Accessibility design for people with learning support needs

Find the legal requirements for making your school accessible.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Inform

  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Architects and designers
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Project Managers

Boards must meet the legal requirements for making your school accessible for students, their caregivers and staff with learning support needs. 

Making your school accessible for people with learning support needs

You need to work towards making your school accessible for students, caregivers and staff who have learning support needs. As a board, you must meet the legal requirements for access to your school.

It is most cost effective to do accessibility upgrades when you are doing other work, even if your school doesn’t currently have any people with learning support needs.

When working with your designer to design a new building, or upgrade an existing one, consider how to make the building accessible.

Assessment tool

Use the School Evaluation of the Physical Environment (SEPE) survey tool when planning upgrades to your school.

Refer to Designing learning environments page for more information and FAQ regarding SEPE.

Creating accessible car parks and drop-off zones

You should consider providing a parking space for people with disabilities.

Car parks

Legal requirements for access

As a school board, you must meet the following legal requirements for access to schools for students with learning support needs. Some of these provisions also apply to access for staff and caregivers.

Education and Training Act 2020

Section 37, Education and Training Act 2020(external link) gives students who need learning support the right to be enrolled at:

  • a state school
  • a special class, or
  • a special clinic.

The school property must be able to accommodate their special physical requirements.

Human Rights Act 1993

Under Section 57, Human Rights Act 1993(external link), it's unlawful for a school to deny access to a student because of their disability.

Building Act 2004

Under Section 118, Building Act 2004(external link), when a school is being built or altered, the school must adequately provide for people with disabilities in terms of:

  • access
  • parking
  • toilets
  • bathrooms.

This requirement covers all people who might use or visit the school, including:

  • students
  • staff
  • parents
  • any others who might visit the school.

Building Code

Under Clause D1 (Access Routes) Building Code(external link) a board must make sure all students and other people with disabilities can enter the building and carry out normal activities and functions.

New Zealand Standard 4121:2001

NZS 4121:2001 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities is the design standard for access and mobility. The Ministry has adopted it as mandatory and schools must follow it.

NZS 4121 includes prescriptive requirements. For example, door handles must be designed so that people with limited arm strength can open them.

If you comply with NZS 4121, you will also comply with the Building Code’s requirements for accessibility.

NZS 4121:2001 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities — Standards NZ website(external link)

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