The transition from AS1428.1-2009 to AS1428.1-2021 

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Legislation updates

In a stride toward a more inclusive environment, the updated AS1428.1:2021 standard heralds a significant evolution from its 2009 predecessor, promising enhanced accessibility in new building projects across Australia. With over 4 million Australians experiencing some form of disability, the refinement of these standards is not just a regulatory update but a societal imperative. As we anticipate the possible inclusion of AS1428.1:2021 in the NCC 2025 edition, let’s navigate through the transformative changes and their implications for the future of building design. 

From pathways to doorways and more

The journey from AS1428.1-2009 to AS1428.1-2021 brings forward-thinking modifications designed to foster environments that welcome everyone. Key enhancements include: 

  • Continuous accessible path of travel: the 2021 update introduces comprehensive guidelines for timber decking and boardwalks, emphasising slip resistance and safe access, ensuring seamless navigation for all users 
  • Door threshold ramps and doorways: an increased threshold ramp length and the introduction of pivot doors alongside detailed requirements for door reveals, underscores a commitment to doorway accessibility
  • Door automation buttons: a reduced distance that will still allow suitable space for the wheelchair user from the door swing
  • Stairs, ramps and handrails: the standard now accommodates a broader handrail diameter and updates stair nosing specifications, aligning with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (DSAPT), enhancing safety and compliance

DSAPT Clause 14.3 states:  

“Compliance with Australian Standards — conveyances. (1) If stairs are provided on a conveyance mentioned below, they must comply with: 

AS1428.2 (1992) Clause 13.2, Configuration of steps, Clause 13.3, Warning strip at nosing of steps (as shown below) 


Figure 1 AS1428.2-1992 Ref (DSAPT 2002)                          Figure 2 Stair nosing AS1428.1:2021 Detail  

  • Sanitary facilities and showers: innovations in the layout and equipment of sanitary facilities, including voice-activated controls and strategic flush control placements, alongside revised shower specifications, reflect a nuanced approach to user experience 
  • Ambulant cubicles: updated grab rail specifications to improve accessibility, with new allowances for rail placement and angle, plus the layout with a recessed basin clear of 900mm x 900mm circulation space exclusive of the door swing 
  • Visual and operational considerations: AS1428.1:2021 extends its reach to the visual and operational aspects of accessibility mandating contrasting lines and luminance contrasts across doorways and adjacent walls, the standard aims to guide individuals with vision impairments safely 
  • Appendix C: the summary referring to walkways, ramps and landings has been deleted and replaced by vision impairment informative text. Topics included now are understanding vision impairment, visual acuity, notes on legal blindness, contrast sensitivity, luminance contrast, depth perception, glare sensitivity and colour vision 

The journey ahead 

NCC 2022 references AS1428.1: 2009 which means that a Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Solution using a referenced document would have to use the 2009 version, even while there is a newer version available. However, we already see some contracts calling up the new AS 1428.1: 2021. You may be able to use this newer version of the referenced document but only as part of a Performance Solution. In summary, there is a lot of consistency within the two Standards but the key elements we note in the 2021 version are around the operating force on manual operation doors, the logos being outside the 75 mm strip, the slotted dimensions on threshold grates, the maximum 300mm door reveal depth, the updated dimensions for control hardware and the viewing panel sizes.

While AS1428.1:2021 awaits its likely adoption within NCC 2025, its influence is already permeating current projects, encouraging adherence to more stringent accessibility criteria. This transition period presents an opportune moment for architects, property owners, and builders to align their practices with the forward-looking standards, ensuring that upcoming buildings are not just compliant but are beacons of inclusivity. 

The path from AS1428.1-2009 to AS1428.1-2021 is not just a regulatory update but a reflection of the growing commitment to inclusivity. As the standards evolve, so does our understanding of what it means to create spaces that welcome everyone. The anticipation for the standard’s inclusion in NCC 2025 is a testament to the construction industry’s readiness to embrace these changes, ensuring that the buildings of tomorrow are safer, more accessible, and more accommodating for all Australians. it is a pivotal moment in the journey towards more accessible built environments. It challenges us to reimagine our spaces, ensuring they are designed with the needs of all users in mind. As we look forward to the future application of these standards, let’s embrace this evolution as a positive step towards inclusive design practices that enrich our society. For those navigating these updates, support is readily available through resources and guidance from industry experts, such as MBC Group’s DDA/Access Division.

Timeline NCC 2022 – 2025

The ABCB continues to meet with industry associations and professional bodies to discuss what to expect with the upcoming proposed changes to the next edition of the NCC. The proposed changes will be published in the NCC Public Comment Draft, being released on 1 May 2024 and closing on 1 July 2024. Information about the key changes will be provided in their upcoming Roadshow event series and on the website.

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