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Designing school spaces for families of children and students with disability

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How it can help

Design features can be used to encourage interaction and help to establish trust and good relationships between staff, children and students with disability, and families. This helps to make a more inclusive environment.

Design features

These are design features identified by parents, staff and architects to help support families.

Reception area

Reception areas that are welcoming, inviting, calming, and nice to look at give a positive first impression to parents, carers and the community. They help to make everyone feel more included and can make children less anxious when they arrive.

Suggested reception area features

  • A front counter of different heights with leg room underneath will suit people who use wheelchairs and people of different heights.
  • Hearing assistance and augmentation.
  • Video screens that show parents gradually leaving can help to reassure children who might be anxious about their parents leaving.
  • Doors should:
    • be wide
    • open automatically
    • not have steps
    • have a continuous accessible path to the reception counter
    • allow children to get to other areas of the school without needing to go out the front entrance.
  • Furniture and displays should not clutter the space and should not be in the way of people with vision impairments or physical disability. Different kinds of seating with armrests and backrests will help everyone.  

Meeting rooms

There should be meeting spaces for staff to talk with parents, carers and students with disability, instead of using the staff room.

If spaces are close to the front entrance and away from classrooms and staff rooms, parents, carers and students can share sensitive information privately with staff. It makes it easier to do it at the beginning or end of the day. This helps keep the privacy and confidentiality of a student living with disability.


Think about the abilities of all users for special events. You might need to include:

  • access to stage areas
  • seating space for people in wheelchairs, next to carers and family
  • hearing augmentation
  • access to temporary structures and toilets.

Asset Standards and Environmental Management

This information was provided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability which ceased in 2019.

For advice on building standards contact:

Phone: 8226 3497
Email: education.standards@sa.gov.au

For advice on inclusive legislation and policies contact:

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Phone: 8226 0521
Email: education.DPP@sa.gov.au