Co-design of a roadworks ramp to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities

Project Outline/Introduction

Roadworks can be particularly challenging for people who are Deaf or disabled to navigate. The existing roadworks ramps have been identified as being problematic for this section of the community. Melba Swintex co-designed a new ramp (The Right Ramp) with a panel of people with disabilities that addressed most of the concerns about the traditional ramp.

 

Key research questions

  • Can a roadworks ramp be designed that enhanced access for pedestrians navigating roadworks that block footpaths?
  • Can this ramp address the varied needs of people with a range of impairments such that all disabled pedestrians can safely navigate roadworks?

Research design and outputs

Melba Swintex worked with UEA and a small steering group of disabled people to create the initial design for the roadworks ramp. UK Power Networks and Transport for London then commissioned an evaluation of the new ramp with a panel of people with a wide range of impairments, and who used a range of aids, to ensure its safety and utility. Two consultations were held. The first in Norwich consulted 16 Deaf and disabled people. The panel had mobility impairments, visual impairments (partial sight), autism and deafness (which can impact on balance and how they interpret the environment). The panel used a variety of manual and electric wheelchairs, scooters, crutches, walking sticks, an assistance dog, and carers to navigate the roadworks. Some minor suggestions were made to the ramp design and these were implemented and evaluated at a London consultation event with a panel of 12 Deaf and disabled people. As these changes impacted most on people with visual impairments and wheelchair users, the London panel was dominated by these impairments; we had people who are totally blind and use canes, people with partial vision, and electric and manual wheelchair users.

We believe the Right Ramp works well for all disabilities and the Deaf community, for kerbs between 75mm-125mm height for urgent roadworks. The ramp facilitates access for all and represents an improvement of the “old” style of ramp. As it sits on road surface rather than balancing on the kerb it is substantially more stable and robust than traditional ramps. The tap rails on the sides are helpful for people with visual impairments who use a cane to navigate. However they are low enough that wheels can easily roll over them without any tip hazard. Finally the ramp has an anti-slip pattern embossed on the surface.

the research team

  • PI – Dr Katherine Deane, Senior Lecturer in Research, HSC, UEA.
  • External Collaborators:
  • Tom Fadden, CEO Purple Reach Disability Consultants
  • Phil Hyman; Melba Swintex
  • Kelvin Lee; UK Power Networks

funding

The ramp design and evaluation was funded by a £10K consultancy from UK Power Networks and Transport for London.