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The Section of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requiring many building users to address access issues on their premises, came into force on 1 October 2004.
This Act gives additional significance to the British Standard BS 8300:2001, Access Statements and associated regulations.
The DDA in conjunction with the building regulations and other documentation is founded on the principle of reasonableness. The size of premises and the resources available to their users can therefore be taken into account if particular premises are alleged to be deficient. "Inclusive designs" are generally encouraged and these should increase the numbers of customers and potential workers attracted to a firm or non-profit organisation.
The Part 3 requirements of the DDA impact two communities in particular. These are service providers and employers.
Where an application submitted under the Building Regulations within the last 10 years, to which Part M was applicable, received approval, additional works to the affected part of the premises are not obligatory until the expiry of that ten-year transitional period.
The current building regulations naturally cover more issues than the previous editions of those regulations. Service providers should now be implementing works in order to meet the new DDA requirements. If it is alleged in the future that the premises contain unreasonable barriers to access or internal movement, a phased and costed programme of works yet to be undertaken might well be taken into account by anyone considering the complaint.
Since 1 October 2004, any disabled worker has been entitled to ask their employer to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of a building to make that building, approaches, layout and fittings reasonably accessible to meet the DDA. The building must then be altered to meet the requirements, regardless of when any previous application had received approval under the Building Regulations Part M.
The following organisations can help further:
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Centre for Accessible Environments
- The Building Control team will also be pleased to assist with any specific enquiry and provide advice on how to comply with the provisions of this Act.
The Disability Law Service is a national registered charity providing free legal and confidential advice and a casework service for disabled adults, their families and carers.
Their mission is to challenge the inequality and poverty of disabled people by securing for them free and equal access to their legal rights and entitlements and they specialise and only give advice in these five areas of law:
- Consumer contract/disability discrimination
- Community care
- Welfare benefits
- Building Control Full details for Building Control