Disabled access

We can provide you with guidance on accessibility issues and your obligations under Part M of the Building Regulations. Guidance available includes:

  • ramped access to entrances
  • ambulant staircases
  • door, corridor and lobby requirements
  • sanitary accommodation
  • building circulation design
  • fire safety

In order to be effective, accessibility needs to be incorporated within the early stages of the building design process, so please do not hesitate to contact us on the details on the top right hand box on this page. If we cannot provide the answer, we will put you in touch with someone who can.

Disabled Discrimination Act 1985

On the 1 October 2004, the final stage of the Disability Discrimination Act came into force. This made it unlawful for employers and people who provide services, goods and facilities to the public to discriminate against people who have a disability by not making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the premises from which the goods, services or facilities are available.

It is important to recognise that not all disabilities are obvious. The Act includes any person who has a mobility, sensory impairment, learning, mental ill health disabilities, severe facial disfigurements and certain other conditions.

If a disabled person feels that they have been wrongly excluded from the provision of goods, services or facilities, or the letting or selling of land or property, they will be able to take legal action through the courts to seek damages for any financial loss they have suffered and for any injury to their feelings. Even though Approved Document to the Building Regulations has been identified as the standard against which accessibility for disabled people will be judged, we do not have an enforcement role for this legislation.

Since 2 December 1996 it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability and, since 1 October 1999, service providers have been required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide services.

Further information is available from the Disabled Rights Commission.

Please note that the requirements for Building Regulation consent still apply for any physical changes to buildings. However, subject to certain criteria, the application may be exempt from the payment of fees.

Meaning of physical features

The Disability Discrimination Act talks in terms of changes to the ‘physical features’ of buildings. These are any features arising from the design or construction of a building and any fixtures, fittings, furnishings and equipment on the premises. This could include paths, entrances, exits, entry systems, car parking, public phones, changing rooms, service counters, doors, toilets, stairs, shelves, waiting areas, signage, floor and wall coverings.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive; simply to serve as an indicator of the variety of features that can present barriers for which solutions may need to be found. Employers and owners of buildings will need to anticipate the types of problems that may arise, so that when a disabled person requests a service, reasonable steps have already been taken to overcome and access issues.

Page last updated: 02 October 2020
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