Everyone should be able to fully participate within society, and built environment accessibility plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. An access audit is one of the first of many steps that can help to improve accessibility of the built environment.
The National Disability Strategy (2004), which includes a number of sectoral plans, is a key measure taken by the Government to ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in Irish society. The outline sectoral plan from the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government highlights that each Local Authority will, within six months of the approval of the plan by the Oireachtas, carry out an access audit of all public buildings, public parks, amenities and open spaces, roads and streets, pavements and pedestrian crossings, heritage sites, public libraries, polling stations and harbors within its control and identify what remedial action is necessary to make these buildings, etc. accessible for people with disabilities.
Furthermore, under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness Agreement, the Government made a commitment that all public services would be made more accessible. The Excellence through Accessibility Award is a joint initiative between the National Disability Authority and the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. To receive the award organisations will be required to regularly review and if necessary develop and improve the accessibility of their built environment. For a Government Department or Agency to apply for the award, they must ensure that management has reviewed the current accessibility of their building(s) by way of an access audit.
These guidelines have been designed to provide best practice advice on how to carry out an access audit. The guidelines will be of interest to all those involved in access auditing including building surveyors, architects, building designers, facility managers, occupational therapists, building control officers, local access groups and all those who deal with the construction and use of buildings.
National Disability Authority