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Does having a Disability Access Certificate for a building make it accessible?

As you are aware the Building Control Regulations 2009 introduced the requirement for a Disability Access Certificates for all new buildings (that require a Fire Certificate) where work commences on or after the 1st of January 2010.

O’Herlihy Access Consultancy has being getting a number of queries on whether these Disability Access Certificates will in fact ensure that buildings are accessible. The 2009 Regulations state that a Disability Access Certificate is only required to show compliance with the second schedule of Part M of the Building Regulations.  To comply with this regulations many people use the accompanying Technical Guidance Document (TGD) M.

TGD M dates back to 2000 and only makes particular reference to physical disabilities and doesn’t address the needs of all users. Even for people with physical disabilities, the current TGD M doesn’t meet their needs. For example,  if we design an accessible WC to the size recommended in the current TGD M (Diagram 13) and open the door in as shown, many powered wheelchair users will have difficulty closing the door, never mind transferring to the WC.

Until the new Building Regulation Part M comes into force in July 2010, it is important to remember that proposed buildings with Disability Access Certificates which are designed in accordance with current regulations may not be fully accessible to all.