What is a Disability Access Consultant

Disability Access Consultant is a specialist consultant who is trained to identify potential accessibility issues and advise you of your legal obligations. They’ll assess your current situation, give you practical advice and show you the steps you need to take to overcome disability access issues in your workplace.

If you’re a manager or owner of a business or facility, you need to be sure that your workplace is accessible to all, including those with mobility limitations or a disability. But where do you start?

Disability Access Consultants

How can a Disability Access Consultant help?

They will start with a thorough review of your existing building, which can include an access audit and access appraisal to identify areas that need to be addressed. Plus, they can also review new building plans to make sure they comply with disability access regulations.

A Disability Access Consultant will assist with everything from planning and design, through to implementation. This includes consultation throughout the design process, including any required documentation and permits. Designers can also access a comprehensive online resource of products that will help to improve access to all types of buildings within Australia.

With the recommendations and advice of a specialist consultant you’ll have the support and assistance you need to identify and implement any necessary changes.

Reporting and Assessment

Disability Access Consultants will also help you set up systems that ensure your continued compliance. This can be achieved through the preparation of Disability Action Plans and Due Diligence Reports. They can also design and prepare Mobility Maps for any type of facility, including commercial, public and educational buildings.

What to Look for in a Consultant

There’s an increasing number of professionals operating in the building industry who offer access consulting services as an add-on to their existing business. This can sometimes mean they lack the expertise and intimate knowledge of access issues, as it’s not the main focus of their business.

Accredited Disability Access Consultants

When you choose a consultant from a specialised access consultancy business, you know you’re dealing with someone who is immersed in access challenges on a daily basis. You can be confident they have an in-depth knowledge of potential problems and their solutions, and any laws that apply and must be addressed.

Disability Access Consultants usually have a background and a qualification in a related industry such as architecture, building surveying, project management, risk management or occupational therapy. They may also be registered building practitioners and be qualified in performance-based building and fire codes.

Although there is currently no legislation that requires access consultants to be licenced in Australia, you can choose a consultant that is accredited with the Associations of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA). The ACAA is the peak national body for access consultancy in Australia and, among other things, they administer national competency standards and contribute to the ongoing professional development of its members. This gives you an assurance that Disability Access Consultants that have passed the ACAA’s stringent requirements have the necessary skills and expertise to provide you with the absolute best solution.

Essential Questions to Ask Disability Access Consultants

Before you engage an access consultant, ask these questions to make sure they’re a good fit:

  • Have you worked on similar projects before?
  • Which consultant will be working on my project and are they accredited with the ACAA?
  • Do you have a minimum $10M professional indemnity insurance cover?
  • Do you have a minimum $20M public liability insurance cover?
  • Can you distinguish between the minimum statutory requirements and the best practice concepts to reduce risk under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)?
  • Do you use recognised and calibrated auditing tools?
  • Will you audit everything identified in the statutory legislation?
  • Does your service include the delivery of reports in a suitable format to meet my needs, and if not can it be customised?
  • Can the data collected during the audit and inspection stage be imported into my own facility management software applications?
  • Do you operate under a “Quality Management System” to work safely as required under health and safety procedures?
  • Have you a current “Working with Children Check” and “Police Check”?

Once you’ve answered these questions you will have a good understanding of the Disability Access Consultant’s knowledge, experience and suitability for your project.

Equal Access for All

When you work with a suitably experienced Disability Access Consultant you can be sure that the building you manage – whether it be a commercial workplace, public space, healthcare facility or school – will be compliant with any regulations. And, importantly, it will be accessible to all.

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