In May 2023, Disability Equality Scotland, a leading disabled people’s organisation, embarked on a visit to Lochaber Access Panel in Fort William. This insightful encounter took place at An Drochaid, where the Access Panel diligently reviewed planning applications and gathered invaluable feedback for the local authority and had invited staff members Ian and Calum along to visit. Furthermore, Ian, Equality and Access Manager from Disability Equality Scotland, provided an update on the organisation’s recent work. This meeting not only underscored the importance of collaboration but also emphasised the shared commitment to fostering disability equality within communities.
Building Inclusive Communities through Collaborative Efforts:
The Access Panel’s crucial role in reviewing planning applications is integral to ensuring that infrastructure developments align with accessibility standards and consider the needs of disabled people. By actively engaging with the panel, Disability Equality Scotland aimed to foster a constructive dialogue that would lead to the creation of more inclusive environments.
Reviewing Planning Applications: Promoting Universal Accessibility:
During the visit, the Access Panel scrutinised various planning applications, evaluating them through a disability lens. Their expertise and insights are invaluable in shaping public spaces and facilities that are accessible to all members of the community. By working closely with the panel, Disability Equality Scotland demonstrated its commitment to fostering disability equality by actively participating in the planning and decision-making process. Together, they sought to ensure that infrastructure developments prioritise universal accessibility, thereby facilitating equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
Collating Feedback for the Local Authority: Amplifying Community Voices:
The Access Panel’s role extends beyond reviewing applications. They also act as a conduit for community feedback, consolidating valuable input and conveying it to the local authority. By collating feedback from individuals with disabilities and their advocates, the Access Panel provides a vital platform for community voices to be heard. Disability Equality Scotland’s involvement in this process further bolstered the representation of disability issues, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced and the changes required to promote inclusivity.
Ian’s Update: Highlighting Disability Equality Scotland’s Ongoing Work:
During the visit, Ian, a representative from Disability Equality Scotland, shared an update on the organisation’s recent work. This update allowed the Access Panel members to gain insights into the wide-ranging initiatives undertaken by Disability Equality Scotland to advance disability rights and promote inclusive practises. Ian’s report showcased the organisation’s dedication to improving accessibility in various domains, including transportation, employment, education, and public services. Through this exchange, both parties fostered a deeper understanding of the collective efforts required to create a society that values and supports individuals with disabilities.
The visit by Disability Equality Scotland to Lochaber Access Panel in May 2023 was a significant step towards achieving disability equality and fostering inclusive communities in Lochaber. By collaborating with the panel, Disability Equality Scotland reaffirmed its commitment to actively support Access Panels across Scotland and amplify the voices of disabled people. The valuable feedback and insights gathered by the Access Panel will undoubtedly contribute to the development of more accessible environments in Fort William. This visit stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the shared goal of building a society that embraces and empowers everyone, regardless of their abilities.