Everyone should be able to fully participate within society, and built environment accessibility plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. An access audit is one of the first of many steps that can help to improve accessibility of the built environment.
The purpose of an Access Audit is to establish how well a building performs in relation to access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users, including people with physical mobility, cognitive and sensory impairments.
To many, an access audit is a checklist of guidelines that need to be adhered to. However, an access audit of the built environment is much more than that. Audits of the built environment need to consider the day to day running of the building, the building type, management issues, maintenance and safety as well as the checklist of building design criteria. An access audit should also include egress and needs to consider access and safety in emergency situations (safety zones, routes, signage, emergency equipment etc.)
The Equality Act of 2010 encompasses and maintains the requirements and duties of the previous Disability Discrimination Acts (DDA). of 1995 & 2005.
We recommend reasonable adjustment measures to help you comply with your duties under the equality laws.
Reasonable is a key word in all recommendations following an access audit. We will only recommend what is reasonably expected of you to fulfil your duties and this will be proportionate to how great a barrier to access it is and the availability of resources. Some barriers to access can be avoided rather than removed by good design and sometimes by offering a service in a different way.
The first step in making reasonable adjustments is to have an access audit carried out to identify what if any barriers there are. Once the audit has identified any issues then the next stage is to implement a programme of works so that many physical alterations can be accomplished within a planned maintenance programmes. Any Health and Safety issues might need to be prioritised differently.