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  1. What is the DDA?
  2. What is meant by 'reasonable adjustment'
  3. Where do I start?
  4. What is covered in an access audit?
  5. What is an access appraisal?
  6. What is an access statement
  7. What if I do nothing to make my goods or services accessible to disabled people?
  8. My business is in leased premises - do I need to do anything?
  9. My business doesn't have premises (or they are not open to the public) - do I need to do anything?
  10. The building is listed - do I need to do anything?
  11. What is inclusive Design
  12. What is the RRO?

1. What is the DDA?

The DDA is the Disability Discrimination Act, or Acts, as legislation was passed in 1995 and then extended in 2005.

The legislation has been replaced by the Equality Act 2010 after October 2010.

An outline of the provisions and duties of the Act is given in the 'legislation' section.

The DDA was civil legislation, giving disabled people the right not to be discriminated against in accessing goods, services, education, transport, and in employment.

Since December 2006, Public Authorities were required to produce 'Disability Equality Schemes', recording how they are ensured that disabled people have access to their services.

A business or service provider was expected to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure that there was no discrimination against disabled customers or employees.

Anyone feeling that they had been treated unfairly may bring legal action after notifying the service provider of the access barrier encountered.

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2. What is meant by 'reasonable adjustment'

A reasonable adjustment is a change needed in order to enable people with a disability to access your services. What may be required will take into account-

  • Type of business
  • Size of business and annual turnover
  • Cost of the adjustment
  • Disruption to the business whilst any work is being carried out
  • The practicality of carrying out the adjustment
  • Potential benefits to disabled customers and employees
  • Whether a service be delivered equally well by alternative means, such as home delivery

Case law under the DDA regarding 'Reasonable adjustment' is limited, though a number of cases were brought in the areas of transport, access to services and in employment.

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3. Where do I start?

An access audit is a good first step to gauge how accessible your business is. The audit identifies all areas where access can be a problem for people with a mobility, sensory or learning disability, and recommends steps to remove, alter or avoid an access barrier.

Some changes won't cost very much - or perhaps be included in routine maintenance or major refurbishment.

In any case, identifying the access issues will enable you to plan how to address them in your business operations.

Doing nothing isn't an option - you have legal duties to disabled people.

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4. What is covered in an access audit?

An audit will follow the route or routes to your building, and review facilities in and around your premises for use by disabled people, both customers and staff.

Premises management, and the information provided by you to customers can be included in the audit.

It is a management responsibility to ensure safe egress from buildings by all users, and the audit will review egress routes and procedures.

The report includes digital photos, with a description of the access issue and makes recommendations for removing the problem.

The recommendations are prioritised and budget costed, so that an access improvement plan can be prepared for a building or group of buildings, to focus budgets where needed most.

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5. What is an access appraisal?

An access appraisal considers the accessibility of new development from drawings - plans, elevations and sections of the building.

We advise on Inclusive Design needs - In addition to reviewing the proposals against the Building Regulations Approved Documents Part M and Part B, and other best practice guidance from a wide range of sources, such as British Standards.

Working with you from an early stage, potential problem areas are avoided, and unnecessary cost and delay eliminated.

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6. What is an access statement?

An access statement identifies how the access issues associated with a development have been dealt with in the design, and the constraints that have had a bearing on the design.

It should show that inclusive design has been rigorously addressed, especially if it is not possible to remove all access barriers, for example, in a refurbishment, or work to listed buildings.

An access statement will vary with the size, nature and complexity of the development, and is best used and developed through the four stages of a development:-

  • At planning stage
  • At building control stage
  • During the construction stage
  • On completion and occupation

If access is thought through at feasibility stage, the design can spontaneously address the needs, avoiding a later 'add on' which detracts from the overall aesthetics of the building.

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7. What if I do nothing to make my goods or services accessible to disabled people?

You will not be selling to the widest possible customer base.

It is possible that you will receive adverse publicity locally, or have legal action taken against you.

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8. My business is in leased premises - do I need to do anything?

You will require your Landlords permission to carry out some works, but this should not be unreasonably withheld.

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9. My business doesn't have premises (or they are not open to the public) - do I need to do anything?

You should check that:-

  • Your website is accessible [see PAS 78 on our links page]
  • Information sent out by your business is available in different formats, such as large print or Braille
  • Staff are ready to assist customers who may need help in accessing information, and have been trained in disability awareness / disability equality
  • People can contact your business in a number of different ways, e.g. by phone, text phone, e-mail, post and fax.

Remember your DDA duties extend to staff that may be or become disabled.

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10. The building is listed - does this mean I need not do anything?

Recommendations made in an access audit or access appraisal take account of the historical importance of a listed building, and are sympathetic to the fabric of the building.

Listed building consent is required before carrying out work, If this is not granted, it won't be possible to carry out all desirable alterations, but it is likely that many other access issues can be resolved to maximise access and use of the building.

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11. What is an inclusive environment?

An inclusive environment is easily used by as many people as possible without undue effort, special treatment or separation, and will also offer people the freedom to choose how they access and use it, and allow them to participate equally in all activities it may host.
(Disability Rights Commission, 2004)

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12. What is the RRO ?

The Regulatory Reform [Fire Safety] Order 2005 came into force on 1st October 2006, and is a comprehensive change to fire safety legislation - the biggest for 35 years.

The RRO places a management responsibility to ensure the fire safety - and safe evacuation - of all users of premises, and requires a Risk assessment to be carried out for most non- domestic premises, and the common parts of blocks of flats.

Procedures should ensure the safe evacuation of disabled people, with assistance where required.

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January 2011

New public sector equality duty guidance

The new public sector equality duty for public authorities comes into force on 6th April 2011, replacing the duties under DDA.

The EHCR has published guides to provide an overview of the duties imposed by the Equality Act 2010; copies are available at


The guides detail what public authorities should do to meet the duty, and includes information on the general equality duty, the specific duties and who they apply to. 

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Future Inclusive - Access Consultants, Building Surveyors

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