It’s a simple enough question, but the answer is not so straight forward!
The answer is “a structured assessment of accessibility of a given service, environment or set of information”.
Good access audits follow the user journey of how they arrive at, use and leave a building or facility taking into account the experience disabled people have had along the way. They cover a wide range of disabilities, not just wheelchair access. Most access audits include budget costs for works and prioritised recommendations to allow the client to respond accordingly over a period of time.
At idacs we tailor all our audits to meet our client’s needs. We don’t have a set format or template for access audits, we have hundreds of examples but so far we have not met two clients whose portfolio is the same, or who intend to use the information in the same way. We take the view that our audits must be useable by the reader and hence can provide word, excel or data based solutions depending on your circumstances.
Why undertake Access Audits?
Access audits are the first step to demonstrating your organisations efforts to comply with the Equality Act 2010 (formerly the DDA).
The statutory Code of Practice for service provision under the Equality Act states:
“. . . . . that the following actions will help service providers to meet their obligations under the Act:
•Carry out and act on the results of an access audit carried out by a suitably qualified person. “
idacs staff are accredited by the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC). The only accreditation in the UK. Most our people come from a construction background so you can be sure we give practical advice.
For most organisations, undertaking access audits is about managing the risks posed by the Equality Act but we like to think of as helping organisation improve the service they offer to disabled people.
When should we undertake access audits?
This is a difficult question. When the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was introduced it set out the legislative risks that lead to undertaking access audits. Effectively these risks are ongoing.
The current statutory code of practice for service provision under the Equality Act states:
•“Review regularly whether services are accessible to disabled people.
•Review regularly the effectiveness of reasonable adjustments and act on the findings of those reviews.”
By now all publicly accessible organisations should have done at least one complete access audit of their facilities. If you haven’t done one you’re unlikely to be able to demonstrate you efforts to comply with the Equality Act and you’re probably not giving your customers the service you would like!