Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Accessibility Audits

Que 1. What is an "Accessibility Assessment / Audit" or "Accessibiity Gap Survey" of a building?

Ans. An access audit or access evaluation or accessibility assessment of a building refers to the process of assessing and evaluating the accessibility features and barriers within an existing building or facility against national standards and is conducted by Accessibility & Universal Design Experts. The purpose of an access audit is to identify areas where individuals with disabilities or limited mobility may encounter difficulties in accessing or using the building and built environment.  Access audits are often conducted to help building owners, architects, and facility managers understand the accessibility status of their premises and take appropriate measures to remove barriers and enhance accessibility for all individuals, including those with disabilities.  Where the building is at the design state, evaluation/access audit of such a design is referred to as "design appraisal".

Que 2.  Is accessibility mandatory in buildings?

Ans. Yes, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 and Rules made thereunder, mandate accessibility in public buildings. All public buildings whether privately owned or governement owned must comply with accessibility requirements, if they are open to public and fall within the definnition of the "public buildings". See Que No. 6 below for definition of public buildings under section 2(w) of RPWD Act 2016.

Que 3. What are the Accessibility Standards for Buildings currently followed in India?

Ans. There are two main documents followed for Built Environment Accessibility in India:-

(a) National Building Code of India (NBC) 2016  - Part-3 deals with Standards for Accessibility in Buildings and Built Environment. 

(b) Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-Free Built Environment for Persons with Disability and Elderly Persons issued by Ministry of Urban Development, and notified under Rules 15 of the RPWD Rules 2017.

The local buliding byelaws or General Building Requirements of the appropriate government and local authorities (municipalities or panchayat bodies) must reflect the above standard for accessibility. In absence thereof, the NBC 2016 and the Harmonized Guidelines will apply.

Que 4. Why should an establishment get an Access Audit conducted?

Ans. "Establishment" under the RPWD Act means both - the Government as well as Private Establishments as defined in Section 2(i). The Private Establishment as defined under section 2 (v) means - a company, firm, cooperative or other society, associations, trust, agency, institution, organization, union, factory or such other establishment as the appropriate Government may, by notification, specify. 

Therefore, the establishments should undertake access audits, as it is mandated by the law.  The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD Act) 2016  mandates that all establishments should ensure that all their buildings are accessible as per standards issued under section 40. Access audit is to assess and find the base line and prepared a prioritised action plan to improve accessibility of built-environment.  The National Building Code also prescribes periodic access audit reviews to ensure accessibility thorugh out the life of the building.

Que 5. What are legal provisions about built environment accessibility?

Ans. Section 44 of RPWD Act is about Mandatory observance of accessibility norms. It stipulates that "No establishment shall be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the rules formulated by the Central Government under section 40". It further stipulates that "No establishment shall be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of a building unless it has adhered to the rules formulated by the Central Government."

Section 45 of the RPWD Act stipulates the time limit for making existing infrastructure and premises accessible and action for that purpose. It specifies that all existing public buildings shall be made accessible in accordance with standards within a period of five years from the date of notification of such rules. (The RPWD Rules were formulated in 2017)

Section 46 of the RPWD Act stipulates time limit for accessibility by service providers. It specifies that the service providers whether Government or private shall provide services within a period of two years from the date of notification of such rules  (The RPWD Rules were formulated in 2017)

Que 6. Are Private Companies or Multi National Companies/ organisations also required to ensure Accessibility?

Ans. Yes, the accessibility mandate is applicable to all establishments which includes private and government establishments both. The term public buildings in the RPWD Act has a wide connotation and is not restricted to a government building alone. Under section 2(w) of the RPWD Act  "public building" means a Government or private building, used or accessed by the public at large, including a building used for educational or vocational purposes, workplace, commercial activities, public utilities, religious, cultural, leisure or recreational activities, medical or health services, law enforcement agencies, reformatories or judicial for as, railway stations or platforms, roadways bus stands or terminus, airports or waterways;

Que 7.  Who is competent to do the access evaluation/audit? Can we get it done through NGOs working in disability sector or Self Help group of PwDs or our own Employees with Disabilities? 

Ans. Access Audit is a technical evaluation of built environment. The National Building Code identifies an important role for Accessibility and Universal Design Experts in the building construction projects like other professionals such as structural engineers, fire experts, sustainability experts, etc.  While usergroups amongst persons with disabilities do bring in their perspectives from their lived experiences, they may not be well versed with the requirements of other disabilities as well as the technical details of accessibility standards and application thereof on the field. And this may not produce a wholesome overview of the access audit observations and recommendations that are technically sound.

It is, therefore, advisable that professionals with experience in standards development and access auditing, preferably with IAAP Certification in Accessible Built Environments are engaged in evaluating the accessibility.

Que 8. What happens after the access audit is conducted by a competent professional?

Ans. An access audit is the first step towards identifiying and analysing the gaps in accessibilty. Once the audit report has been shared, the establishment should form a access implementation committee comrising all relevant stakeholders from the organisation that may include senior management, finance, purchase, services, employees with disabilities, Civil engineer/architect to finalise a prioritized action plan to implement the accesss auudit recommendations including preparing of further details and Bill of Quantities, allocation of budgets, connecting with vendors/suppliers and on ground implementation. The access auditors, could also be part of this team and can help you by handholding the on ground implementation, at a fee, if desired.

Que 9. How do we seek "Certification of Access Compliance" for our building?

Ans. Once the recommendations from the access audit report have been implemented, the building may be subject to a review access audit by the auditors, if they were not invovled in the ground implementation. Ideally, it is preferable that the auditors are involved in the implemntation so that any deviations  coould be pointed out at  the appropriate time saving precious resources. If the auditors find the recommendations have been correctly implemented, they can issue a certification that the building complies with the requirement of the standard/code for the specific areas. 

The building being a state subject and compliances often monitored by the Urbal Local Bodies, Muncipal agencies, Panchayats and other developmental authorities, there is no single government body for issuance of accessibility certification at the moment, however, the work is ongoing in this regard to have important check points to implement the provisions of section 44 of the RPWD Act 2016 in appropriate governements.

Que 10. We want to train our staff/ architects/ engineers on the accessibility requirements. Can you help us?

Ans. Yes, CABE Foundation has been engaged in capacity enhancement of the relevant stakeholders through tailor made course modules ranging from half day sessions to detailed 5-day courses for the technical staff on accessibility and 3-5 credit courses for the students of architecture, civil engineering, construction engineering, Urban designers in reputed colleges/ universities. Reach out to us with our specific requirement at to get a quote.

For any other information please reach out to us at 

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