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Designing building materials, fixtures and fittings

What it is

A building’s materials are the things it is made of, such as concrete, glass or wood. Fixtures and fittings are things that are permanently attached to a building, such as light switches and door handles.

How it can help

How materials are designed can change how easy a building is to use. It can help make it easier for children and students to get around the building.

The right fixtures can help children and students have good learning experiences. Excessive light and sound can cause distractions and make it difficult for students to concentrate. These can be removed by the right fixtures, for example, noise absorption material in walls, floors and ceilings.

Children and students can help choose, design, and build their learning spaces. It could be furniture, gardens or other decorative and useful things. This helps students to have a sense of ownership, pride, and belonging towards their learning spaces.

Design features to help people get around

Doors

Design doors to be easy to use. For example, make them wider than normal, light and easy to open and close. Use lever-style handles and additional door pulls that people can use from a wheelchair. Choose doors that can stay open without a door stop. Doors and door frames need luminance contrast with the walls. If the door handle stands out from the door, this will help people find it more easily.

Doors with windows in them can help people have a visual connection and move easily and safely between spaces. These are sometimes called vision panels.

Glass walls and windows

On doorways or walls that are fully glazed, use solid contrasting strips to show where they are. In places with smaller children, extra contrasting strips down low can help them to navigate.

Use double-glazing. It's more energy efficient and safer because they can be made of materials which don’t shatter.

Flooring

Use flooring that is functional for everyone, no matter how mobile they are. Flooring should be non-slip, and have a range of surfaces like tight-weave carpets that are easy to clean.

Highly patterned finishes should be avoided (especially in circulation areas) to reduce visual confusion.

Contrast between walls and floors will help people with confident wayfinding through spaces.

Carpets

Low pile carpets can allow people to move wheelchairs and wheeled mobility aids with less effort.

You should avoid using a carpet with a complicated pattern because this can make it confusing for people to see where they are and where to go.

Design that encourages people to participate

See-through dividers

Use glass or other fencing materials so children and students can be seen easily and can easily see the teacher and others. This means children and students can be supervised from further away. It can give students a feeling of independence.

Flooring

Indoor sports flooring should be impact-resistant. This will minimise injury, but still be hard enough to bounce a ball.

Blinds or curtains

There should be good quality blinds to block sun glare. This helps when the glare from the sun makes it harder to do some things like read whiteboards.

Blinds must not have cords.

More blinds are needed if an area has more glass for visibility. It’s important to have blinds for students who have light sensitivity.

Noise

Use features to make it quieter and help reduce distractions. This will also make it easier for people with hearing impairments to recognise and understand important sounds. You can use noise absorbing material in walls, floors and ceilings.

You can have imperfect square rooms that don’t echo as much. Echoing can make it hard for people with hearing impairments to hear and participate.

Contact

Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability

Phone: (08) 8226 3632
Email: educationminadv [at] sa.gov.au