What is an access audit?
An access audit (previously known as a Disability Discrimination Act Audit) provides a comprehensive inspection and assessment of a building, an environment, or a service on accessibility and usability for all occupants.
The access audit will establish how well a building performs concerning access and ease of use by a wide range of potential building users – this will include people with mobility, cognitive and sensory impairments, pregnant women, parents with young children, people who require religious or gender-neutral facilities and many more. The results will be benchmarked against best practice standards and show you how to make your building, environment, or service more accessible under The Equality Act 2010, which was passed in April 2010 and has superseded the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, amended in 2005.
What does an access audit cover?
The audit inspection is a physical journey beginning from local transport links e.g., bus stops and car parks to the point of entry to the buildings. Once inside the building, the journey continues throughout the space to all levels and extents of the property. To ensure the most suitable recommendations can be given, one of the key elements to identify is a clear understanding of the goods and services provided and activities undertaken within and around the building.
During the audit journey discussions are normally held (where possible), with site staff, members of the public, and managers to gain an understanding of services provided, specific management and access issues. Where possible, discussions are held with Building Managers in advance of the audit to identify disabled individuals or organisations that it may be beneficial to meet with to discuss their viewpoints concerning the accessibility of the facility. In addition, floor plans are either obtained from the client or drawn up whilst on site to help locate and identify specific issues and assess the practicality and reasonableness of adjustments.
Typically, there are three variants of audit that we can provide:
- Access audits on existing sites and buildings
- Access audits related to individuals e.g., a new employee, where you understand their capabilities and restrictions, then review the layouts and facilities in relation to their disability
- Pre-construction access audits where you review design proposals and comment on issues with compliance
A standard audit would specifically look at elements such as:
- Abilities of all employees and/or visitors
- Access from the transport links, car park and site boundary
- Accessibility of amenities i.e., toilets, welfare facilities, baby changing facilities etc
- Approach and access points to the building
- Evacuation in the event of an emergency
- Facilities for the hearing impaired
- Horizontal and vertical movement within the building and to all useable spaces
- Signage and information to and around the building
- Review of site and/or building plans for compliance
- Use of the building
Why Choose Concertus to help?
The Equality Act Code of Practice states that the preparation of this type of audit must be carried out by a “suitably competent person” as this will “help service providers to meet their obligations under the Act”. At Concertus, our team of auditors are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building, so you can rest assured your audit will be carried out by a suitably qualified person.