Our team of NRAC Registered Access Consultants combine a detailed knowledge of disability legislation and best practice, with the technical, practical and commercially- aware approach that you would expect of a Chartered Building Surveyor.
This ensures we deliver Access Audit Reports which really focus on the client brief and include recommendations which are ‘buildable’, cost- effective and always deliverable.
We don’t have an ‘agenda’ and always focus on what our client wants, be that a desire to drive best-practice standards or simply to be sure that they are meeting minimum requirements.
What is an Access Audit?
An Access Audit (also known as a DDA audit, Disability Discrimination Act Audit or Disabled Access Audit) is an assessment of a building, an environment or a service against best-practice standards to benchmark its accessibility to disabled people.
Our Access Audits then assess what is reasonable for you to do, as is required by the Equality Act 2010 (which supersedes the Disability Discrimination Act 1995).
Our Access Audits set out clear recommendations with priority ratings and costs, to enable you to plan and budget for necessary adjustive works.
Unlike many of our competitors, we focus on reasonable adjustments, as is required by the Equality Act, thus avoiding unnecessary and costly measures, which we often see in Audits prepared by less experienced and unqualified auditors.
What is the DDA/Equality Act?
The Disability Discrimination Act came into force in 1996 and made it illegal to discriminate against a disabled person for reasons related to his or her disability. This covered the fields of employment, service provision, transport and education. The DDA required employers, service providers and education providers to make reasonable adjustments to avoid discrimination.
The Equality Act 2010 brought together all anti-discrimination legislation into one Act and covers disability, race, gender, religious, sex and age discrimination and supersedes the DDA, but the requirements remain much the same.
The Equality Act has different requirements depending on whether you are an employer, service provider or an educational establishment. The best way to establish these is to call one of our Access Consultants who will be happy to advise how the Act applies to you.
How is the DDA/Equality Act enforced?
Unlike other statutory law, there is no Local Authority or Government Officer who enforces the legislation. It is left to an individual to bring a civil action against an organisation where they feel aggrieved.
Why do I need an Access Audit?
An Access Audit helps you to understand your obligations under the Equality Act. It identifies barriers to access, sets out options for removing these barriers, assesses which option is the most reasonable and then makes a clear recommendation as to which option to implement, when to do it and how much it will cost. The Access Audit can form the basis of a plan of action to enable you to improve the accessibility of your building, environment or service over time.
By having an Access Audit and then implementing its recommendations, you will be able to demonstrate that you have adopted a reasonable approach, which will help you to defend a complaint or action brought against you by a disabled person, but more importantly, you will be improving access for disabled people and, in all likelihood many other users.
The Equality Act Code of Practice states that the completion of an Access Audit by a ‘suitably qualified person’ will ‘help service providers to meet their obligations under the Act’. Evans Jones are NRAC Registered Access Consultants and Chartered Building Surveyors, so you can be sure that we are ‘suitably qualified’.
What does the Access Audit Cover?
The scope of the audit will depend on how the Equality Act applies to you, which we will discuss and agree with you before quoting. However, our Audit will generally cover all elements of your building and environment, following the ‘journey’ of a disabled user.
Typically an audit would cover:
- Approach and Car Parking
- Horizontal Circulation - corridors
- Lifts and Stairs
- Internal Doors
- Signage and Wayfinding
- Means of Escape for Disabled People
There are usually many other site-specific elements, which we also cover, so please be assured we offer a comprehensive service.
As Section 3 of the Equality Act covers all elements of your service, we can also offer audits of other services such as:
- Communication Audits (leaflets, menus guidebooks etc).
- Website Access Audits - checking accessibility for users with visual impairments and learning difficulties.
- Policy and Procedure Audit - checking that your policies and procedures do not discriminate against disabled people.
Our audits are presented in a user-friendly format, using photographs to illustrate each issue, with clearly defined recommendations, which are prioritised and costed. We are happy to supply an example on request.