What is an Accessibility Action Plan?

An Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) is the most widely accepted term for what used to be known as Disability Action Plans. Many leading organisations now use the term Accessibility Action Plan.

An Accessibility Action Plan is an outward sign of an organisation’s intention to eliminate discrimination and outlines its plan for how this will be tackled.

It details how an organisation is making its workplace, products and services accessible to people with disability, and informs the public how it is approaching diversity and inclusion.  

An Accessibility Action Plan can also reduce the likelihood of discrimination complaints and the costs that accompany this. It is a formal document with particular requirements that is usually lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

For information and assistance on developing your Accessibility Action Plan, please visit our Consultancy page.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) encourages organisations to develop action plans to eliminate discriminatory practices. It effectively is a strategy for changing business practices which might result in discrimination against people with disability.

For an organisation to benefit from the work involved in developing an action plan, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recommends that an action plan should:

  • Eliminate discrimination in an active way
  • Improve services to existing consumers or customers
  • Enhance organisational image
  • Reduce the likelihood of complaints being made
  • Increase the likelihood of being able to successfully defend complaints
  • Increase the likelihood of avoiding costly legal action
  • Allow for a planned and managed change in business or services
  • Open up new markets and attract new consumers

An Accessibility Action Plan will be effective in ensuring compliance with the DDA if it convinces complainants and ultimately a Hearing Commissioner or the Federal Court that it:

  1. Demonstrates commitment to eliminating discrimination
  2. Shows clear evidence of effective consultation with stakeholders
  3. Has priorities which are appropriate and relevant
  4. Provides continuing consultation, evaluation and review
  5. Has clear timelines and implementation strategies and
  6. Is in fact being implemented.

Developing and implementing an Accessibility Action Plan is a voluntary, proactive approach to DDA compliance. It has benefits both for organisations and for people with disability. For organisations, the development and implementation of action plans enhances corporate image, delivers services more efficiently and accesses a wider market. It also enables organisations to set objectives and actions, assign accountability and responsibility and measure outcomes through effective evaluation methods.

For examples of best practice Accessibility Action Plans, see our page, Accessibility Action Plan - Development and Advice.

How is an Accessibility Action Plan developed?

Key people who are responsible for delivering policies and processes relating to all internal and external processes including IT, property, employment, communications, advertising and goods and services need to:

  • Review current practices to identify barriers
  • Develop policies and programs to eliminate barriers
  • Allocate responsibility
  • Devise evaluation strategies to monitor progress
  • Develop communication strategies

In a small business, this may be relatively straightforward and you may choose to implement changes rather than formally develop and lodge an Accessibility Action Plan. However, in large complex organisations with multiple outlets, the required changes may need to be planned over a period of years.

Each business unit manager needs to establish how accessible their policies, processes and goods and services currently are for people with disability. This can be done in consultation with people with disability stakeholder groups including employees with disability. Actions need to be prioritised to eliminate the barriers that have the greatest impact first. 

Accessibility Action Plans need to allocate the financial and people resources required to implement the required changes. An action plan that is not supported by financial and people resources is destined to fail. Once developed, an action plan can be given to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. In the event of a complaint, the Commission is required by the DDA to consider the organisation's Accessibility Action Plan.