Hull City Council - improved accessibility

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Hull City Council - improved accessibility

Summary: When disabled residents in Hull want to take a trip into town, they want to get to their destination on time and with the minimum of fuss. But for wheelchair users, the height of a doorstep can prove a big obstacle and entry into buildings can be a problem if ramps and lifts are not provided. For residents with a visual impairment, crossing a road can be hazardous unless 'tactile paving' is built into the pavement which people with impaired vision can feel with their feet to inform them they have reached a kerb and the edge of traffic. Disabled residents are now working with Hull City Council to improve access around town and in public buildings such as shops, offices and museums. There is a Disability Focus Group which is run by the council to consult with disabled people on all council services to ensure their voice is heard.

Action taken: Disabled residents are members of the Hull Access Improvement Group (HAIG) which is an independent body that works with the council and property developers on proposals for public spaces and large-scale planning applications such as those submitted for the St Stephen's shopping development and the KC sports stadium. They have made recommendations after viewing architects' plans about the design of lifts, ramps, doorways, notices and signs, paving, lighting, escalators and disabled toilets.

"If a visually impaired person goes into a toilet that has white tiles on the walls and white hand basins and latrines it can be like looking for a snowball in a snow storm," says local resident Ron. "But contrasting the colour of the tiles and hand basins can make them easier to distinguish. The inability to walk, see or hear is not what disables people; it's the inconsiderate or inappropriate design in buildings and public places. So if property developers and the council listen to our views at the planning stage they can make design changes to improve our access which, in turn, improves our quality of life."

Outcome: Access to all Hull's museums, including the Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square has been improved thanks to the input of disabled people. The HAIG group says that improving access for disabled people benefits everyone as it is a hallmark of good design.

"It's the often the small things that have the biggest impact," says local resident Carole. "Take the cobbles and paving in High Street - we recently advised the council on relaying them into a smoother surface to make it easier for wheelchairs and on installing a lift in Wilberforce House museum. Now, for the first time, wheelchair users can push themselves unaided down the length of High Street and get around the museum without any difficulty and that is just wonderful. It's real progress."



* Source: Joint response to the Government's Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty from a group of disability charities and disabled people’s organisations including: Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea, Action on Hearing Loss, Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mind, National AIDS Trust, Royal National Institute of Blind People, Scope and Sense [2013]