- 2006 National Disabled Members' Conference
- 19 October 2006
This Conference welcomes the launching of a report on Shared Surfaces by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association on September 15, 2006. This report is also welcomed by a number of other disability organisations including the British Council of Disabled People (BCODP) and outlines the affect on blind and partially sighted and other disabled people of a new Shared Space concept where all separation between the road and the pavement is removed and there is only one type of surface under foot.
Visually impaired people and disabled people with other impairments highlighted dangers including:
·Nearly stepping out in front of a bus
·Getting knocked over by cyclists
·Being intimidated by traffic passing close by, and
·Finding it extremely difficult to cross carriageways safely
Research in Holland where the shared space concept originated has also highlighted similar dangers. The research also showed a failure to adequately consult visually impaired people in either country.
A survey for the Disabled Person’s Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) on transport for disabled people found that the issue that most concerned disabled people was transport and in turn the transport issue which most concerned them was the pedestrian environment. Sixty five per cent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with pavement maintenance, including 34% who were very dissatisfied. The extension of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to cover the functions of public bodies including those relating to the pedestrian environment in 2005 was therefore welcome. But Conference believes that these new schemes which make an already bad situation worse are not consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act. Conference also believes that the draft Manual for Streets, produced by the Department for Transport and Department for Communities and Local Government, which suggest that pedestrians and drivers will “make eye contact” is also inconsistent with the new law. We also believe that the introduction of shared space schemes which make the pedestrian environment worse for disabled people is also inconsistent with the new Public Sector Duty coming into force in December 2006. Conference also believes that shared space schemes are not consistent with the Government’s agenda for getting more disabled people into work.
Taxies and private hire vehicles also provide an alternative to inaccessible pedestrian environments but the Government’s failure to introduce Taxi Accessibility Regulations under Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act has limited their effectiveness in providing accessible door to door transport for disabled people.
Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee (NDMC) to:
1.Highlight this issue as part of its ongoing Public Sector Duty Campaign.
2.Ask the Local Government Service Group Executive to highlight this issue to UNISON branches with members working in local authority planning and highway departments.
3.Campaign to get highway design guidance produced which adequately deals with this issue and meets the needs of all disabled people seeking the support of the UNISON Labour Link National Committee and the UNISON Parliamentary Group as necessary.
4.Campaign for the early introduction of taxi accessibility regulations covering taxies and private hire vehicles seeking the support of the UNISON Labour Link National Committee and the UNISON Parliamentary Group as necessary.