LETTER: Covid changes must be disabled-friendly

A reader urges changes to be made with disabled people in mind during coronavirus.

With lockdown easing, it’s clear the Government wants us to become more active, return to work and dine out again. To support this, local authorities have already begun to create new cycle lanes, e-scooter trials have started, and more tables and chairs are appearing on our pavements.

But some of these changes are having a direct impact on blind and partially sighted people, who can’t see where new cycle lanes cross walkways, find it difficult to identify silent e-scooters and have paths blocked by al fresco dining outside restaurants.

It’s essential that local authorities consult with disabled people to consider the effect these changes may have on people who are blind or partially sighted, or who have other mobility issues. Space for new cycle lanes should be taken from roads, have controlled crossings, and not affect bus stop access. E-scooter trials must not inadvertently increase obstacles on the pavement, and businesses considering putting furniture outside should think about how disabled people will navigate around it.

Our ‘new normal’ should be as open and inclusive as possible, to help everyone get back outside – not make it more difficult.

Eleanor Thompson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, RNIB

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