The purpose of an Accessibility Audit is to establish how well a particular environment performs in terms of access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users, including people with disabilities and the visually impaired, and also to recommend improvements, where necessary.
Organisations have a legal duty not to discriminate against anyone who is covered by the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010. However, what sometimes gets missed is the built environment and how it is managed. It can be difficult for organisations to know what is good practice in the provision of facilities for workers, visitors or other users – or, indeed, whether they have met their obligations to make reasonable adjustments. The Diversity Trust offers accessibility and inclusion auditing which can be useful and cost effective for organisations in new buildings and helpful (to avoid incurring further costs) for those in older buildings by offering recommendations for works that meet Government guidance and Building Regulations. Recommendations can also be made based on building plans before mistakes are made. One of our Directors, Lou Hart, advises and supports small to large scale organisations with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion audits.
Audit recommendations cover the protected characteristics – for example:
- changing the facilities within multi-faith rooms;
- having gender neutral bathrooms;
- separating food to prevent cross contamination; and
- creating spaces, which are suitable and safe for visually impaired people
- the adequacy of escape routes for all
Accessibility auditing and consultancy also examines the management side of facilitating accessibility. This may include advice on equalities policies or surveys and inclusion relating to the built environment. Lou also sits on the Steering Committee of the current British Standards project to develop a new Publicly Available Specification for the Management of Diversity and Inclusion. Lastly, Lou has been called upon to help with the creation of Access Statements which describe an Organisation’s intentions re Diversity and Inclusion.