We work with organisations throughout the UK to assist them in creating environments and services that are inclusive and welcoming to all, in meeting their duties under the Equality Act (2010) and thereby improving their business potential. The services we offer include:
- Access Audits
- Inclusive Design Appraisals
- Access support for Heritage Lottery Funding
- Access Statements
- Stakeholder involvement and engagement
- Advice on meeting statutory duties
- Advice on home adaptations or moving home
An Access Audit is a detailed appraisal of the accessibility and user-friendliness of an environment – whether a building or an open space. It identifies barriers to access and provides recommendations on how these can be resolved. Accessibility is evaluated with reference to current legislation, regulations and standards and best practice guidance. Whilst the scope of Access Audits varies according to the site and the needs of the client, an Access Audit generally examines the whole experience of visiting an environment from pre-visit information to arrival, getting around, using the facilities, engaging with the surroundings and (in the case of a building) means of escape in the event of a fire.
When changes are being made to an environment, an Access Audit can be a very useful and cost-effective planning tool and point of reference, as it provides a detailed analysis of access improvements that can be fully integrated into a project from the outset. Each audit is carefully tailored to the unique context and requirements of the client. Rather than simply ‘ticking a box’, our thorough audit recommendations include comprehensive advice, a list of priorities, cost bandings and references to good practice guidance. This enables our clients to avoid time-consuming research and to implement the recommendations as effectively as possible. As part of our service we can also provide ongoing support to clients as they implement solutions and as circumstances change.
Inclusive Design Appraisals
At Access Matters UK we have worked with many architects and design teams to create environments that are welcoming and inclusive. For clients considering new build or a major refurbishment, our design appraisals are invaluable, as they ensure that the principles of inclusive design are embedded within the project from the outset and sustained through the RIBA stages to completion. Often, user groups are actively involved in this process. We supply a range of design appraisals to suit the requirements of the project and can provide access statements and strategies to support project proposals as required.
Access support for Heritage Lottery Funding
We provide access consultancy support for HLF and other projects. Successful funding projects we have worked on include:
- Dreamland Amusement Park, Margate
- Bromley Museum
- National Trust Greenway
- Hardy’s Birthplace (National Trust and Dorset County Council)
- Shire Hall, Dorchester
- National Trust Tyntesfield
- Vindolanda Roman Fort
The access consultancy input varies according to the project but may comprise an initial access audit of a site, detailed inclusive design appraisal of plans, consultation with user groups or advice on inclusive interpretation and activities.
Access Statements and Strategies
We produce high quality Access Statements and Strategies for building projects, covering each of the various stages from the design and construction to occupancy. However big or small the project, we work closely with you and with your stakeholders to develop an environment that is welcoming and fully accessible. We can also provide Access Statements or Access Guides for your building, countryside park, festival, event or holiday cottage to give potential customers and service users detailed and clear pre-visit information on the accessibility of your venue or event and the service you provide. As well as assisting them in planning their visit, this helps you by ensuring that people are well informed about accessibility before they make the decision to visit.
Stakeholder involvement and engagement
Involving local communities in your project from initial conception through to completion and beyond is widely recognised as essential to its future success. We have extensive experience of working with groups, involving them in projects and ensuring that their input is integrated into the overall scheme, is evaluated and, where practicable, is self sustaining beyond the completion of the work we do as access consultants. We can facilitate anything from a one-off focus group to sustained engagement over the life of a project to on-line questionnaires, or consultation by social media or by phone. We use a variety of techniques and formats to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be involved in whatever way suits them best.
Advice on meeting statutory duties
You may occasionally need some one-off advice on meeting your duties under the Equality Act. We can help you with this and are happy to talk this through on the phone, by email or in person.
Advice on home adaptations or moving home
Jan Loveless, the Director of Access Matters UK, is also a registered Occupational Therapist specialising in assisting older and disabled people in finding ways to get in and around their home easily and carry out the activities within it that are important to them. Jan can look at one particular aspect of your home that you might be having problems with – perhaps having a bath or shower, getting in and out of bed, or finding a phone that suits you – or can carry out a full assessment of your living situation, making recommendations and giving options to choose from which will help you to be as independent as possible in your home and to maintain your standard of living. Jan can also assist you in the often difficult process of deciding whether to stay in your current home or move to somewhere that may be easier to manage, by talking through the options with you to help you work out which one might suit you best.