Run Projects

Written"PositiveStrongerGoals"

Glenn Kesbah picMost disabled toilet doors have spring closer mechanisms that are set way too hard for me to open, causing much difficulty. My plan is to audit Sydney's most visited public places by measuring the pressure of these door springs, and writing letters of complaint to the owners, informing them of the problem and noncompliance with Australian standards Rules AS 1428.1, with the aim of rectifying the problem and making life better for all disabled people. I have created a website (www.sydneybywheelchair.webs.com) which shows disabled people Sydney's most scenic places to visit, which are wheelchair accessible. Due to all the travel I do in Sydney I am confronted on a daily basis with not being able to open toilet doors due to excessively strong door springs. I now have a dog leash permanently attached to my electric wheelchair, which I have to tie to the door handle and use my wheelchair in reverse to pull the disabled toilet door open. This is embarrassing and dangerous, and often I injure myself in the process.

In my first application the panel suggested that "there is no legal requirement for a door closer". This is correct, however most disabled toilet doors do have a door closer fitted (probably for privacy reasons), and legally the door closer spring must comply with Australian Standard 1428.1 ( 2009) cl 13.5.2 Part E -20 Newtons or less pressure. If the door is a fire rated door it must by law have a door closer fitted. Failure to comply with the building code can result in prosecution under act 23 of the disability discrimination act. I took the advice of the panel and contacted a disability consultant, who gave me the above information. He also suggested I buy a Pesola Newton force tool, and test each premises on an individual basis. He suggested I write to all NON complying building owners informing them of the problem, and give them 7 days to rectify the problem. If the problem is not fixed in that time frame he suggested I lodge a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission, who has the power to prosecute if necessary. I am very confident my project will be successful in bringing about positive changes in disabled toilet door access, a problem that is affecting a lot of people with a disability, and has been ignored for too long.

I visited the State library in Sydney and was able to access the Australian Standards from the reference section of the library. The library pays a subscription fee and I was able to look up AS 1428.1 for free. There it was written that all door closers on disabled toilet doors must be no more than 20 Newtons to open, swing, and hold the door open.

newton force testing equipmentI am now well into my project with the targeted 40 different high profile tourist destinations in and around Sydney being inspected and tested for compliance. My results have confirmed that more than 85% of Disabled toilets with a door closer fitted are NON compliant and >20 Newtons. Some were as high as 60 Newtons; many were 35-40 Newton's. On a recent day out with a group of disabled people from Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) I watched as several people in wheelchairs struggled to open and close the disabled toilet door at the venue we were visiting. I happened to be carrying the Pesola Newton scale tool with me and took a measurement. The door registered 35 Newtons. I have sent a letter to this building owner as well as sent letters to every building owner in my study that was non-compliant. I have received several responses ranging from "we have taken action to rectify the problem" to "we will look into the problem" and some disappointingly defensive replies like "we have met all council requirements and all should be in order".

It is still early days and I have given each building owner 14 days to rectify the non-complying door closers.

If you would like to contact a building owner/manager about a non-compliant door closer please feel free to get in touch with Annie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and she can provide you with a letter template.