a fire-isolated ramp, step ramp, kerb ramp or swimming pool ramp. An escalator or a passenger conveyor or moving walk. If there is no suitable barrier, an overhead obstruction less than 2 m above floor level, other than a doorway. An accessway that meets a roadway next to a pedestrian entrance to a building, if there is no kerb or kerb ramp at that point, excluding a pedestrian entrance serving an area covered by the exemptions in D4D5, and areas exempted by D4D5.

Slide 10:

What are the accessibility provisions in Section E Services and equipment?

E3P4 Lift access for people with a disability. If a building is required to be accessible, then any lifts provided in that building must be accessible lifts.

E3D6 Landings. If a building that is required to be accessible has a passenger lift, then the landings for the lift will have to comply with the accessibility requirements of Section D, Part D4. 

This will potentially affect things like the dimensions of the landing areas and the width of the corridors leading to the landing.

E3D7 Passenger lifts and their limitations. Part E3D7 identifies the range of lifts that can be used in buildings, and their limitations.

While the range is broad and allows for more cost effective approaches, especially for small buildings, there are some limits on when each type of lift can be used. Some types of lifts include an electric passenger lift, a stairway platform lift which follows the flight of stairs on rails fixed at one side, a low-rise platform lift, an inclined lift. 

E3D10 Residential care buildings. Only applies to a Class 9c residential care building. In these buildings, there is a high likelihood that some occupants will not be able to evacuate on their own. Therefore, the building’s design and construction needs to take this into account. If any occupants might need to evacuate from a level that doesn’t go out directly on the street or some form of open space, then the provisions shown must be met.

E3D8 Features required by passenger lifts provides general requirements for the main features of different lift types which include requirements that all lifts must have a handrail, apart from stairway platform lifts and low-rise lifts, must have a minimum lift floor dimension of 1400 mm by 1600 mm, if they travel more than 12 m (1100 mm x 1400 mm if less than 12 m), must have lift landing doors at the upper landing, apart from stairway platform lifts, must have automatic audible information within the lift car to identify the level each time the car stops, if they serve more than 2 levels.

Slide 11:

What are the accessibility provisions in Section F Health and amenity?

F4D5 Accessible sanitary facilities. The general term ‘accessible sanitary facilities’ refers to accessible unisex sanitary compartments (referred to generally as ‘accessible unisex toilets’, not ‘disabled toilets’), accessible unisex showers, toilets suitable for people with ambulant disabilities.

Part F4D5 sets out where accessible unisex sanitary compartments and unisex showers are required to be provided. Requirements for ambulant accessible toilet cubicles.  Also refer to F4D6 Accessible unisex sanitary compartments and F4D7 Accessible unisex showers.

Generally, accessible unisex sanitary compartments must be provided in buildings required to be accessible and containing toilets. On every accessible storey where there are toilets.

Some individuals may require assistance using a toilet. Accessible toilets are therefore required to be unisex to allow for assistance by someone of any gender without entering an area reserved for a specific gender. 

Circulation spaces and features of an accessible unisex toilet must comply with AS 1428.1: Design for access and mobility - General requirements for access - New building work.

While the NCC only requires a closet pan, washbasin, shelf or bench top and a sanitary towel disposal bin within a toilet, if other fixtures and fittings are included, such as a soap dispenser or mirror, they must also comply with the requirements of AS 1428.1.

We also need to consider ‘ambulant accessible toilets’. 

A person with an ambulant disability is someone who is able to move about without the need for a wheeled mobility device, but who would benefit from a raised pan and handrails to assist in raising and lowering. 

The design specifications for ‘ambulant accessible toilets’ are in AS 1428.1 and include features such as door openings of minimum 700 mm, grab rails on both sides of the cubicle and a pan seat height of between 460 mm and 480 mm. 

The requirements for ‘ambulant accessible toilets’ are only triggered if there are male/female toilets in addition to an accessible unisex toilet at a bank of toilets.

Design specifications for ‘ambulant accessible cubicles’ are also in AS 1428.1.

F4D12 Adult change facilities. The NCC requires accessible adult change facilities to be provided in some Class 6 shopping centres and some Class 9b buildings, depending on their purpose, floor space area and design occupancy levels. 

This requirement is primarily targeted at large public buildings including shopping centres, sports stadiums, aquatic centres, museums, art galleries and airports.

Part F4D12 in conjunction with Specification 27, sets out the particular requirements and specifications for accessible adult change facilities.

Slide 12:

Interpreting the DTS Provisions in Part F4

Question 1: According to Part F4, what facilities/elements must an accessible unisex sanitary compartment contain?

Answer 1: F4D5 Accessible sanitary facilities. An accessible unisex sanitary compartment must contain a closet pan, washbasin, shelf or bench top, means for disposal of sanitary products, other fixtures and fittings to comply with AS 1428.1.

Question 2: According to Part F4, where and how many accessible unisex sanitary compartments must be located in a Class 5, 6 or 7 building?

Answer 2: Part F4D6 Accessible unisex sanitary compartments. If required according to F4D5, then one unisex sanitary compartment must be located on every storey that contains sanitary compartments. If there is more than one bank of male and female sanitary compartments on any storey, then one unisex sanitary compartment must be located at not less than 50% of those banks. For example, if there are 4 sets of sanitary compartments on a floor, then at least 2 of those sets must have an accessible unisex sanitary compartment.

Question 3: According to Part F4, where and how many accessible unisex showers must be located in a Class 5, 6 or 7 building?

Answer 3: Part F4D7 Accessible unisex showers. If one or more showers are required according to F4D5, then there must be at least one accessible shower for every 10 showers, or part thereof. So, for example, if there is one shower required, then it must be an accessible shower, or there must be an additional accessible shower, are 2 showers required, then one must be an accessible shower, are 10 showers required, then one must be an accessible shower, are 11-20 showers required, then 2 must be accessible showers, are 21-30 showers required, then 3 must be accessible showers.

