Earlier this year, the Department for Transport (DfT) published its draft Accessibility Action Plan, outlining its plans to improve the accessibility of our transport system. The draft is open for consultation until the 15th of November.
The publication of this Accessibility Action Plan follows the appointment of Paul Maynard as Minister for accessibility.
Overall, the appointment of a Minister for Accessibility and the production of a joined up plan for access are positive developments.
The document correctly identifies many of the issues Disabled and older people face and outlines plans on a broad range of access topics – from roads and streets to air travel. One of the headline announcements is the DfT’s intention to seek additional funding for Access for All rail projects – over the last year we have been campaigning against delayed Access for All projects so its encouraging to see positive news in this area.
However, in many areas the action plan simply contains call to evidence or plans to review guidance.
At TfA we believe that the accessibility action plan could go much further. We need the DfT to:
Regulate, don’t just produce guidance
Too many of the of the features Disabled people need to do something as simple as walk down their street are only outlined in guidance. We need to be able to hold service providers to account to a high national standard for accessibility.
Monitor and enforce
It is not enough to just require transport providers to produce accessibility policies the DfT, through organisations like the ORR must monitor their effectiveness and penalise transport operating companies who are failing Disabled and older people.
National training standards required on every mode
It’s positive that the AAP highlights the importance of Disability awareness training. Well trained staff can help Disabled and older people overcome many of the barriers they face on the transport network. However, training standards vary wildly – the Government should support Disabled People’s Organisations to develop a national standard of Disability Equality Training and require all transport operators to provide it to frontline staff.
Facilitate complaints and legal cases
Currently it is far too difficult for Disabled and older people to take action against transport providers that have let them down. It is positive that the DfT is looking to promote Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. However, it must be independent to ensure it acts in the best interests of transport users. We would also like to see more accessible, external complaints processes for all modes of transport and for the DfT to work with the Department of Justice to protect Disabled people from costs when they take cases under the Equality Act.
Take action – Send your answer
This plan will help to shape the future of access in our transport system for years to come so we need as many Disabled and older people as possible to respond to the strategy and urge the Government to take clear action on access.
Transport for All will of course respond to this consultation. If you would like to contribute to our answer, please email us your feedback by Wednesday 25th October: firstname.lastname@example.org