School Access Audits and Accessibility Plans explained

It is now well known that all schools must comply with the Equality Act 2010, ensuring that they are accessible to all individuals. Schools must not discriminate against pupils with special educational needs due to their disability and should promote equality.

Every school must have an ‘Accessibility Plan’ – this is a statutory document required by the Department of Education and must be available not only as a hard copy for those who request it, but also made available on the school’s website.

A school’s Accessibility Plan is a detailed document which shows how the school plans to improve accessibility for those with special educational needs. The plan must cover three parts – ‘Access to the Building’, Access to the Curriculum’ and ‘Access to the Written Word’.

Whereas ‘Access to the Building’ may seem quite straightforward, what exactly do we mean by ‘Access to the Curriculum’ and ‘Access to the Written Word’? With regards to the curriculum, we are referring to ensuring that pupils with disabilities have the same access to the curriculum as those without. Small things such as classroom organisation, changes to the timetable and seating arrangements can make a big difference, and by showing this has been considered is a big step towards ensuring a school is accessible to all.

Similarly, ‘Access to the Written Word’ ensures that information that is usually provided in writing (such as timetables, text books and the school’s website) is accessible to all – this may mean adding a contrast option the website, audio options or Braille.

A great deal of teachers commonly think an Access Audit refers only to the physical building, when in fact that is only 1/3 of the Access Audits and subsequently the Accessibility Plan. All three aspects are of equal value.

If you are still unsure about your responsibility under the Equality Act 2010, please get in touch with EA Audits, we would be more than happy to discuss this further.