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Universal design and effective building practices – glossary of terms

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If you can’t find the exact term you’re looking for or have questions about these definitions, please contact us.



access consultant
A qualified person who gives advice about accessible environments. They can provide services like accessibility appraisals, audits, design, research, training, information on building codes, and advice on good practice in accessibility. They consider if the building meets relevant standards and human rights principles, and how well it can be used by people.


The Department for Education.


hearing augmentation
Equipment or technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to help them communicate. These can be audio, visual and tactile tools. Common hearing augmentation systems include induction hearing loops, infrared or FM systems.


luminance contrast
The difference in how light and dark different surfaces are.


otitis media
A group of inflammatory diseases of the middle ear that can lead to hearing loss.


passive supervision
A way for staff to supervise children and students without needing to be in the same room. For example, having glass walls between rooms. This allows children to have some autonomy in their activities.
PEG feeding
A way to feed someone through a tube to their stomach. It stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy.
A sense of how your body is positioned and how it’s moving.


restrictive practice
Any thing or act that removes someone's freedom or interferes with their ability to make a decision. This includes detaining them, keeping them separate or isolated, or in any kind of restraint.


soft fall material
Soft material in play areas that children can fall on without injury. There are national standards for the materials that are used.
A sound system that sends a teacher’s voice to speakers in a room. It allows people to move freely as they talk. It amplifies the teacher’s voice and makes it easier for children to focus and learn.


toilet transfer sign, left-hand or right-hand
A sign that shows which direction someone transfers from their wheelchair to an accessible toilet. If a transfer is from the left-hand side of a wheelchair, the sign would say ‘left hand transfer LH’.
transitional space
A space that children can retreat to if they want to get away from the main classroom. It could be covered outdoor areas next to an indoor classroom that is supervised by staff.


universal design
A way of designing products, services and environments so that they can be used by everyone as well as possible, without needing extra adaptations or special designs made.


The ways in which people work out where they are and how to get to different places. It is the information system and process that helps people to understand the physical environment and guides them through it.


Many of these definitions come direct from the effective building practices report, others are drawn from the DHS Safeguarding People with Disability Restrictive Practices policy, and some are from Department for Education policies.


Thank you to all of the people who contributed to this work including the children, students, parents and carers and staff interviewed from early childhood education and care sites and schools.

Gratitude is also extended for the contributions from architects, facility planners, a landscape consultant, disability service providers, sector staff, the project group, the Institute of Access Training Australia, Julia Farr Youth Committee, Julia Farr Association Purple Orange, and staff from Architecture & Access (Aust) Pty Ltd.

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