Guidelines for Access Auditing of the Built Environment - What is an Access Audit

4. What is an access audit?

To many an access audit is a checklist of guidelines that need to be adhered to. The fact is that an access audit of the built environment is much more than that. Audits of the built environment need to consider the day to day running of the building, the building type, management issues, maintenance and safety as well as the checklist of building design criteria. An access audit should also encompass egress and needs to consider access and safety in emergency situations (safety zones, routes, signage emergency equipment etc.) There are a number of definitions available for access audits. These include:

  • An access audit rates an existing building against given criteria for usability and accessibility. It involves not only the issue of ready movement to and around the building but also the use by people with sensory or intellectual impairments of the services, which the building provides (NDA, 2002).
  • The purpose of an access audit is to establish how well a particular building or environment performs in terms of access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users, including people with disabilities, and to recommend access improvements (Bright and Sawyer, 2004).
  • The access audit of a building and its setting is the starting point for a planned programme of access improvements. Access auditing involves an inspection of a building or environment to appraise its accessibility - judged against predetermined criteria. ( ) or Access audits give a snapshot of an existing building at a point in time. They are a useful starting point in assessing the current state of accessibility and usability of existing buildings (Centre for Accessible Environments, 2004)
  • An access audit will establish how well your premises perform in terms of access and ease of use by your customers and employees ( An access audit includes the inspection and assessment of a building/environment against agreed criteria. The audit will look at how you deliver your services and their impact on access and ease of use. The audit outcome should include a report that indicates where improvements may be made (
  • A survey of a part of the built environment to identify the barriers that prevent disabled people having full access, and the recommended solutions for adaptation (

Contents of Document

1. Introduction

2. Who are these guidelines for?

3. What will these guidelines cover?

5. Types of Access Audits

6. What to do before an Audit

7. Steps to carry out an Audit

8. Structure of an Access Audit Report

9. Conclusion

10. Further Information/Additional Resources

11. References

Appendix 1: Questions Prior to Audit

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Page last updated: 12/08/2010