Last edited 28 Feb 2024

Access audit

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An access audit is a form of inspection that can be used to assess the ease of access to, and ease of use of; an environment (such as a building or landscape), a service, or a facility, by people with a range of access impairments.

This can help:

Access audits became more common following the introduction of Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in 2004, subsequently replaced by the Equality Act in 2010. This makes it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their disabilities and requires that "reasonable adjustments" are made when providing access to goods, facilities, services and premises.

The Equality Act provides protection against direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation for:

The Act provides protection:

Access audits are seen as the a first step in ensuring reasonable adjustments are made to policies, practices, procedures or premises which may create a barrier to people with disabilities. This may involve consideration of staff, occupants, users, volunteers, visitors and so on.

Carrying out an access audit is a complex, specialist function that may benefit from the appointment of an experienced consultant such as a specialist architect or an access consultant. It can be formal or informal process, and can involve, information gathering, surveys, consultations, reports and recommendations.

In commissioning an access audit, it is important to be clear what is to be assessed, what standards it is being assessed against, for what purpose, the timescale and the required outcome.

An access audit might include consideration of:

Carrying out an access audit is not an end in itself, but the first stage in a process, that only has an impact if the outcomes are acted upon. It may be part of ongoing review process that involves regular access audits and an evolving access strategy.

NB PAS 6463:2022, Design for the mind – Neurodiversity and the built environment – Guide, published by BSI Standards Limited 2022, defines an access audit as an: ‘assessment of accessibility on an existing building, to provide a status report and identify adjustments to improve access.’

See also: Inclusive design audit.

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