Unit 43 – Undertake a Research Project within Services for Health and Social Care or Children and Young People.
Has access to services improved since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and equality Act 2010?
I have chosen to research accessibility for wheelchair users in public places.
In my workplace we support two wheelchair users and one of them recently told me about some difficulty he had when accessing a public building in Halifax town centre. Disabled access is covered in the following pieces of legislation: The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 gives people with disabilities important rights to use and access services without being subjected to disability discrimination and The Equality Act 2010 says changes or adjustments should be made to ensure you can access the following things if you’re disabled:
• goods and services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals, council offices, leisure centres
• associations and private clubs like the Scouts and Guides, private golf clubs and working men clubs
The aims and objectives of my research are to look at how much of a problem access to public places is for disabled people and what is being done to overcome these issues and if the DDA 1995 and equality Act 2010 has improved the outcomes for people with disabilities. The methods of collection of information will include research on the internet and conducting a questionnaire to gain feedback from people who have encountered issues with access to public places. To ensure the accuracy of my research I will make sure that I use reputable websites and that all information is current. Ethical considerations I will make while conducting my research will be to make sure that I have consent from all participants and that their right to privacy will be protected in that all information they provide will remain confidential and all reports and findings will be anonymised. I will also make them aware that the information they provide will only be used for completing a research project for the mandatory unit in my diploma. The information collected will be treated respectfully and used honestly and without bias.
The purpose of this research project is to look at what problems are present, what changes have been made and what measures are being put into place to enable accessibility for disabled people since the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. There are many forms of disability which can cause a barrier to access such as physical or sensory loss, but I am going to focus my interest on wheelchair users as this area fits in with my client base.
To gain information and knowledge around my chosen subject I searched online, emailed organisations and conducted my own questionnaire.
Many day-to-day problems for disabled people stem from confusion over the rules, poor or insufficient communication, inadequate training, and/or a lack of enforcement.
The April 2017 Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Report stated that:
Transport options for disabled people are very limited because of the need to use only transport forms that are accessible, and these tend to be expensive. Disabled people report feeling ‘trapped’ by these high costs and limited options. Cuts to concessionary fares and local transport services have left some disabled people isolated.
There are also attitudinal or psychological barriers that prevent or discourage disabled people from using transport services. This could involve the behaviour and attitudes of some transport staff or concerns that people have about using transport, such as fear of crime, abuse or attacks. There has recently been reported issues of planned assistance not being available to assist disabled individuals on and off public transport and planes, or where the person has been forgotten and left sat on transport trying to get the attention of support to be able to get of the transport. This is both humiliating and degrading for the person and their anger and frustration has limited impact on the systems in place which shows prejudice towards these groups of people, yet highlights the needs for better services.
Transport for All published a blog by trustee Jeff Harvey explaining problems accessing the London transport network: Only 1 in 5 train stations are fully accessible around the country for disabled passengers. Wheelchair users would have to find the nearest accessible station, then find out how to get from that station to their destination. Most train companies also ask wheelchair users to book 48 hours in advance, “Turn up and Go” policies which don’t require advance booking are essential.
In December 2014 a study by Disabled Go shocked the Government with evidence of the inaccessibility of the British high street to disabled people. The Disabled Go research, which spanned across 30,000 shops and restaurants nationwide, found that less than a third of departments have accessible changing rooms, two thirds of retail staff have no training in how to help disabled customers and 40% of restaurants have no accessible toilet. The research found a fifth of shops still excluded wheelchair users
The key findings of the research which spanned over 30,000 shops and restaurants nationwide found:
That in high street shops:-
• A fifth (20 per cent) were not able to provide access for wheelchair users because of steps and no ramps;
• Less than a third of department stores have accessible changing rooms for wheelchair users;
• A third of department stores do not have an accessible toilet;
• Two thirds (65 per cent) of retail staff have not been given any disability awareness training; and
• Only 15 per cent of retailers have hearing loops for shoppers with hearing impairments.
(27,000 high street retail outlets audited)
In addition, 91% of the leading high street retailer s (105) provided no accessibility information about their stores on their own websites.
• 40% of restaurants have no accessible toilet;
• Only 23% produce menus in large print for those with visual impairments;
• Just 9% have hearing loops;
• Nearly half (45 per cent) of restaurant staff have not been given disability awareness training.
