Improvements to physical access

For best practice in access issues, think beyond DDA compliance. Any improvements to physical access will benefit all of your visitors, staff and artists, and will help you to attract a much wider audience.

You may already be aware of some changes that need to be made, but it is a good idea to carry out a simple access audit first. Audit templates for access to buildings can be purchased from organisations such as the Centre for Accessible Environment. Always involve disabled people when carrying out an access audit.

Access to public spaces is important, but you should pay as much attention to the accessibility of backstage, rehearsal space, workshops, offices and meeting rooms.

Probably no venue will be perfectly accessible for everyone. Giving honest, detailed information about access will enable people to make their own decisions about visiting or working there.

Action Points

Planning Stage

  • Research location, measurements, materials, costs
  • Consult with disability organisations, voluntary groups and disabled patrons
  • Refer to publications with examples of best practice
  • Visit venues with good standards of physical access (ask disabled people what they recommend)
  • Identify sources of funding
  • Raise money


  • Inform patrons of planned improvements
  • Identify organisations & groups of disabled people who might be interested in improved access
  • Check accessibility of new publicity for target groups

Work completed

  • Produce publicity outlining new facilities in appropriate formats and design
  • Inform regular patrons and new contacts
  • Consider reduced price event / free event to launch facilities

Further reading

Designing for Accessibility * Andrew Lacey 2004 (ISBN 1-85946-143-3)

Access Audit Handbook * Alison Grant 2005 (ISBN 1-85946-177-8)

Museums and Art Galleries: Making Existing Buildings Accessible * Adrian Cave 2007 (ISBN 978-1-85946-75-4)

* available from the Centre for Accessible Environments

Building Sight: A handbook of building and interior design solutions to meet the needs of visually impaired people. Peter Barker, John Barrick & Rod Wilson 1995. Available from RNIB shop

Centre For the Built Environment

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