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12 October 2009

Mott MacDonald and Disability - Access of the Strategic Road Network

Mott MacDonald’s role in assisting the Highways Agency with meeting its requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995 – amended 2005*) has reached a major milestone with the publication of: Disability - Access of the Strategic Road Network. This publication reports results from a consultation conducted with groups representing people with disabilities in 2008-9 and gives an overview of how the Highways Agency will act upon the views raised.

This publication is widely available on the Highways Agency’s website at: www.highways.gov.uk/disability and hard copies can be obtained by telephoning the Agency’s information line on 08457 50 40 30.

Disability – Access of the Strategic Road Network is part of a wider programme being undertaken by the Highways Agency to improve the accessibility of its network for disabled people. The Highways Agency is already applying inclusive design principles to its new structures and it is now embarking on addressing its large portfolio of existing infrastructure. Mott MacDonald was commissioned in 2007 to help with the delivery of this programme.

Mott MacDonald’s multi-disciplinary team has been involved in stakeholder engagement and communications, overall programme management and modifying the Highways Agency's internal decision-making models and value management systems to factor in the priorities of disabled people. To deliver this work Mott MacDonald set-up a highly skilled cross-departmental team led by experienced project manager Adrian Bates, equalities and stakeholder engagement specialist Kerry Schofield and value management expert Bob Morris, with a team of talented professionals pulling together design advice. All tasks are interdependent, requiring the multi-disciplinary team to work in close collaboration.

Kerry Schofield explained the background to the publication, “Key to the Highways Agency’s DDA project is prioritising the works it undertakes across its huge portfolio so that improvements to facilities that are of most benefit to disabled people are undertaken at the start of the programme. This prioritisation was undertaken by consulting with organisations representing disabled people to find out where accessibility enhancements could be of most value and make most difference to travel independence. The new publication sets out this consultation process and explains how the Highways Agency is taking recommendations forward.”

“The main message returned from stakeholders was that accessible footways and footpaths (including pedestrian crossings); bus stops; and emergency road side telephones should be the short-term priorities for the Highways Agency. These priorities are being fed through to the decision-making models so that they can be acted upon,” Kerry commented.

Following on from this consultation work, Mott MacDonald will write a guidance manual for Highways Agency staff on implementing the DDA. This will include design principles, the audit of existing facilities and future consultation with local stakeholders representing disabled people. Mott MacDonald will support the uptake of the manual by holding training workshops for Highways Agency staff and help to embed the needs of disabled customers into the value management processes so that they are systematically considered during investment decisions.

Adrian Bates, overall project manager concluded, “This is a principal project for Mott MacDonald and we’re delighted to have been selected by Highways Agency to help them deliver safer and more accessible highways for disabled people.”

Ends



Editors’ notes

The introduction of the DDA in 1995 represented a fundamental step towards improving equality if service provision for disabled people. It placed responsibilities on providers to offer equal standards pf service to all customers and make reasonable adjustments to policies, procedures and physical structures in order to do so. In 2005 amendments to the Act were passed, which strengthened the 1995 requirements and introduced the Disability Equality Duty (DED) making it a formal responsibility to consult with disabled people to better understand their needs.
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