(3,716 restaurants audited)
In addition, only 14% of the leading UK restaurant chains (57) provided accessibility information about their restaurants on their own website, most of which was very basic
Visits Unlimited: Bridging the Gap
In February 2014, Visits Unlimited conducted a survey targeting 50 popular UK tourist destinations. Following feedback from families with disabled children, they wanted to compare the wishes of disabled visitors and their families against the level of understanding, desire and commitment, tourist destinations placed on meeting the needs of disabled visitors and making their attractions truly accessible to all. The survey conclusions found:
• There is a misconception that access is predominantly related to physical access around the venue with less emphasis on appropriate information and staff training
• Most venues desired more skills and opportunities to serve this market, including support with marketing their attraction
• Budget restrictions in developing an accessible strategy was an adverse factor in planning but in only a minority of cases
• 50% stated physical barriers hindered attracting disabled visitors
• No attractions stated there were staffing challenges in meeting the needs of disabled visitors
What has been done
Section 40 of The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 gives the Secretary of State a power to make regulations to ensure that public service vehicles are accessible to disabled people. The Government used these powers to bring the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (S.I.2000/1970) (“the Regulations”) into force on 30th August 2000. The Regulations apply to any public service vehicle with a capacity exceeding 22 passengers used to provide a local or scheduled service. New buses and coaches must comply from 31 December 2000 except for wheelchair access to smaller buses and to coaches which will apply from 1 January 2005. Vehicles covered by the Regulations are referred to as “regulated public service vehicles”. The requirements include:- a space for a wheelchair with suitable safety provisions a boarding device to enable wheelchair users to get on and off vehicles a minimum number of priority seats on buses for disabled passengers the size and height of steps handrails to assist disabled people colour contrasting of features such as handrails and steps to help partially sighted people easy to use bell pushes throughout a bus audible and visual signals to stop a bus or to request a boarding device equipment to display the route and destination. The Government recognises that many existing vehicles cannot be modified to meet these requirements, or it is not cost effective to do so. Such vehicles can continue in service for a period representing the end of their economic life. Nothing within these regulations requires a vehicle to be retro-fitted to meet the requirements unless an operator wishes to continue to use a vehicle on a local or scheduled service beyond the date from which all vehicles in such use must comply.
Since their introduction in 2000, the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) have prompted a significant improvement in the accessibility of local transport for many disabled people. By April 2016, 94% of buses had received a certificate, indicating that they met the PSVAR requirements, with a further 3% being of a low floor design, removing some of the barriers to bus usage that disabled people face. Coaches have until 1st January 2020 to meet the requirements.
Over 150 train stations have been given step free, accessible routes to and between every platform, and around 1,500 have received smaller scale improvements such as tactile paving or accessible toilets. To build on this success, the Access for All programme was extended in 2014, with an additional £160m to fund 68 more accessible routes. By 2019, 42 of these will have been completed, with the remainder in development.
The Department published its Access to Air Travel for Disabled People – Code of Practice 2003, which provided advice on all aspects of access to air travel. This aimed to promote a better understanding of accessibility needs, and to set out the legal requirements and recommendations into best practice for all those involved in providing services related to air travel, including airports, airlines, aircraft designers, travel agents, tour operators, ground handling companies and retailers. The Code of Practice was subsequently updated in 2008 to coincide with changes in legislation in this area, namely the introduction of EU Regulation (EC) 1107/2006, regarding the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air. The updated Code was equally focused on the obligations for the service providers in the aviation sector.
An estimated 37,600 residents in Calderdale have some form of disability. Calderdale’s mission to “Be the Best Borough in the North” includes their aims to be fully inclusive and reduce inequalities so disabled people can access all areas and all parts of Calderdale life. Calderdale Council’s “All Age Disability Strategy 2017-2018” spoke to over 800 individual people. About accessibility they told the strategy they needed to “challenge thinking, support change in attitudes and inform Calderdale that disability and making places accessible is everyone’s responsibility and everyone has an important part to play.”
The twelve pillars of independent living developed by disabled people identify a range of issues that need to be worked on and improved to make independent living a reality. Under each of the twelve Pillars there are a wide range of practical solutions to facilitate Independent Living, disability equality and Social Inclusion. Two of these pillars relate to this research project, “Full access to the environment” and “A fully-accessible transport system”
An example of good practice included in the strategy is:
Making Hebden Bridge accessible to all project
The community Foundation for Calderdale and Hebden Bridge Partnership came together for a new initiative, designed to help the local economy recover from the Boxing Day 2015 floods and to promote Hebden Bridge as an exemplary town for access for disabled people and access issues. Both the community Foundation and the Partnership are conscious that one of the side-effects of current local flood resilience work could potentially be that shops, premises and public buildings become less accessible for disabled people (floors are raised, steps put in, etc.). The aim with the new initiative is both to assist local disabled people, but also to make the town as attractive as possible to visitors and tourists who have access needs and broaden the range of people who decide to visit the town. This project focussed on helping local businesses and community organisations to improve access to their premises. The Community Foundation agreed to fund access audits of local businesses and community premises from the local specialist social enterprise Visits Unlimited by Chris Cammiss. Chris, who is a wheelchair user, and brought a wealth of expertise to focus on accessibility in its broadest sense, who ensured, wherever possible, low-cost solutions to access difficulties. Following the audits funding support was from the Community Foundation for Calderdale to help local business and community organisations to act on the recommendations of the audit.
