Angus Council has adopted a street charter that aims to reduce the everyday hazards faced by blind and partially sighted residents.
Advertising boards, bollards, bins, cars parked on pavements and 'shared space' schemes are among the most common, say sight loss charities RNIB Scotland and Guide Dogs Scotland, who have welcomed the move.
A third of people RNIB surveyed said they had been injured by pavement obstacles when walking outside. Some felt so intimidated they ended up staying isolated in their homes.
Councillor Bill Duff, who sits on the council committees which look after roads and planning respectively, said: “Angus Council is pleased to adopt a street charter in support of blind and partially sighted people to ensure that all our citizens can safely enjoy our streets. We have a number of measures that can be taken to ensure that pavements are uncluttered and unnecessary obstructions are controlled.”
Applauding the decision by Angus Council to introduce a street charter, both RNIB Scotland and Guide Dogs Scotland said thousands of people with sight loss face challenges getting around their local area every day.
Sandra Wilson, chair of RNIB Scotland, who has sight loss herself, said: "This is welcome news for blind and partially sighted people with sight loss. We hope more councils will follow Angus in agreeing a street charter. We know streets can't always be free of clutter. But we can do more to make them accessible. A street charter can be flexible enough to take into account the local geography, characteristics and features of an area, while at the same time being shaped by the knowledge of people most affected.
"We are calling on all local authorities to engage with residents with sight loss and put accessibility at the heart of local planning."
Niall Foley, engagement manager for Guide Dogs Scotland, said:
"Obstacles such as street clutter, advertising boards, and some street designs can cause potentially dangerous problems for many people who are blind or partially sighted on a daily basis. Guide Dogs Scotland welcomes the move by Angus Council to introduce a street charter, and encourages all local authorities to make our streets accessible for all."
The charities also want the Scottish Government to strengthen and reinforce existing legislation. Under the 1984 Roads Scotland Act it is an offence to wilfully obstruct free passage along the road and deposit anything which causes an obstruction. The Equality Act 2010 requires public authorities to take reasonable steps to enable disabled people to avoid substantial disadvantages caused by physical features.
Over 170,000 people in Scotland live with a significant level of sight loss.