Do I need a DDA Access Audit?
An Access Audit (also known as a DDA audit, Disability Discrimination Act Audit, or Disabled Access Audit) is an assessment of a building or facility, an environment, or a service compared to best practice standards to benchmark its accessibility to disabled people. The key element to refer to is Northern Ireland’s Technical Booklet R.
The audit will consider what is reasonable for your building or services. Factors will include the size of your organisation, the age of your building, and location. Our reports set out clear recommendations in the form of an action plan with priority ratings to enable you to plan for the next three to four years.
Access Audits help you to understand your obligations, it identifies barriers to disabled access and a range of options to address these barriers. Implementing its recommendations will enable you to demonstrate that you have adopted a reasonable approach and you will be improving access for disabled people and many other users.
What are the standards?
Technical Booklet R is published by the Department of Finance and Personnel, it provides guidance to Northern Ireland’s Building Regulations 2012. An audit should also have reference to other publications where relevant, British Standards BS 8300:2018 and any sector-specific guidance issued such as for railways or healthcare provision.
As innovation and new ideas emerge, not everything is covered within standards that would be useful to consider for your site. A good Access Consultant will therefore be able to select relevant new ideas and concepts that improve accessibility and inclusion.
What is the DDA?
In Northern Ireland the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 sets out how disabled people have rights in employment, access to goods and services, the management of property, and education. The DDA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
Organisations that provide products, facilities, or services to the public, cannot discriminate against a disabled person. This is defined as:
· Disabled people being treated less favourably than others and the treatment is for a reason relating to the person’s disability, and this treatment cannot be justified;
· There is a failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.
So what does an audit cover?
Our audits look at all aspects of a disabled person’s journey to your site and through the site. From getting there to the entrance, reception, restroom facilities, communal and office spaces, and any other area that may be accessed. Audits also consider wayfinding, emergency egress, lifts, and stairs.
Our DDA Access Auditing team
The Direct Access team all have lived experience of disability combined with NRAC Registered or International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) certificated Access Consultants status. We work across Northern Ireland with a wide variety of clients including Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust, CeX, several architectural firms in Belfast, and others.
We also work closely with schools where the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order applies.
Are you looking to make your site accessible to thousands of disabled people? Feel free to contact us and lay out your specific needs so that we can find improvements to suit your needs or budget. Or alternatively, have a look at our Access Consultancy options. We are here to help because, for us, access is personal.