Ambulant sanitary facilities – when do you need them and what do they look like?

The requirements to provide AMBULANT accessible facilities was prescribed in the Building Code of Australia (BCA) in 2011 as part of the adoption of the Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards.  Since the mandatory requirement for these facilities was introduced, there has been much confusion about when they are required and also the reason for providing them.

What is an ambulant accessible facility?

An ambulant accessible facility is one specifically designated for people with ambulant disabilities (such as people with arthritis or those that use a walking frame) who may find it very difficult to lower and raise from the pan but, do not require the full circulation space and support that a fully accessible toilet provides.

When are they required?

The requirements to provide an ambulant accessible facility is found in Part F2.4(c) of the BCA and refers to where there is a ‘bank’ of toilets (i.e. one of more toilets in addition to the accessible unisex sanitary compartment) a sanitary compartment MUST be provided for use by males and females.  The BCA and Premises Standard does not define a ‘bank’ but, it is considered to exist where you have a set of sanitary compartments for use by males and females (i.e. sitting side by side).

What do they look like?

The facility is not unlike a normal cubicle but has some specific requirements including:  

  • Minimum clear circulation spaces of 900 mm x 900 mm circulation spaces at doorways on both sides of airlock and cubicle doorways - refer to diagrams below (think of these as spaces that someone with a walking frame can stand whether the door is opened or closed);
  • 900-920 mm width inside the cubicle;
  • Accessible signage on the cubicle door.
  • The need for grabrails on each side of the cubicle. Each grabrail must be able to withstand a force of 1100N applied at any position;
  • A 610-660mm toilet pan projection from the rear to the front of the toilet pan;
  • A 460-480mm height range of the toilet pan seat above the finished floor level (the same requirement as an accessible toilet);
  • A toilet roll holder in an accessible location (the same requirement as an accessible toilet).
  • A minimum clear opening in the ambulant cubicle doorway of 700 mm.
  • Snib catches require a handle with a minimum length of 45 mm from the centre of the spindle;
  • A coat hook within the cubicle.

The diagrams showing ambulant facility requirements can be found in Section 16 of Australian Standard AS1428.1-2009.

Airlock Circulation Spaces

Some design solutions…

Most designers have been including an ambulant accessible facility in both the female and male toilets where there is more than one pan in each. 

Others have been providing a separate unisex ambulant accessible facility.  However, providing a unisex facility does not mean you are able to count the pan as 1 pan for both sexes as this only applies to accessible sanitary compartments (BCA F2.2(c)).

The BCA also requires the ambulant facility to have signage indicating its location which needs to be on the entry door to the toilets and also the door to the actual cubicle.

Note that of the multiple circulation spaces shown outside of the cubicle, only one of these needs to be met to comply.

Some designers have been making the ambulant accessible cubicle door a different colour in addition to providing signage which is a great idea and assists in identifying the ambulant cubicle, particularly when there are more than one in the facility.

If you have any further queries about ambulant facilities please do not hesitate to contact BuildSurv.