To answer simply … all schools must have an Accessibility Plan. In order to have an Accessibility Plan, you must first have an Access Audit.
The Equality Act of 2010 replaced the DDA Act of 1995. The Equality Act Code of Practice states that every building which is used by the general public and offers a service must have an access audit every 3 years and this will ‘help service providers to meet their obligations under the Act’.
The purpose of an Access Audit is to help you understand your obligations under the Equality Act. It will point out to you if your access is complying with the Equality Act for any disabled visitors to your premises. Your Access Audit will point out to you ways you can remove any barriers and which options are available to you. It will also recommend which would be the best ‘reasonable adjustment’ for you to make and give you a priority list of which actions should be taken and their cost implications.
Schools are not exempt from this legislation and so if your school does not have an Accessibility Plan in place, you are breaking the law. This will be made obvious in your next Ofsted inspection – they will ask to see it!
The Equality Act is all about ‘being reasonable ‘and by having an access audit and ensuring you repeat it every 3 years, you will not only be demonstrating that you care but you will also be improving the access for any disabled visitors to your premises.
The Equality Act code of practice further states that your audit must be completed by a ‘suitably qualified person’. EA Audits specialise in access for schools and have helped over 1000 schools with their Accessibility Plans. If you would like more information, please contact us!