Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Meeting the needs of disabled people

Last week I promised to look into the problems apparently faced by disabled people in the Pedestrian Heart area, and especially those with a visual impairment.

The Council did consult with groups representing disabled people as part of the preparation work for PH, principally Darlington Association on Disability. Of course, the final scheme had to take the needs of all town centre users into account, although safety was at a premium.

Specific changes were made as a result of this consultation - for example kerbs on Tubwell Row were lowered following the recognition that they posed a trip hazard, especially for those with visual impairments. Access to Abbots yard car park was altered following a response to comments from people with visual impairments. There are other alterations which were made in response to general disability issues but would also benefit visually impaired people, such as the changed design to accommodate a crossing point on Houndgate to ensure safety for all users near the bus stop.

As people move through the scheme, there will be a clear delineation between pedestrianised area and where there are traffic movements. Work still has to be done to make sure that this principle is extended to the 'gateways' to the PH area in Northgate and Blackwellgate, for example. The Council is continuing to work with DAD to ensure the scheme is safe.

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