The Department for Transport’s Disabled Persons Transport Advisory committee (DPTAC)’s vision is that disabled people should have the same access to transport as everybody else, to be able to go where everyone else goes and to do so easily, confidently and without extra cost. Their draft Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) represents part of an ongoing journey for the Department in its work to improve disabled peoples access to transport and the built environment in which it operates.
1st January 2020 is the date by which all buses, coaches and trains must meet legal accessibility requirements.
In August 2017 the Government published a draft Transport Accessibility Action Plan, setting out how it wants the transport industry to move forwards in improving accessibility and how it intends to help the industry achieve this.
Early designs showing how Halifax rail station could be transformed into a world-class facility, improve access to the town and boost economic growth were discussed at Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 19 March 2018. The concept design which was recommended for Cabinet approval included:
1. A proposed new station at platform level;
2. A transport interchange combining all modes of travel to and from the station;
3. Replacement of the station access bridge with an attractive landscaped entrance to the new station;
4. A new car park and drop-off, pick-up and taxi points;
5. Re-opening the third platform in front of the ‘1855 building’;
6. New areas for shops or food and drink businesses.
Accessibility for everyone, including step-free access was a key feature of the design.
Network Rail is delivering a number of improvement schemes to Hebden Bridge station including longer platforms and new accessible facilities and passenger lifts.
Calderdale’s “All Age Disability Strategy” is about everyone, disabled people, family members, carers, friends, neighbours, employers, educators, decision makers, funders and planners. It aims to challenge thinking, change attitudes and inform Calderdale that disability and removing barriers is everyone’s responsibility and everyone has an important part to play. We want disabled people to be independent and equal in society and to have the same choice and control over their own lives as able bodied people.
Results of my own Research
There are many ways to carry out research into a topic and can be primary or secondary. Primary research is completed independently such as my research and completed for my own use. Methods to collect data for primary research can be surveys, interviews and observations in practice. Secondary research is carried out by others, as shown in my literature review, which can then be used in my role to develop my understanding and the staff team. the workforce in the home. This method is used to find out what other people have found out about the topic and can provide statistics or evidence to improve knowledge around the topic.
Quantitative and qualitative research methods are used to determine the data of any research undertaken, and how this is shown within the research. Quantitative research is based on the statistics and was developed to study natural behaviours. The information generally obtained is through surveys, experiments and statistical data. The strengths of using this method is that controls are in place and checks are carried out. More accurate results can be obtained as there is an objective approach to the data collection. This method also means that large numbers of people can be involved in the research and this means that the research covers a big group of people, so the information covers a larger group, and leads to more information being collected. The weaknesses of the quantitative approach are that often the research is carried out in controlled areas i.e. laboratories, which does not reflect the true nature of the research especially in studies of human behaviours and this can lead to inaccurate results and the data could be invalid. Qualitative research methods allow the researcher to study the meanings for behaviours, and can be further questioned to get more data, it also observes the behaviour in normal, natural settings. Qualitative research is often used for research in individual settings and can then relate to the specifics of that setting. It can collect data about what is happening at the time that cannot be collected from statistics. This method uses methods of data collection from observations, focus groups, interviews or case studies. These methods are time consuming and have to take place over a long period of time to ensure that the results obtained can be verified. This is also a weakness as it is not a quick way of collecting data and the data will vary depending on the situation and size of the group to be researched. It is also difficult to test out the results as it is difficult to replicate, and this means that the results may only be relevant to the group or area the research is carried out in. I decided to carry out a questionnaire as this was a quick and easy way to gather data, can be anonymised and simple so that our client’s are able to answer the questions.
Due to the questionnaires completed consisting mainly of narrative and examples of what people had come across, I have not put this into a chart but discussed the answers received. (Questionnaire and covering letter added as appendices for information.)
1. Have you ever been physically unable to access a public building due to being a wheelchair user?
Yes – Problems accessing services shown by everyone. Examples given included shops which did not have ramps and Halifax Town Hall.
