Disability Discrimination Act – Access To Goods And Services

Making Access to Goods and Services Easier for Disabled Customers: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses and Other Service Providers

Where to get further help and technical advice

The sources of advice and organisations listed below have been selected on the basis of their usefulness as a source of information or advice, but inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by either the DRC or the Equality Commission Northern Ireland

England, Scotland and Wales

Access officers

Many local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland now have access officers, usually based in the planning or building control departments, who can visit your premises and advise on any action that you might take to improve access. Contact them by telephoning your local authority.

Local access groups

There are access groups in many local authority areas in England, Wales and Scotland. These groups represent the access interests of disabled people, and may also be a useful source of advice and information. To find out if there is a local access group in your area, contact RADAR (see Organisations).

Access audits

An access audit establishes how well a particular building performs in terms of access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users, including people with mobility and sensory impairments and people with learning disabilities. As the starting point of an ongoing access plan, it can be used to highlight areas for improvement.

An access audit can be divided into two main stages: gathering information and making recommendations. Ideally, both activities should be carried out by the same person or team, who will bring their technical knowledge to the auditing process. For details of accredited access auditors, contact the National Register of Access Consultants (see Organisations).

Alternatively, you might want to carry out the first stage yourself, but you would then need to bring in a professional with a technical understanding of buildings to suggest any structural alterations. Access Audits: a guide and checklists for appraising the accessibility of public buildings (see Publications) explains how to carry out the first stage.

Technical advice / design guidance

If you are thinking of making significant structural alterations to your premises to improve access for your disabled customers, you will need professional advice. Architects and surveyors should be able to obtain technical design guidance and standards and be aware of any regulatory requirements covering things like widths of doorways, gradients of ramps and layouts of toilets. It might also be useful if you are familiar with some of this design guidance as well, so that you can be sure that you are asking the right questions of the architect, surveyor or builder.

Designing for Accessibility: an essential guide for public buildings (see Publications) is a useful source of technical design guidance covering both mobility and sensory impairments. Although written mainly for designing new buildings, much of the guidance can also be applied to adapting existing premises. Details of other, more specific, technical guidance can be found under Publications. Some of these publications may be available to consult in your local library.

Building Regulations

If your building was constructed in line with the Building Regulations (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Technical Standards (Scotland), then a very limited range of features may not have to be considered for alteration. An architect, surveyor or lawyer can advise you on this.

Disability awareness

Various organisations offer disability awareness training for businesses. If you employ quite a few staff, it might be worth considering in-house training as part of your response to the DDA. If you are a sole trader or employ a handful of staff, it might be worth getting together with other local businesses – perhaps through your local chamber of commerce – to organise joint training. The Employers’ Forum on Disability (see Organisations) can supply a list of disability awareness trainers.

Trade associations and professional bodies

Your trade association or professional body may be able to offer advice which is specific to the sector you are operating in.

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