Outdoor open spaces offer unique challenges from an accessibility point of view as they are built around a natural environment. The key to enjoying nature is to preserve that environment and working with the constraints that it presents.

Common Concepts and Measures

This section defines some common concepts that are then used throughout the individual checklists for structures and features.

Clear Space to approach object760 mm X 1200 mm required in either direction so wheelchair user can approach object from front or side. (min area 1200 mm X 1200 mm)
Cross Slope
Maximum cross slope 2% (1:50) in any direction (Up to 3% in areas for drainage requirements (1:33))
Max 3% on paths and trails (up to 5% for drainage if necessary)
EntranceDoors and gates must be minimum 850 mm wide
Easy to operate door handle (lever style)
Door requires minimal force to open (2.5 kg max)
Accessible path and no barriers to access door
No threshold over 13 mm high, where over 6mm high should be bevelled at a slope of 1:2
1500 mm X 1500 mm space in front of all doors with 600 mm clearance beside
Clear signage indicating accessible entrance if not principal entrance
Easy to operate hand controlsControls should be operable with one hand (preferably closed fist) without tight grasping or twisting the wrist
Operating heights 380 mm- 1200 mm
No barriersAny object (natural or built) that reduces the path of travel to less than 920 mm wide or has a gap over 13 mm wide or threshold greater than 13 mm
No gratings running parallel to travel path unless less than 6 mm apart
No hazardsThere is adequate warning for hazards (signage)
All ground level hazards are protected
No hazards exist hanging 2000 mm from above
Objects should not protrude into the path more than 300 mm with a maximum of 680 mm above the ground
Knee clearanceClearance under counters/objects 680 mm high X 760 mm wide X 480 mm deep
StairsHandrails and stair details as per National Construction Code (NCC)
Slip resistant surface
Stairs must have opaque risers
Handrail 865-965 mm in height, extends 300 mm past top riser and continues one tread depth plus 300 mm parallel to floor past bottom riser
Handrail continuously graspable along entire length at least on one side
Detectable end markers to warn of ending handrail
Detectable tactile warning surfaces to warn of upcoming stair in urban settings and high use areas.
If used, should be used consistently throughout site
Luminance contrast strip 50 – 75 mm wide full width of step
RampsMaximum 1:14 rise (7.14%)
Minimum 920 mm wide
Maximum cross slope 2% to ensure drainage
Landings 1500 mm in length by width of ramp required at top, bottom and at changes of direction in ramp, as well as for every 910 mm vertical rise
Handrails required on both sides of ramp if slope steeper than 1:20
Handrails not required if ramp rise is less than 150 mm
Handrails continuous the full length of the ramp, 860-965 mm above ramp surface
Edge protection is provided if drop off is greater than 600 mm
SurfaceFirm, stable (Could a person ride a narrow tyred bicycle without making ruts? Max 6 mm indentation), with an accessible cross slope
Examples of surfaces include finely crushed aggregate, reinforced grass, paving, compacted wood chip surfaces, paving
Stairs, ramps, docks should have slip resistant surfaces
Devoid of drainage culverts or spoon drains
Signage24 point font with high contrast between foreground and background)
Minimal glare and reflection
Alternate formats exist at entrance of key buildings and amenities
Signage should be observable from seating or standing positions (centre of sign 1170-1575 mm above grade)
Alternate formats at entrance of all buildings and amenities
Signage uses simple language or symbols
Braille or audio sign information boards
Tactile Ground Surface Indicators
(Visually Impaired Visitors)
Use of TGSIs (Tactile Ground Surface Indicators) the rubber strips with dots or stripes – warning visually impaired of hazards, change of surface, stairs, ramps, roads and guides in appropriate direction
Handrail end returns at the ends of all handrails – warning visually impaired of the end of the handrail
Colour contrast, tactile signage and the International symbol of access usage
Lighting and shade that impact on facility access and for paths to facilities
Once used TGSIs must be used throughout the site

Picnic Areas/Pavilions

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Does the area have an Accessible surface?YES/NOProvide a picture of the picnic table with its surrounds, close up of the knee clearance and overhang, access path to the table/s
Is there a minimum of 1200 mm clear space around the picnic table?YES/NO
Is there knee clearance at at least one spot at picnic table?YES/NO
Can the picnic table or picnic shelter reached by accessible path?YES/NO
Are Accessible tables situated in variety of picnic settings? (some in shaded areas)YES/NO

Toilet blocks including pit toilets

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there 1500 X 1500 mm space within stall?YES/NOPictures required

Approach paths, entrance, stall clearly showing seat and hand rail positions, sink and mirror, and a close up of the taps

Does the cubicle door open outward?YES/NO
Are there Easy-to-operate hand controls on taps, toilets, stall doors, soap and dispensers?YES/NO
Are there grab bars on: YES/NO
wall beside toiletYES/NO
wall behind the toiletYES/NO
Does the sink have knee clearance and clear space?YES/NO
Is the toilet seats 460 mm – 480 mm high?YES/NO
Is the toilet paper dispenser within arms reach, not further than 300mm from front of the bowl?YES/NO
Is there a urinal mounted with rim max 500 mm above floor with no barriers?YES/NO
Are hot water pipes under basin insulated or protected to prevent leg contact?YES/NO

