Removing One Step at a Time
Improving the accessibility of buildings and areas is more than just ticking boxes and meeting legal requirements. It is more about promoting an ethos of ensuring that all people have equal opportunities in order to access the same levels of services that are available. That is what the guidance provided through official building regulations and relevant legislation is based on and is practically advocated through:
Receiving recommendations from Access Consultants when designing plans for new builds.
Reviewing the quality of accessibility in current premises via Access Audits.
Revising the current setup in order to provide constructive recommendations to improve the level of access in order to ensure that the service/purpose provided is in line with The Equality Act 2010.
Access Audits are useful to have for any existing building that provides a service, purpose or employment to those that may have disabilities either in the present or potential future. They are a 'snapshot' of what an existing building is at the given time of the audit taking place in terms of their accessibility. They can be tailored to suit specific requirements and take into account the nature of the building or organisation which is being assessed. They cover how people approach, access and make use of the building and their facilities. In return, they assess how people leave the building, especially in the event of a fire and review what procedures are in place to counter this. Access Audits are particularly useful to be used as a point of reference when reviewing current accessibility for its positives and when looking at how to improve it. If you are a service provider or employer, you may wish to consider having an Access Audit for your organisation in order to help it progress and keep in line with current legislation outlined in The Equality Act 2010.
An Access Statement is a malleable set of principles and practical guidance to follow when designing a building or area when keeping disability access in mind. These are most useful and relevant to designers, contractors, planning, building control and access officer's, building owners and managers and local access groups in order to promote the equal accessibility of the proposed building and so it may complement the mandatory Building Regulations application. They are not rigid documents to work by, but rather as a project develops and new elements of a building's design is updated and physically realised, in turn the Access Statement will be updated for the benefit of all those working on the project and fundamentally, for those who will use the building thereafter.
Access Strategies are the practical recommendations that are put in place when it comes to improving the accessibility of a building and identifying the physical barriers that could be considered for elimination or mitigation. They are categorised into priority, cost and ideal timescales to be completed by. Once receiving an Access Strategy, it should be reviewed periodically to examine the progress that is being made and to see if it may need to be updated or altered as buildings and the way in which they are used changes over the course of time. An Access Strategy is a long-term project of improving access but progress should be evident through regular short-term goals being achieved to show a gradual improvement where reasonable or where there is duty or responsibility to abide by.
All recommendations are provided on the basis of what is written in The Equality Act 2010, Approved Document M, Approved Document K, UK Building Regulations, Part M, Part K, Part B, Approved Document B and British Standard BS8300.
For more information regarding our access auditing and consultation services, please submit a form on the CONTACT Page.