Street and town centre redevelopments are happening up and down the country. Hugh Huddy, RNIB’s Policy Manager for Inclusion, talks about why shared spaces in our towns are not safe for blind and partially sighted people.
Being able to get around independently is vital to all of us who are blind or partially sighted, but it’s not just a matter of mobility skills. It’s about the design of the streets and footpaths that we use as well.
These redevelopments are happening up and down the country at the moment, often to make room for new cycling schemes, to reduce traffic congestion, but also to make public spaces more pleasant for pedestrians.
The problem is many redevelopments are based on a shared space design, which from bitter experience, is bad for those of us who are blind or partially sighted. Navigating these areas can get a lot harder because of the loss of kerbs and controlled crossings.
Our policy is clear: all streets, footways and town centres must be accessible.
We think every public redevelopment scheme should make accessibility better than it was before, not worse. No one should ever have to cross a road or a cycle lane without being certain that they have the right of way.
Action is underway to challenge schemes that are being planned and also to get completed schemes refitted with the accessibility features that we all need.
This is a Campaign Update from the January 2018 issue of Connect magazine, issue number 18.