3 Meeting the Needs of Disabled People

3 Meeting the Needs of Disabled People

3.1 Introduction

This section describes key elements in the process which should be followed when designing a road improvement to ensure the needs of disabled people are integrated into the design.

3.2 Involvement

The involvement of disabled people is a key element of inclusive design and is a requirement of the Equality Act (2010).

Local Access Panels include disabled people with an interest in improving access to the built environment and can be useful groups to involve during the development of road projects. Transport Scotland involved Access Panels from across Scotland in the development of its Trunk Road Disability Equality Scheme and Action Plan. The Scottish Disability Equality Forum (SDEF) acts as an umbrella body for most Access Panels in Scotland and operates an online directory of local Access Panels (see www.sdef.org.uk).

3.3 Access Champion

Regardless of the scale of the project, a member of the Design Team must champion the needs of non-motorised users and disabled people reviewing the proposals at key stages to ensure that aims are being met. On large projects this may be an independent expert and on smaller projects this role may be only one part of an individual's wider brief. This role is a mandatory requirement for trunk road projects and the individual is to be formally appointed by letter from the beginning of the detailed design (DMRB Stage 3) to construction and commissioning.

The person in this role should have detailed technical knowledge and understanding of the diverse and sometimes conflicting needs of disabled people within environments. This includes the needs of everyone, from people with sensory and cognitive impairments to people with mobility impairments, including wheelchair users. To give balanced recommendations the Access Champion must also have an appreciation of other users' needs including children and older people. An understanding of road construction and design is also important in order to understand the other demands on a project.

3.4 Equality Impact Assessments and Test of Reasonableness

Transport Scotland, like all public authorities, has an obligation under the terms of the Equality Act (2010) to carry out Equality Impact Assessments (EqIA) of the effect on disabled people of all its functions and actions. This process includes identifying and assessing opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of disabled people as well as assessing ways to remove, avoid or mitigate barriers or other negative effects on disabled people. Transport Scotland must give due consideration to many competing demands in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the trunk road network and in spending a finite budget. Therefore, Tests of Reasonableness will be carried out on the different types of barrier to access. Quantifying the benefit of addressing a barrier and the cost involved are key factors in establishing reasonableness. However, it should be noted that the Equality Act (2010) permits authorities to treat disabled people more favourably. For more details on EqIA and Tests of Reasonableness refer to Appendix A.

3.5 Existing Guidance and Standards

The following layout drawings and text represent current international good practice for inclusive design in the road environment. The key references are the DMRB and 'Inclusive Mobility' (Department for Transport, 2005) but there are also a number of other documents referred to. This guidance is laid out in a similar order to the DMRB to assist designers when using the document.

3.6 Implementation

This Good Practice Guide must be used forthwith for the procurement of trunk road works at any stage from conception through design to completion of construction except where the procurement of such works has reached a stage which (in the opinion of Transport Scotland) use of this Good Practice Guide would result in unreasonable additional expense or delay progress. In such an event the decision must be recorded and the non-compliant item(s) must be audited and details added to Transport Scotland's DDA Database for future attention.

3.7 Good Practice Guide Departures from Standard

Any design feature that does not comply with the standards set out in this Good Practice Guide is to be treated as a Departure from Standard. Applications for Departures must be submitted to the relevant Transport Scotland Project Manager together with supporting documentation including the mandatory Test of Reasonableness. The determination of the Departure will be the responsibility of a Chartered Engineer within the relevant Transport Scotland internal project management team. The determination must be passed to Standards Branch for retention on the Departures Database. Details of approved Departures from Standard must be passed to the DDA Database team to be recorded as potential barriers to access for future consideration.

3.8 Accessibility Audit System

As designs progress, plans should be audited to identify any design deficiencies and ensure opportunities to achieve accessible design are properly considered. The Accessibility Audit System detailed in Chapter 6 shall be applied on all trunk road schemes listed in Section 6.1.3