As schools start to return back to normal, ensuring that they are accessible for all has never been more important.
At Equality Act Audits we understand the incredible pressure schools are facing in order to deliver a safe environment for staff, pupils and parents. However, accessibility should not be forgotten and is arguably even more important than ever to ensure a safe, and fully inclusive, environment.
Many schools approach us asking whether they need to have an access audit and we encourage them to ask themselves the following questions:
have you had a recent access audit on your school building (within the last 3 years)?
can disabled staff, pupils and visitors park near your main entrance?
can disabled staff, pupils and visitors easily get into (and around) all parts of the school building?
do fire and safety procedures include provision for disabled staff, pupils and visitors?
do disabled staff, pupils and visitors have access to all things that go on within the school?
Above are just a few questions which are worth considering when thinking about accessibility planning in a school. There is still a widespread belief that access to schools is about wheelchair users and so is dependent on lifts and ramps yet only 4% of the 8.7 million disabled people in the UK use wheelchairs. People also think that improvements to accessibility can only be made at great expense, but many can be made for little or no cost.
The most effective way to begin looking at physical access considerations is to undergo a physical access audit, usually undertaken by a disability access auditor.
Equality Act Audits cover the whole of the UK and can visit your school and undertake an access audit. We will then write your Accessibility Plan, ensuring it covers all legal requirements.
By law you must have: An Accessibility Plan which includes how you are going to improve access to your building, to your curriculum for children with SEN and to information available for pupils and visitors.