For advice on building compliance under the Equality Act (formerly the DDA) to accommodate physically disabled people and those with sensory impairment, learning difficulties and other disabilities.
Ian Minter Architects carries out access audits under the Equality Act, which replaced the more commonly known Disability Discrimination Act (‘the DDA’) in 2010.
The Equality Act also replaced several other anti-discrimination Acts, in a single all-encompassing Statute. In broad terms, employers, and organisations whose premises are used by or accessible to the public, are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to ensure the premises are accessible to disabled people – or where their premises are being constructed as new, they need to be built to provide in full the level of accessibility the Act requires.
A common misconception is that the legislation relates primarily to access for physically disabled people, but the Act requires that people with sensory impairment, such as those affecting hearing or sight, people with learning difficulties, people with mental health illness, and a range of other conditions are equally to be considered.
We firmly believe that in the case of an existing building architects who are used to prioritising the competing demands on project budgets and aware of the wider constraints on a client’s resources, are usually better placed than a dedicated access practitioner to judge what it is reasonable to expect the client to undertake – whereas the dedicated practitioner is more likely to press for the fullest possible level of compliance, at the expense of competing interests.
As with the fire risk assessment services we provide, in an existing building this becomes an issue of the improvements it is reasonable to expect the owner or occupier to make, taking into account factors such as the age and design of the existing building, the ability of the owner or occupier to finance the necessary improvements, and other relevant considerations.
Our objective is always to find the solution that satisfies the requirements of the Act but recognises the practical, financial, and other limits on what can be achieved.