Take off for access consultancy project at Perth Airport

The Access Team at VisAbility and Guide Dogs WA have both provided access service consultancy for two new Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs) at Perth Airport (link opens in new window).

Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs) are allocated spaces so that service dogs can relieve themselves.

One is in Terminal 1, the other in Terminal 4. They will make it easier for passengers travelling with an assistance animal.

Creating an inclusive travel experience

VisAbility Access Consultant David Vosnacos says busy airports can be challenging environments for service dog users and their animals.

“Airports are usually unfamiliar territory and lack orientation points. A person needs to navigate this complex environment and be aware of their service dog’s needs such as toileting and hydration,” he explains.

The two facilities were opened at the airport where mask wearing is still mandatory.

Guide Dogs WA, a Guide Dog Handler Greg Madson with wife Erika and David along with Customer Experience manager Emily O'Connell stand in the new facility
VisAbility and Guide Dogs WA provided feedback and consultancy into the two SARA facilities

Perth Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer, Kate Holsgrove, said the new facilities would significantly improve the travel experience for people with disabilities.

“We’re continually looking at opportunities to improve access. People with service animals want to know that that their animal is cared for in the best possible way, whether that be pre or post-flight whenever they travel.”

Access consultancy to improve design

David Vosnacos provided guidance into the the location of the two facilities.

“They are located in areas that are easy to access, where people are waiting on baggage and at check-in. These are places where waiting times occur, and a service animal might need to relieve itself.  Both are close to toilet facilities so are intuitive for people to find.”

David Vosnacos – VisAbility Access Consultant

VisAbility is just one of many organisations that makes up Perth Airport’s Access and Inclusion Customer Reference Group. The Group also includes other bodies such as Blind Citizens WA, the Department of Communities and People with Disabilities.

The Group is a platform to discuss accessibility, barriers to inclusion in order to improve the airport customer experience for people with disabilities.

David kneeling beside grassed area off SARA facility
Access Consultant David Vosnacos offered feedback about location, design and overall accessibility

Consistent design for SARAs

VisAbility’s David Vosnacos said the indoor areas were private. Braille and audio signage direct people to the two facilities.

“We wanted a consistent design. It means that regardless of your disability, you will find key aspects in each one: instructional signage, grassed area, hose reel bag dispenser, and disposal points.”

As well as VisAbility, Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and Trainers from Guide Dogs WA (link opens in new window) also provided input over placement, features, and comfort of the facilities.

Design elements

The design elements of the new service animal relief areas include:

  • Wall-mounted water bowl
  • Signage (including braille)
  • Distress assistance/ cleaning assistance call button connected to the Airport Control Centre
  • Paper towel dispenser and waste receptacle
  • Accessible washbasin with shroud and mixer
  • Wall-mounted soap dispenser
  • Audio instructions – activated by a push-button
  • Surface-mounted waste receptacle
  • Wall-mounted dog waste bag dispenser
  • Non-slip, removable astroturf
  • Slip resistance floor finish
  • Retractable wall-mounted hose unit.

VisAbility welcomed the opportunity to be part of this project with Perth Airport. We hope to work on future initiatives with the Airport again.

Three Guide Dogs in front of side of facility
Guide Dogs WA and VisAbility were both invited to the launch

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