scroll

On Trial: Accessible Design at Courthouses

Back to Blog Articles
01 December 2014

It is not inconceivable for participants in the judicial system to have a disability.  The design of courthouses and courtrooms, however, should not be such that it constitutes a barrier for a person that happens to have a disability when attending court, whether in the capacity of supporting their friend or loved one in court, or facing a charge, or pursuing legal redress, or acting as an advocate, or serving as a witness, a juror, or a judge.

It is not inconceivable for participants in the judicial system to have a disability.  The design of courthouses and courtrooms, however, should not be such that it constitutes a barrier for a person that happens to have a disability when attending court, whether in the capacity of supporting their friend or loved one in court, or facing a charge, or pursuing legal redress, or acting as an advocate, or serving as a witness, a juror, or a judge.

The elimination, as far as practicable, of access that is discriminatory on the grounds of disability to premises is one of the objects of the federal Disability Discrimination Act 19921. The above object from the Act is no less applicable to a courthouse than any other type of public building.

This is not to say that accessible design in courthouses and courtrooms is not without its challenges.  Consider, for example, that a courthouse would typically cater for multiple classes of users, including judges and magistrates, jurors, witnesses, persons in custody, members of the legal profession, and members of the public.  In a typical courthouse and courtroom, the circulation paths and designated zones for the various classes of users would often be required to be predominantly segregated from each other.

This requirement can pose significant design challenges.  It often necessitates the use of complex circulation paths.  Such paths, in turn, require careful planning of the continuous accessible path of travel for people with a disability.

So long as the requirement for the participants to physically attend court remains central to the functioning of the judicial system, the ability of all participants to physically access courthouses will remain a threshold issue for a significant portion of the community, and the challenges of accessible design at courthouses will need to be confronted.

1See Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), section 3.

Eden Fong

Contact us

Have a
Question?

Please complete the email form and we will come back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively you can contact us directly using the contact details on the right

Our Offices

Sydney
Studio 6, Level 1
56 Bowman Street
Pyrmont NSW, 2009
(02) 9692 9322
Melbourne
Unit 308, 87 Gladstone St
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
(03) 9690 0102
Brisbane
99 Kingfisher Road
Victoria Point
Brisbane QLD, 4165
0476 299 321
Perth
24 Mumford Place
Balcatta, Perth, WA, 6021
0414 576 891
Wollongong
Unit 1, 27 Atchison Street
Wollongong, NSW, 2500
(02) 4226 2071