2. Have you ever been unable to access or excluded from certain areas of a public building due to being a wheelchair user?
All questionnaires returned stated that they had issues with access and wheelchair accessibility. Examples were; not being able to access the lift in the Piece Hall, museums where only the ground floor was accessible and shops that didn’t have enough space between shelving/rails.
3. Have you ever been physically unable to access or excluded from any form of public transport due to being a wheelchair user?
Four out of six people stated they had issues with public transport, ie; unable to get on a bus because of prams, wheelchair accessible taxis are not always available, bus driver refusing to deploy the ramp.
4. Do you think there are enough accessible toilets available for wheelchair users?
All respondents stated that there were not enough disabled toilets. One person stated that they needed a hoist and bed and there were very few available and another said that they have closed most of them.
5. Do you think there are enough accessible changing rooms available for wheelchair users?
Five of the respondents stated that there were not enough changing rooms and places to try things on and one said that there was and that they go to places where they can get changed.
6. Do you think accessibility could be improved? &
7. If you answered Yes, How could it be improved?
All stated that access could be improved and the suggestions for this included; putting more money into health & social care and consulting wheelchair users, theatres only allow a number of wheelchairs, cinema seating is unfair and as they are at the front, their neck hurts because of the angle and that buses were not wide enough.
8. Do you think there are enough lowered kerbs?
All who completed the questionnaire stated that there were not enough lowered kerbs to enable easier access, reasons stated for this were; cars parked in front of them, kerbs aren’t lined up and they are nowhere near each other.
9. Have you ever been unable to go somewhere due to lack of accessibility or accessible public transport?
Five of the respondents had not been able to go somewhere because of poor accessibility, examples are: Can’t get transport everywhere, Transport is expensive and difficult to arrange, I couldn’t go abroad because I have to sit in an airline seat and I need to be in my chair. One stated they had not had this problem.
10. In general, how do you find staff attitudes towards disabled customers?
Three out of Six people said that people do not talk to them but they still talk over the wheelchair to the carer. One said staff are nice at restaurants, they are helpful and two people stated that some will help and others won’t.
11. Have you ever been made to feel like a burden by staff members?
Three respondents stated that they had. Examples include; people don’t move on the street or make you squeeze to fit and when they must move things for me.
12. In general, do you feel the rights and choices of disabled customers are upheld? &
13. If you answered no, what rights and choices do you feel are not promoted?
Five of the people who completed the questionnaire said no, they stated that people assume I don’t have capacity/ can’t make choices and they do not consider disabled people at all. The sixth person did not answer the question.
After looking at the topic area I believe that not enough was done for quite a while after the introduction of the Disability discrimination Act but since the research carried out by DisabilityGo being presented to the Government, this has spurred them on to make changes. Hopefully the findings of my own questionnaire will reflect the findings of the research covered in this review.
I conclude that my findings are in line with the DisabledGo study in that many public buildings are not accessible to wheelchair users, there are not enough public disabled toilets and many of the shops do not have accessible changing rooms.
One reason that places such as museums are not accessible may be that they are listed buildings which would restrict certain alterations being made to them.
The fact that four out of the six people who took part in the questionnaire stated that they had problems accessing public transport suggests that there is a lot of improvement needed in this area. Although there is a deadline of 1st January 2020 when all buses, coaches and trains must meet legal accessibility requirements, there will still remain issues with access to railway platforms and availability of wheelchair accessible taxis.
There also still remains an issue with wheelchair users being able to get on a bus when pushchairs are also on the bus, even though there is a Supreme Court ruling that wheelchair users should be given priority for wheelchair spaces on buses.
This research could be presented to Calderdale Council to highlight to them where problems with wheelchair accessibility still remain and will be used to discuss these areas in forums re disabilities that our service are involved in to try to get changes made to improve fair access to services for all.
Websites where I have found information are:
file:///G:/Accessibility%20Research/DisabledGo%20study%20shocks%20the%20Government%20with%20evidence%20of%20inaccessible%20British%20high%20streets%20%20%20DisabledGo%20News%20and%20Blog.htm#.WxaO0u4vyUk (accessed May 25th, 2018)
http://www.visitsunlimited.org.uk/accessible-tourism-statistics-uk/ (accessed May 25th, 2018)
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-transport-accessibility-action-plan/accessibility-action-plan-consultation-html-version (accessed May 25th, 2018)
Documents where information has been sourced are:
Calderdale Council – All Age Disability Strategy 2017-18
Department for Transport – Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 – Guidance
House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number CBP 601, 5 March 2018 Access to transport for disabled people