Pedestal BBQ

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible surface with 1200 mm clear free draining ground around the BBQ?YES/NOImages required

Approach paths, BBQ area with surrounds, operating controls and food preparation area

Is the cooking surface 750– 900 mm above ground?YES/NO
Is there an adjacent horizontal surface, at grill height, at least 200 mm wide on which to place hot objects?YES/NO
If the BBQ is gas or electric are the operating buttons raised?YES/NOYES/NO


QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible surface with 1200 mm clear free draining ground space around fireplace?YES/NOImages required

Approach paths to the fireplace, close up of the fireplace and cooking surfaces

Is the grate height on fireplaces 420 – 475 mm above ground ?YES/NO
Is the fire building surface 230 mm from ground?YES/NO


QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Do any wood bins should have a 920 mm clear opening for wheelchair access?YES/NOImages requires: Approach paths to the bin, close up of wood store
Is wood stacked no higher than 1200 mm?YES/NO
Is the base of the wood stack no lower than 380 mm from the ground?YES/NO

Drinking Water Fountain or Water Tap

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there 750-900 mm from ground to spout outlet?YES/NOImages required: Broad shot showing the fountain and approaches, close of controls, photo of dog bowling applicable
Is there an accessible surface with clear space in front adjacent to accessible path?YES/NO
Does the tap have easy to operate hand controls?YES/NO
Is there knee clearanceYES/NO
Is a service animal drinking bowl available?YES/NO

Tent Sites

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is an accessible tent site available?YES/NOImages required: Camp site showing the clear surrounding area, approach path, carpark
Is there 1200 mm clear space around tent pad?YES/NO
Is there at least one picnic table that allows for knee clearance in at least one spot?YES/NO
Is the site within 60 m of accessible toilet block?YES/NO
Can accessible sites be reserved on request?YES/NO
If provided are wheelchair accessible tent platforms, 430-485 mm above grade?

Shared Shower Facilities

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible entrance to shower cubical and building?YES/NOImages required: Approach path, entrance area, shower cubicle (including a close up of the shower head, controls and shower seat), change area
Is there a slip resistant surface?YES/NO
Is there clear space in front of shower for manoeuvringYES/NO
Is there a chair or fixed bench available to sit on while using shower?YES/NO
Are grab bars mounted 800 -810 mm above ground (bottom edge) along two walls?YES/NO
Does the shower have easy to operate hand controls within reach of the shower chair or bench?YES/NO
Does the shower have a max lip or sill 13 mm into the shower cubical?YES/NO
Does the shower have a portable shower head on flexible hose?YES/NO
If a door is fitted does it open outward with a minimum width of 850mm?YES/NO

Viewing Area/Platforms/Lookouts

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is the viewing area located on an accessible path?YES/NOImages required: approaches, guard rails, viewing area, telescopes where available
Is there clear space at viewing areaYES/NO
Are guard rails, if required, 1070 mm high max?YES/NO
Are guard rail walls either vertical rails or transparent to allow visibility below the top of the rail?YES/NO
If a telescope or periscope is provided, is there least one useable from a seated and standing position or have a moveable arm with easy to operate hand controls?YES/NO


QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible surface in transition from path/trails to boardwalks?YES/NOImages required: approaches, railings, boardwalk surface, edge curbs
Is the footway a min of 1500 mm wide?YES/NO
Does the boardwalk have a raised curb edge of not less than 75 mm high?YES/NO
Is the curb edge of a contrasting colour to the deck?YES/NO
Does it have maximum slope 1:20 5% YES/NO

Beach Access

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible path to the sand/water viewing area?YES/NOImages required: access path, surface if it is sand, boardwalks from the shoreline and from the water, if beach wheelchairs are available a photo of the equipment available
Is there an accessible path provided to water’s edge with surfaces including: flexible rubber runners, beach mats, boardwalks?YES/NO
Is there a change room with a change bench with a door wider than 850 mm?YES/NO
If beach wheelchairs are provided: YES/NO
Is there signage to indicate availability?YES/NO
Do beach wheelchairs need to be booked?YES/NO
Is a hoist available for transfer into beach wheelchairsYES/NO

Jetty/Boat Launching Facility

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is access to the jetty area from an accessible path?YES/NOImages required: access paths, jetty surface, edge protection, transfer platforms, lifts where fitted
Is the jetty a min 1500 mm wide?YES/NO
Where it is a launching facility, is the height within 450 – 600 mm of the water level allow easier access to boats?YES/NO
Does the jetty have raised edge protection of at least 75mm?YES/NO
Are the jetty edges emphasized with a colour contrasting strip that is a minimum of 50 mm wide?YES/NO
Does the jetty have ramped tiered transfer platforms that can be used to access the water from the jetty at differing tide heights?YES/NOIf the jetty is floating and accessed by a gangway note the differing gradients at high and low tide.

