DDA Audit - Our take on what an Audit should give to the client
A DDA Audit should give the client clear, unambiguous advice to help the client to improve the accessibility of their service to members of the public and thus offer them protection under the DDA.
When dealing with buildings the DDA auditor should ‘follow the journey’ of a customer or visitor starting from the site boundary (or even beyond) and then working systematically through the building and facilities as a member of the public would. Thus one would typically expect DDA audit headings to begin with Approach and Car Parking and then lead to Entrances, Reception, Corridors, Vertical Circulation, Toilets, Meeting Rooms etc etc.
The DDA auditor should clearly identify barriers to access for all disabled users (not just wheelchair users) encountered along this route and then outline options for their removal. I would expect the DDA auditor or consultant to then discuss the ‘reasonableness’ of each option and make a firm recommendation to the client as to which option to implement and when to do so.
I have seen numerous DDA audits where the auditor has simply identified the options without making a recommendation to the client. I consider this to be of little value to the client who is usually paying the consultant for guidance and firm advice.
In my opinion the very term Consultant implies that you are an expert and thus have sufficient knowledge to make firm recommendations to the client. If you are not able to do so then I do not feel that you should be calling yourself an Access Consultant.
To give an example if I broke my leg I would expect the Orthopaedic Surgeon to tell me exactly how to repair it. I would not expect the Consultant to say ‘Well we could bandage it up and see if it heals, we could put it in a cast or we could fix the bones together with screws and plates. Your choice?’
This is of course a somewhat facetious example but I do feel strongly that a competent Access Consultant should be making recommendations in a clear unambiguous fashion. In terms of how these results are presented there are numerous different formats but it presents best practice to list each recommendation and provide a priority rating and cost banding or detailed budget cost for each item.
These recommendations should be allied to a detailed discussion of each barrier and the options available for removing it which can then be used by the client to justify actions taken (or even inactions) where challenged at a later date.
See below an example of our format:
For those of you who subscribe to Isurv the following link will take you to their template which is also a reasonable starting point.
As a practice Evans Jones are proud that our DDA Audits always give clear unambiguous recommendations to our clients and we like to feel that our format is also very user friendly.
Clients such as HSBC, HMV, Whitbread, Travelodge and the Arts Council for Wales do, we feel, pay testament to this view.
Click on the link to read more about DDA Audits or to discuss with me direct send me an email or give me a call on 01242 531413.