Reviewing BS8300 and its importance for accessibility

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About Access sheds light on amendments to BS8300 and explains why the review is the ideal opportunity to set the highest standards for accessibility

The leading authority on setting standards to protect British consumers is inviting the public to have their say on a key sector, and the opportunity should not be passed up lightly.

BSI Group is reviewing BS8300, which gives recommendations for the design of the external built environment and is therefore of fundamental importance regarding improving accessibility.

Its provisions are purely for guidance, and there are no penalties for failure to adopt them. But in the event of a claim for discrimination, a business which can demonstrate adherence to the standards set by BS8300 will be on more solid ground than one which cannot.

The new version of BS8300 is likely to take effect late this year or early in 2018, and the draft is open for public consultation until 13 August on the website at https://drafts.bsigroup.com.

Reviewing accessibility

The document is the work of a committee of experts in accessibility and industry. The consultation process has a wider remit and is aimed at anyone who has an interest – the owners and operators of buildings, disability groups, industry, other access professionals, users and their families, anyone who is interested in the built environment and accessibility.

Given that a review only takes place around every five years and the last was in 2009, you face a long wait if you miss this opportunity.

The review system reflects the fact that the world is constantly changing. There are new ideas on how things should be done, new technologies and new methods of construction and finally research that has taken place since the last review. All of this can help us when it comes to making the built environment more accessible.

That is important in a number of ways. Putting disability to one side improved accessibility matters because it helps our ageing population. People should plan ahead and recognise that something which is not relevant now may become relevant during the lifetime of this version of BS8300.

The current consultation is split into two parts, both of which are featured on the BSI Group website. At About Access, we are contributing to the section on the external built environment, which includes the approaches to buildings. We have made recommendations, and we will be watching with interest to see the views of others about this section and about the second part, which covers the buildings themselves.

But our priority at the moment is to make more people aware that the clock is ticking on the consultation period. There will be publicity around the new version, with seminars taking place around the country to highlight the changes and make people aware.

But the chance to influence those changes is now. BS8300 influences a great deal of design work. It should be referenced in any design specification. It is for refurbishments as well as new-build, and it should be shaped by people taking a broad view of a building and its surrounds. When it comes to auditing buildings for accessibility, it is one of the benchmarks that are used.

Remember, when looking at accessibility you should not just consider the needs of wheelchair users. There are people with other impairments – people who are partially sighted and blind, who have hearing impairments, cognitive impairments or poor manual dexterity. Things which we class as hidden impairments, and which demand a certain type of foresight from the earliest stage of the design process.

A review of BS8300 is just about as early as it gets.

 

Ian Streets

About Access Limited

Tel: 01482 651101

info@aboutaccess.co.uk

www.aboutaccess.co.uk

Please note: this is a commercial profile

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