2. Consultation

Table of contents

2.1. Co-Creationism in Planning and Projects

As diverse a range as possible of ‘Disabled People’s Organizations’ (DPOs) must be closely engaged with from, as near as practicable to, the concept stage of any plan, and consultation maintained at every stage of the process. Priority in consultations must be given at all times to the views of DPOs over those of disability service-providers and all other civil society groups (see 16.1).

Consultation should aim to deliver a clear and mutually agreed design approach including ongoing involvement of DPOs at all stages from creation to detailed design stages.

2.2. Public Notifications

Without prejudice to 2.1, authorities need to make particular effort (beyond usual notices) to make sure that all DPOs are aware of consultation periods and closing dates for observations etc.

2.3. Access to Realtime Consultations or Meetings

The form of realtime consultations must be accessible to and agreed by each DPO representative. This may include the following:

  • The existence of an alternative accessible real-time online or phone form of participation (e.g., using software such as Facetime, Zoom, Skype Business etc.). Where the disability stakeholder does not have such software, and where it costs money, the statutory body should make sure the DPO representative is not out of pocket for the acquisition of such software.
  • Where physical meetings are agreeable to a DPO representative, there should be payment of travel costs to and from a realtime consultation by the statutory body, and provision of accessible lodgings (including travel costs to and from such lodgings) where consultations require a representative to be away from home overnight, and where this is acceptable to the DPO representative.

2.4. Consultation in Outsourced Contracts

Where any service (including reports and actual construction) is outsourced, DPOs need to be consulted as to the recommended accessibility-related specifications, and where tender is involved, this consultation needs to happen before the work is advertised (Disability Act, S27).

2.5. Authentic Consultation – no box-ticking

All consultations must be genuine and meaningful, not a box-ticking exercise.

2.6. Human Rights Are Not Dependent on Public Opinion

This also means that consultation should not be confused with surveys or majoritarian approaches to feedback. Human Rights such as access to society and environment by disabled people are absolutes, and not dependent on opinion polls, just as they are not expendable because of a vocal and powerful minority of well-meaning ablists (i.e., in the best case scenario).

Currently, under the cover of covid, a Vocal minority are successfully pushing the cyclocentric agenda, but the marginalized pedestrian remains as marginalized as they have always been, except that they are lumped in with the cyclists to serve the agenda of the latter – a particularly dangerous case of willed illusion. Each mode has totally differing interests (i.e., one is a vehicle, and the other is not). If they are treated the same, then the safety of both is threatened. Disabled people are like the canary in the mine, and are hyper-sensitive to these real threats.

Just as the expert safety concerns of a civil engineer in looking at the plans for a bridge should not be relegated to public opinion, the same applies to the safety of disabled people in all plans, but with DPOs as experts. In other words, disabled people, (through their representative DPOs), are the foremost experts in safety for vulnerable pedestrians, and so, in such matters their views need to be given proportional weight through a distinct consultation process (cf. 16.1).