“I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has given their time to share experiences with us this year. In Dundee we heard about challenges navigating the transition as a blind person, and how frequently rapid developments fail to engage people with disabilities effectively, which means their needs can be overlooked. We heard about cycles lane being designed and constructed without a clear separation from pedestrians, such as a raised kerb to help navigate the new infrastructure, risking the safety of blind and partially sighted people. We also heard about challenges of navigating rapid changes to infrastructure without clear accessible communication, even for those who can afford new technologies such as smart canes. It highlights how proactive accessible inclusive engagement throughout development and construction is crucial for a just transition. When my Mom lost her ability to walk on our final holiday together, in Scotland, as a family, we did our research to find accessible locations and tried to enjoy new places and experiences; however, we were constantly disappointed and frustrated realising that places that cater for wheelchair users was a rarity. I cannot imagine how exhausting it must be dealing with such challenges and frustrations each and every day. I’ve been fortunate to work in the charitable sector and with those who automatically think about the needs of all their users in infrastructure changes and developments, showing us what can be achieved. This way of thinking should be the norm.
In the evening we met a variety of people from the local community, and we heard how active transport investment had taken place in a more affluent part of Dundee, while bus routes have been removed from more deprived areas of Dundee. We heard from a local resident who said her neighbour couldn’t walk very far and could no longer catch the bus to get her shopping, because the nearest bus stop was too far away. Though it is challenging to think holistically and connect all the various different strands that need to come together for a future just Scotland, it is imperative we do so. To be more strategic with both planning and investment. To connect the dots, eradicate marginalisation and improve the lives of those that are currently most marginalised. We need to do better. We can do better.”
This blog was first published in our annual report 2023.