Disability Access Audits
DDA access audits help to establish the performance of a building in relation to providing access and ease of use to a range of individuals, covering people with mobility, sensory or cognitive impairments. Providing an inclusive, accessible environment aids in ending unconscious discrimination and ensures essential services can be accessed by everyone.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced new laws aimed at ending the discrimination faced by many disabled people. The Act gave disabled people new rights of access to goods, facilities and services, as well as in employment and buying or renting property.
On 1st October 2010 the Equality Act 2010 repealed the Disability Discrimination Act (and subsequent regulations), with an aim of consolidating and streamlining discrimination legislation within Great Britain.
The Equality Act protects many of the previous provisions made under the Disability Discrimination Act, specifically with regards to access to services it:
- Provides protection for disabled people from direct discrimination in employment and related areas and other areas such as the provision of goods, facilities and services.
- Applies a Trigger point at which there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the disabled.
- Additional requirements relating to the provision of Auxiliary aids
Why do I need an Access Audit?
As a service provider the Equality Act may require that you make:
- Changes to the way things are done (such as changing a process).
- Changes to the build environment (such as providing access to a building), for example the removal or reasonable avoidance of a physical barrier to access.
- Provide auxiliary aids and services (such as providing information in different formats or providing a different service).
Contracting an independent access auditor can help you to fully understand your obligations under the Equality Act 2010, and identify areas of your facilities that are, or may become, barriers to access for individuals with disabilities.
A DDA Audit will then provide a series of options for removing these potential barriers and details which option is the most reasonable in terms of budget and logistics, including coverage of how, when and where the solution should be implemented as well as expected costs.
Conducting an access audit and implementing the recommendations provided assists estates and facilities to evidence reasonable action to provide accessibility to a range of individuals. Doing so will improve experience for all site visitors, not just disabled people, and will assist in defending against any actions brought against the estate by a disabled individual who has experienced accessibility problems.
What is covered within a Disabled Access Audit?
We conduct audits covering a facility as comprehensively as possible, however under certain circumstances the scope of the audit may be reduced or extended. Typically, a DDA audit will follow a ‘users journey’ covering all elements of the building and estates that the disabled user would require interaction with, such as:
- Facility approach and car parking
- Building entrances and exits
- Reception areas
- Corridors and access to other floors
- Internal door access
- Wayfinding and signposting
- Toilets and facility access
- Emergency escape routes
How Can NIFES Help?
NIFES can provide assistance to help you improve the accessibility of your facilities and services for all users helping you remove barriers to access
Since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was passed, NIFES has been involved in various aspects of Disability Access for a variety of Clients including Healthcare, Education and Commercial organisations.
Disabled access surveys to identify barriers to access are completed in accordance with the requirements of Equality Act and additionally sector specific requirements such as for educational facilities.
Survey recommendations are in accordance with published guidance including relevant Building Regulations, British Standards and other recommended access guidance for example published by UK government sectors and other disability rights bodies.
In addition to this NIFES has gone a step further with some clients, from the recommendation stage to specification and tendering stage for improvements to accessibility.
We have also assisted in the development of Access statements and the development of written policy and procedural documentation.
Whittington Health – Disability Access: Prioritising Capital Investment
Medical services have been delivered on the Whittington Hospital site since 1473. Whittington Health now provides general hospital and community services to 500,000 people living in north London boroughs.
NIFES Consulting Group was commissioned to update and expand on estate information relating to disability access. This was a further in-depth assessment of the 6 Facet Property Appraisal survey undertaken previously and audited compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
NIFES Consulting Group completed the surveys and updates within an 8 week programme, providing deliverables including floor evaluations, risk profile analysis, cost planning, and summative reports.