What is an Access Audit, and why do you need it?
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 and sensory impairments.
It is valuable:
- To identify necessary adjustments in the service provided to disabled customers to meet the requirements of current provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act, BS8300 and Part M of the Building Regulations. Together with other relevant legislation dependant on the service provider.
- As the first “reasonable step” to disabled access indicated in legislation, in recognising the possible obstacles, and devising solutions, to avoid possible litigation by discriminating by way or a worse service to a disabled customer.
- To consider existing management and organisation of a building and the service from it, to achieve maximum accessibility.
- As part of a future Disabled Access Action Plan, enabling incorporation of reasonable adjustments on future refurbishment, regular maintenance and budget planning for substantial capital costs.
- Most importantly, to anticipate and plan reasonable physical alterations, and claiming a part of the large, very loyal disabled customer market.
The Access Audit and Its Contents
The Access Audit is the first “reasonable step” in consideration of maximum accessibility in a building
The Access Audit Report records the building, and establishes how well that building performs in terms of access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users.
It identifies good and bad practice, design and layout in regard to disabled access, identifying obstacles to people with mobility and sensory impairments.
In addition, the audit report will then seek to find solutions to access problems, with recommendations and relative costing’s.
Recommended work will be prioritised into absolutely essential work so as to remove major obstacles or comply with legislation. It will also identify this work in three categories:
- Work of a comparatively minor nature or adjustment to working practice or management, at low cost.
- Adaptations which can be carried out as part of ongoing maintenance, refurbishment and redecoration.
- Major capital items which may need to be budgeted for, particularly considering reasonable physical adjustments.
Criteria for recommendations will be the Disability Discrimination Act, including new Regulations, with its Code of Practice, Part M Building Regulations, BS8300 and best practice to consider positively towards complete accessibility.
Physical Barriers Considered In The Audit
Getting To The Premises:
- Approach and routes to entrance
- Lighting and signage to entrance
- Surfaces of approach
- Street and grounds furniture
Getting Into The Premises:
- Steps and ramps
- Entrance doors and thresholds
- Reception areas including desks, seating and lighting
Getting Around The Premises:
- Lateral circulation, width of corridors etc.
- Internal direction signs
- Floor surfaces, and tonal contrasts of surfaces
- Vertical circulation – lifts and stairs
Using The Services In The Premises:
- Toilets, washrooms, changing and bathroom facilities
- Access to and in eating and bar areas
- Public room access and layout
- Lighting, heating and acoustics
- Accessibility of switches, handles and controls
- Seating and furniture
- Telephones and electrical equipment
- Alarms and acoustics
Getting Out Of The Building:
- Fire exits and escape routes
- Emergency lighting and warning systems
- Safe refuge areas in event of fire
Managing The Building And Service:
- Keeping routes clear and obstructions removed
- Maintenance of lighting, heating and alarm systems
- Attitudinal approach of staff
- Publicity material, menus etc.