Ian Streets, of About Access Ltd outlines why designing with access in mind is vital within the construction process…
When it comes to priority parking spaces the signs are easy to see, and the cost implications are clear. But the financial impact of failing to meet the needs of disabled people in terms of design are less obvious, and that’s where About Access comes in.
We conduct appraisals to ensure that inclusive design is achieved throughout the construction process. We study accessibility provision from the earliest stage, looking at the plans and giving our advice at a point where corrections and improvements can be easily accommodated.
We work on the principle that for every £1 you might spend remedying a problem at the concept and preparation phase you can expect to spend £10 if the problem is not resolved by the time you get to scoping a project, and £100 at the planning and pre-construction stage.
Add another zero if the problem lingers to the point of application and construction, and be prepared for that initial £1 to climb to £10,000 if the failure to act early leaves you making alterations once the property is occupied and in use.
Be aware also that the cost of remedial work is only part of the story. An additional factor when designing to accommodate disabled people is the cost of any discrimination claims which may result.
And then consider the possible loss of business. You could lose revenue as a result of adverse publicity from a court case or, increasingly in the modern age, disabled people – and, significantly, their companions – using social media to recommend businesses which offer accessible shopping, dining and accommodation, and to warn people away from those that don’t.
The Department for Work and Pensions refers to the “purple pound” to indicate the spending power of a disabled person and their party. Using the Family Resources Survey of 2012–13, it calculates that the 12.2-million households in the UK which include a disabled person have a combined income – after housing costs – of £212-billion.
Your project might have a lead architect, construction design and management consultant, a fire engineer, a mechanical and electrical expert, a landscape architect. They are all specialists and they should be supported by an access consultant who will ensure you get things right first time, avoiding the delays and cost that result from having to revise the work of one specialist and then make sure it fits with the plans of all the others. The savings in time and money are such that typically the investment will pay for itself.
About Access Ltd
Please note: this is a commercial profile