COP26 Campaign Update – Do Blind People Have A Future in Glasgow, Scotland and in the UK as Towns and Cities Race to New Zero to Protect the Planet?
Sandy Taylor, Scottish Chair of NFBUK explains what we organised last week in Glasgow, as part of the side events for the COP26 Climate Conference to ensure blind and visually impaired people are not left behind in the race to reach net zero to protect the planet.
Sandy Taylor, asked the question if there was a future for blind people in Glasgow, Scotland and the UK, as the way the towns and cities are being redesigned are not addressing the accessibility needs for blind and visually impaired people. Sandy was concerned without inclusive design principles underpinning the agreements made at COP26 to reach Net Zero to tackle climate change blind and visually impaired people would literally be left behind as cities adapt and change to protect the environment and the climate. Sandy was very keen to stress that sustainability and accessibility had to go hand in hand.
Invites were sent to Councillors, COP26 Delegates and anybody else who was interested to walk, wheel and talk with him down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow to learn about the designs that discriminate against blind and visually impaired people, which were used in the redesign even though it was advised not too. An invite was put on twitter and this is the youtube version https://youtu.be/PHs3U6356ccg, and all elected Councillors were invited to attend via email.
Other short films and challenges for COP26 were put on Twitter and have been uploaded to YouTube and can been accessed at the links below:
• Sandy’s message ‘What Chance Do I Have?’ regarding the redesign of Sauchiehall Street https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VLeH0AuHMg. This film shows a two way cycle lane ending on a shared used pavement, leading to two greenman controlled pedestrian crossings.
• This film shows how Sandy is expected to cross a double cycle lane to get to a bus, as the cycle lane is sandwiched in between the pavement and the bus stop. Sandy clearly stated direct access from the pavement to the bus is what is needed and what has been designed is not safe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfbOqoD-LPk.
• Messages on Twitter were also used to highlight the importance of inclusive design underpinning all the agreements at COP26 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnl7PX_3ypg&t=9s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jysxb6oHa8g
We had a good reaction to this invite and met with Councillors from the SNP, The Green Party, The Conservative Party – including the Lord Provost and from the Labour Party as well as other COP26 delegates to explain and show the concerns raised. Tom Walker, from Walk on Water PR also came up to Glasgow to interview Sandy about Sauchiehall Street which I filmed. I am going to be putting a film together to bring what happened to illustrate the concerns raised, which I will share when finished.
This was done to explain to the Councillors and other people that attended, that if the concerns Sandy and colleagues had raised had been acted upon then the problems now being experienced could have been avoided making the street work for everybody. At the moment the street brings cyclists and pedestrians into conflict and makes it an unsafe place to use independently. This did not have to be the case, we are hoping lessons can be learnt to ensure all future street changes are based on inclusive design principles.