I (Dave) was walking to work the other morning, walking a familiar route using my long cane when I was struck on the head by a wet (it had been raining) board. Fortunately, I wasn’t walking particularly quickly (I would have been going twice the speed with Errol, my old Guide Dog) and wasn’t hurt. On observations, I worked it out to be an estate agent display/for sale board that was over hanging the pavement about 5ft 10ins, just low enough that I, being 6ft, would hit it.
The pavement at this point is pretty wide and, I guess a sighted person would have seen these boards (yes, there was more than one when I walked on) and avoided them. However, I was tracking the fence line and therefore hit them as I passed. I actually turned them 90 degrees so that they were parallel with the pavement and so that they wouldn’t hurt anyone else who may not have seen them but, on my way home the same evening, one had been turned back… as shown in the accompanying video clip.
To be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve come in to contact with such boards; they do tend to be a regular item that I hit. Other street furniture that I come across are things like tables and chairs outside cafes and restaurants, ‘A’ frames (the freestanding frames advertising shops that are put in the middle of pavements), pots of flowers, lamp posts and bollards, wheelie bins and recycling bins on bin day and all manner of vehicles.
We (blind people) are not the only people that find such street furniture a problem, people that use wheelchairs or mobility scooters have similar difficulties as do parents who have pushchairs, especially double buggies. It is frustrating and sometimes dangerous having to navigate some of these obstacles and for some blind people it could cause them to lose their bearings and get lost.
If you are someone that works in a shop or is responsible for putting out an ‘A’ frame or erecting signs, please consider the impact that it might have on others like me. Ensure that it’s not a hazard or positioned where it could cause harm.
Finally, if you need to park your car, van or lorry on a pavement, ensure that it is not blocking the pavement. You need to allow enough space for 2 people to pass side-by-side, for a wheelchair or mobility scooter or for a double buggy to get through. If there isn’t enough room then it’s not a safe place to park and you should find somewhere else to park. Saying “I’m only here for a few minutes” isn’t good enough… a few minutes is too long.
Finally, for all home owners, help make pavements wider by cutting back any hedges, shrubs or bushes to your boundary; this will help with ensuring that the maximum space is available on the pavement for pedestrians and it may allow vehicles to park on the pavement sensibly too…
Vicky: Although there are laws regarding signage (size, permission required etc) – I couldn’t find anything about requirements for height or signs overhanging the pavement. However, you would think that common sense/courtesy should prevail (although I guess we know this isn’t always the case with A frames, irresponsible pavement parking and not trimming bushes). So as Dave says, just a cry for people to be a bit more considerate.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
Interested to learn more about VIDA Training? Read about our Training and Consultancy packages, specialising in Vision Impairment and Disability Awareness, Communication and Team Building or contact us for further information.
Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.