Fishing Platforms

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is the platform integrated with an accessible path?YES/NOImages required: access paths, platform area, railings and rod rests, seats, fish cleaning tables or benches
Is there a 1200 mm space behind the anglers for unrestricted pedestrian circulation?YES/NO
Is there a safety rail of at least 800 mm in height for seated users and 1070 mm for standing anglers?YES/NO
Does the top rail slant towards angler for armrest?YES/NO
Is shade, shelter and seating provided?YES/NO
If fish cleaning tables provided, is there a section of the table provided for wheelchair users with knee clearance and bench height for a seated position.YES/NO
Are there toilet blocks, parking within 200 m?YES/NO

Bird Hides

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an accessible entrance?YES/NOImages of entry
Seating positions including any wheelchair positions
Are all internal passageways at least 1200 mm wide?YES/NO
Is there at least one window minimum height 1070?YES/NO
Is there at least one wheelchair position with knee clearance?YES/NO
Is there an accessible toilet block within 60 metres?YES/NO
What is the distance from the nearest accessible parking?YES/NO

Information Centres/Shelters

QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Is there an Accessible entrance?YES/NO
Are all internal passageways 1200 mm wide?YES/NO
Is seating moveable?YES/NO
Do information displays use a 24 point type size, sans serif on a contrasting solid background?YES/NO
Are displays observable from seating or standing positions?(centre of sign 1170-1575 mm above grade for wall mounted display)YES/NO
Are there accessible toilet facilities within 60 m?YES/NO
Are there alternative information sources eg audio, braille?YES/NO
Is the circulation route clearly defined either by signage or contrasting floor colouring?YES/NO
Are there interactive displays can be operated from a seated position with knee clearance?YES/NO
Is accessible seating and wheelchair spaces provided?YES/NO
Is there sufficient light to accommodate speech to text and sign language conversation?YES/NO
Are there assistive listen systems or hearing loops provided? YES/NO


QuestionActionAccessibility Guide
Do signs use a 24 point type size, sans serif?YES/NO
Is signage observable from seating or standing positions? (centre of sign 1170-1575 mm above grade for wall mounted sign)YES/NO
Are signs setback 450-600 mm from pathways?YES/NO
Is the international symbol of accessibility displayed at accessible parking spaces, loading zones, accessible restrooms, and accessible site and facility entrances that are not the primary entrance?YES/NO
Is graphic information available to all including those with mobility, learning and visual impairments?YES/NO
Are raised or routed letters, which are helpful for visually impaired, used on signage?YES/NO
Is signage complemented by informational brochures to provide more detailed information?YES/NO


The layout of this section is a little different to the rest of the checklist. Below is a number of criteria and parameters for paths. It is an aid for evaluating existing infrastructure and a guide if building new paths.

Path ElementCriteria
Slope5% slope (1:20) or less, unlimited distance (max slope 5% on boardwalk)
From 5.1% to 8.3% (1:12) for maximum distance of 15 m
From 8.34% (1:12) for maximum distance of 9 m
No slopes greater than 10% permitted
Cross SlopeCross slope not to exceed 3% (5% maximum if necessary for proper drainage)
SurfaceFirm, stable
No ruts or stones
No gaps wider than 6 mm
WidthProvided every 15 m for slopes between 1:20 and 1:12, every 9 m for slopes between 1:12 and 1:10
1500 m in length by width of path
Distances may be increased between areas depending on site conditions
Edge ProtectionIf provided, should have a height of 75 mm (used at least on one side if drop from path is greater than 75 mm)
If drop from trail exceeds 600 mm, a railing should be provided


Trails and walks, by definition, as paths through the natural environment and as was once said there are no building codes in nature. Not all trails and walks will be suitable for everyone or meet strict accessibility standards. That does not mean that people with a disability will not want to explore as far as possible. It is important to present information about a trail or walk that aids individuals in making a decision about what trails or walks are suitable for them. An accessibility guide should present as much information as possible about the conditions of the trail including its steepest pinches and their length. The elements below give a guide on grading trails. Each of these elements should be included in the trails/walk’s description in your accessibility guide.

Trail ElementGrade
EasyModerateMore Difficult
Length of trail/walk0-3 km1-5 km+3 km
Width of trail surface1.8m+1.2 – 1.5 m920 mm
SurfacePaved (asphalt,concrete)
Compacted crushed aggregate (6 mm (1/4”)
Surface firm in all weather
Compacted crushed aggregate
Reinforced grass
Surface firm in all weather
Packed dirt
Compacted wood chips (small gauge, well compacted)
Crushed gravel
Max grade1:201:141:8
Max grade by length before resting area required1:20 for 15m1:20 for 100 m
1:16 for 50 m
1:10 for 4 m
1:20 for 200 m
1:16 for 100 m
1:10 for 20 m
1:8 for 8 m
Max grade over an extended distance1:1001:501:20
ShoulderNo dropsMinimal dropsVariable
Cross slope2% max3% max5% max
Rest stops/benches1 per 200 m1 per 400 mNot provided
Trail edges75 mm curb provided where the vertical drop from the trail exceeds 75 mm
Curb also offers “shoreline” for visually impaired users
75 mm curb at difficult or hazardous locationsNot provided

Note: A trail to or past a prominent feature should conform to the easy grade criteria.

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