Talking accessibility: 'It doesn't have to be like this'


On the opening day of Traffex, Helen Aluko-olokun (pictured below), policy business partner at Guide Dogs, took part in a key session on inclusive mobility, which made the point that ‘if you don’t actively include all travellers in your planning, you will end up excluding people whether you mean to or not’.

Transport Network caught up with Ms Aluko-olokun before her presentation and the issue of how blind people can often be unnecessarily excluded by poor street design very quickly came to the fore.


‘My remit is the street and built environment and I’ve worked for a number of years now with local planners, designers, transport planners, looking at how to make the external environment accessible. What we have all the time being thrown back to us is that designing for people with disabilities is not that fancy, it’s going to be looking boring, and stuff like that.

‘It doesn’t necessarily have to be like that, with technology, the way it’s going, smart technology especially, the fact is that we shouldn’t even be thinking it’s not aesthetically pleasing.

'There are ways in which you can make designing inclusively just as attractive. And one of the things I want to get through today is, if you design for the most vulnerable person, everybody can use it. It’s a win-win situation.’

Unsurprisingly, the recent decision of Kensington and Chelsea council to reinstate street furniture in the flagship shared space scheme on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, has not escaped Ms Aluko-olokun’s attention, albeit that she says “we told you so” in an inclusive way.

‘This retrofitting is a very good example, with Exhibition Road at the moment after 10 years of raising its profile, despite the fact that Guide Dogs said it wasn’t going to work, now, what are we doing? They’re retrofitting, putting back the same features we took out in the first place.’

Transport Network asked whether Ms Aluko-olokun thought Exhibition Road was part of a wider rejection of the shared space idea. She replied: ‘I think so and I hope so, because we’ve tried over the years to try to work with local authorities and it’s never been perfect.’

Exhibition Road

It has been suggested that the issue with shared space is not so much that blind and partially-sighted people are being injured but that they are being designed out; there is a feeling that they can't access those streetscapes in the first place, so that accident statistics only tell half the story.

‘This is a conversation I had as far back as 2007, when they said, by installing shared surfaces there are no accidents and I said, have you got statistics to prove how many disabled people use that environment and how many of them are still using it?

‘And the answer was, no we don’t have that kind of data collection. Why? The reason you don’t have that data is because they don’t turn up, and if they don’t turn up, you’re not going to have accidents. That is the wrong measure to use to classify whether a scheme is successful – the rate of accidents.

‘So it’s excluding them and we shouldn’t be doing that in this day and age.’

But Ms Aluko-olokun’s message remains positive: ‘I’ve been around Traffex and I’ve looked at some stuff and there are some pretty good things coming out, technology- wise, that can help to make sure that this environment can be accessible for blind and partially-sighted people and other disabled people.

‘I had a look at a stand called Tac-Grid and they have designed tactile paving, which will have technology built into it that combines with your long cane or smart shoes, which is just an insole, and it tells you what’s to your left, what’s to your right. And it’s actually, the installation of it is said to be two-thirds cheaper than putting concrete down.

‘This is something they can do if they really want to be inclusive.’

Also see

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Project Engineer (Permanent)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Project Engineer (Fixed Term)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Contract Supervisor

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£31,013 - £36,486 depending on skills, knowledge and experience
The role of Contract Supervisor (Waste and Street Cleansing) will require you to support ambitious plans to provide services for residents Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Flood Risk Manager

Birmingham City Council
£43,662 - £54,574
The role requires the post holder to be the lead professional for the Authority’s Flood Risk Management and drainage function Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Head of Highways & Transport

Lewisham London Borough Council
up to £72,705
As our lead expert on highways and transport, you will set the direction and lead on all transport related matters Lewisham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lewisham London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part time, job share and flexible working basis. The salary is u England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director

Hounslow London Borough Council
Up to £82k
Working across a wide range of high profile direct services, the emphasis for this role is on partnership working. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Head of Parks and Environmental Services

Harrogate Borough Council
£58,778 - £61,882
You will have experience at a senior level in the management and delivery of front line services relevant to the functions Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Harrogate Borough Council

Programme Technician/Engineer

Norfolk County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
This is a challenging position which involves working across wide ranging activities. Norwich, Norfolk
Recuriter: Norfolk County Council

Principal Transport Planner – 2 posts (Warrington Waterfront Western Link)

Warrington Borough Council
£40,760 - £43,662 plus essential car user allowance
We are looking to form a new Warrington Waterfront Western Link Team and we are looking to fill a number of key posts Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Director of Integrated Transport

Liverpool City Region
Salary up to £124,848
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is embarking on a search for an exceptional individual with the passion to deliver on our vision Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Highways Manager

Oxford Direct Services
Oxford Direct Services
Recuriter: Oxford Direct Services

Data Entry Administrator

Telford & Wrekin Council
£18,795 - £19,171
Telford & Wrekin’s Public Protection Service is looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated Data Entry Administrator Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Transport Planner

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 to £38,423
You’ll have previous experience of working in a transport/planning/accessible transport environment Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Parking Business Administrator Level 3 Apprenticeship

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
This role will support the Brent Parking Team work to provide administrative support for both the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Principal Engineer (Development)

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
Liverpool City Council wish to recruit a Principal Engineer (Development) to provide managerial and technical support. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Traffic Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
We are looking to recruit a Traffic Manager to join our Highways team Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Team Leader x2 - Passenger Transport

Redbridge London Borough Council
£27,228 - £28,215 per annum
You will be responsible for overseeing the duties of Passenger Transport drivers as well as providing support to the service and managers. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

UTMC Engineer

Warrington Borough Council
£31,371 - £34,788
You will support the UTMC Principal Engineer and work as part of a team responsible for all aspects of Urban Traffic Management and Control Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Programme Assurance Manager Public Realm

Westminster City Council
£46,293 - £49,203 per annum
A graduate, or have equivalent experience, and you can show evidence of continued professional, managerial and personal development... City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council