ELLON Community Councillors gathered for the first meeting of 2011 Monday and welcomed visitors Bill Dow and Aileen Clark from the central branch of Aberdeenshire Access Panel.
Bill gave a presentation informing members of the work carried out by the Panel which consists of formally trained DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) volunteers, some of whom have disabilities, and explained ways in which access issues could be improved by introducing ramps, touch pads and bells ranging from sophisticated access systems to very basic, low cost solutions.
Bill said: “DDA states that people with disabilities should have access to all services which means shops, local authority buildings, public buildings – all these should make reasonable adjustments to allow the service to be provided.
“It’s sometimes very difficult or impossible to make structural alterations to old buildings. New buildings are fine because it’s taken care of in the planning application.”
Commenting that people in wheelchairs who want to retain their independence are limited in the shops and premises they can access, driving their custom to supermarkets where wheelchair access is catered for, Bill said: “The main reason I came here today is to draw your attention to the problems people with disabilities are having. The reasons for it and the easy adjustments that can be made to get round these barriers. Portable ramps can be used and also you can have an alarm which can go in the window of the shop. The person in the wheelchair can press the alarm and a person from the shop will come out with a ramp to allow access to the premises.”
Discussion followed about various access experiences, both positive and negative. Aileen said: “It’s not just about the physical side of it, it’s also about the service – the reception that you get when you get to a place.”
Following the presentation, Bill asked Community Council participation to help improve the situation in Ellon, to which everyone agreed.
For further information about access issues, call (01467) 629909 or visit www.aberdeenshiredisabilityaction.org.