Question 4: Where in Part F4 will you find requirements for hoists, change tables, changing rails and signage in accessible adult change facilities?

Answer 4: Specification 27 Accessible adult change facilities (referenced in F4D12). S27C3 Hoist. S27C7 Change table. S27C8 Changing rails. S27C10 Signage.

Slide 13:

In which Section and Part will you find the DTS Provisions related to accessible passenger lifts? Section E, Part E3, E3D7 Passenger lift types and their limitations. Sanitary facilities for people with disability? Section F, Part F4, F4D5 Accessible sanitary facilities

Carparking for people with a disability? Section D, Part D4, D4D6 Accessible carparking

General access requirements for people with a disability? Section D, Part D4, D4D2 General building access requirements. Hearing augmentation systems? Section D, Part D4, D4D8 Hearing augmentation. Liveable housing? Section G, Part G7 Liveable housing design.

Slide 14:

Assessment Methods for accessibility. Whether you choose to use a DTS Solution or a Performance Solution or a combination of both, you may need to provide some evidence that the proposed solution complies with the Performance Requirements.

The NCC recognises 4 valid ways of assessing possible compliance solutions, which are shown on the slide.

All 4 methods can be used to demonstrate compliance with all or part of the Performance Requirements when you are using a Performance Solution. 

The various accessibility related Sections and Parts of NCC Volume One include a number of relevant Verification Methods, each of which can be used in certain circumstances.

Slide 15:

Verification Methods for accessibility. Which of the access related Verification Methods in Volume One could you use in each of the following circumstances?

Question 1: To verify that the proposed number of sanitary facilities in a building complies with F4P1? Answer 1: F4V1 Sanitary facilities.

Question 2: To verify compliance with access requirements to and within a building, using a reference building? Answer 2: D1V2 Access to and within a building.

Question 3: To verify compliance with requirements for the slip resistance of a wheelchair ramp? Answer 3: D1V3 Ramp gradient, crossfall, surface profile and slip resistance for ramps used by wheelchairs.

Slide 16:

Applying the accessibility provisions

Building 1: Apartment building. 5 storey block of 16 apartments. Common laundry on ground floor and rec-room on first floor. Front entry higher than the street. Rear entry at ground level

Building 2: Office building. Multi-storey office building. 2,300 m2 floor area. Kitchen and shower facilities on each floor. Entry from street level and underground carpark

Building 3: Block of 2 shops. Small block of 2 shops, each with its own street entry. Single store

Slide 17:

How do the accessibility provisions apply to upgrades to existing buildings?

Generally, the NCC applies equally to new buildings and new building work in existing buildings by virtue of state and territory building regulations that apply the NCC.

However, the Disability (Access to PremisesBuildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards) have different requirements for some existing buildings or features. Under building law, differentiating the requirements for existing buildings is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. 

For this reason, a full understanding of what is required can only be achieved by looking at the NCC, relevant state and territory building regulations, AND relevant federal regulations.

Three areas for particular consideration are concessions to the requirements for upgrades to existing lifts and accessible unisex toilets. Exemptions for existing Class 1b and Class 2 buildings. Application of what is referred to in the Premises Standards as the ‘affected part’ of a building.

The Premises Standards provide concessions for changes to existing lifts and toilets. Some exemptions Class 1b and Class 2 buildings.

Affected part of the building:

In some situations, the Premises Standards require an upgrade to the ‘affected part’ of a building.

The affected part of a building is the path of travel from the principal pedestrian entrance (main entrance) to the area of the new work within the building.

In a multi-storey building, providing an accessible path of travel could mean an upgrade of the path of travel from the main entrance to the lift and up the lift to the floor where the new work is taking place. Removing a front entry step. Upgrading required handrails. Upgrading the access features of the lift such as braille and tactile lift buttons. A combination of these and other measures.

The reason for this requirement is to encourage more extensive upgrades of buildings over time and to ensure that in appropriate cases, access is available to new areas of buildings that include accessibility.

For example, there is little point in having level 6 or 10 of a building fully accessible if you cannot get to that area.

Guidance on the application of the Premises Standards is available from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Slide 18:

Other useful resources

Compliance with AS 1428.1 Design for access and mobility – General requirements for access – New building work is mandatory if they have chosen to use a DTS Solution and this standard is referenced in an applicable provision.

Use of the Guide to NCC Volume One and the handbook is not mandatory. They provide guidance and help, but nothing in them needs to be complied with in order to comply with the NCC.

Slide 19:


Section D Access and egress

Main provisions relating to accessibility in Volume One in Part D4

How people enter and move around a building

Accessible carparking

Safe evacuation during an emergency

Section E Services and equipment – accessibility of passenger lifts and lifts used for evacuation

Section F Heath and amenity - accessible sanitary facilities, and accessible adult change facilities

Section G Ancillary provisions – additional DTS Provisions for buildings in alpine areas, buildings with atriums, occupiable outdoor areas and livable housing

Section I Special use buildings - DTS Provisions for accessibility in passenger use areas of public transport buildings

Slide 20:

Key points

Overall aim is to provide safe, equitable and dignified access to:

A building, and 

Its services and facilities

More than just ramps and wheelchair access

Should consider how building is likely to be used and by whom

Accessibility provisions apply to new buildings and upgrades to existing buildings, with some concessions under the Premises Standards

Accessibility requirements can be met using DTS Provisions or a Performance Solution

Several NCC Verification Methods

Slide 21:

Thank you for your time. That brings our presentation on Using the accessibility provisions of NCC Volume One to a close. If you’d like more information please visit