The Equality Act is concerned with equality in employment, access to goods and services, transport and education. This relates to, not only the built environment but equally, the way in which premises are provided, managed, maintained and monitored.
At access audit is a snap shot in time, identifying where barriers existing within existing buildings and environments. This enables owners, managers, employers and service providers to understand where improvements need to be made or operational policies may need to be amended. In addition, operational policies and functions can impact heavily on the environment; all relevant aspects would need to be identified, reviewed and clarified.
To provide the optimum inclusive environment, appropriate sources of best practice guidance would be identified and agreed. These documents would be used to audit the premises. An audit can take many forms including a strategic overview, detailed room by room audit or design audit appraisal where planned works are identified to inform the audit. What is imperative is that any audit should use the sequential route; who uses the building, why do they use and how do they use it?
We would not always recommend wholesale auditing. However, determining a strategy from the outset within which any physical audit is commissioned and remedial works prioritised and ultimately funded, is crucial.
For larger premises or estates JSA would develop a Premises Audit Database (PAD) this could be a document to inform maintenance operations, planned works as well as designs of future works.