Top prize winners for young disabled people’s video from Newcastle

photos by Richard Shepherd

CREATIVE youngsters have triumphed in a Big Lottery funded national competition on accessible transport for young disabled people.

Students from the Percy Hedley Foundation’s specialist college in Newcastle clinched top prize, with their 5×5 seconds video about the transport difficulties getting about in their ‘home’ suburb of Jesmond.

The talented foursome, Jill Morrison, Tom Bell, Jordan Skidmore and Kyle Mitcheson, have scooped a fully-accessible holiday to Brittany, France.

It shows student Jill, 19, from Consett in County Durham, heading out to meet a friend for coffee and taking a tumble from her mobility chair, after an inconsiderate driver blocks a dropped kerb.

Local news reports on the frightening accident, with students taking the roles of witnesses and news reporters.

One of the competition judges, accessibility expert Maria Zedda, handed out the holiday prize to delighted students, during an informal ceremony at the Foundation’s college, which caters for young people with special needs, aged 16 to 23-years-old.

They were also presented with four ‘Trabasacks’ – handy specially-designed lap tray bags.

Speaking about the video, Maria said: “I was really impressed by their creativity and their approach. It really did look like they were having fun.”
The competition was open to disabled young people across the UK as part of Connect Culture’s, a disabled people lead community group, Moving On: Accessible Transport, the past, present and future conference in Coventry to be part of the Round Table discussion. It included accessible transport campaigners and experts, academics, and policy advisor as well as a video from Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson.

Maria , whose works includes helping to take railway stations more accessible, added: “The students’ film for me was very significant, because it demonstrates how a little feature of the built environment can be a very big access difficulty for disabled people.”

Student Jordan Skidmore, 18, from Fenham in Newcastle, summed it up for the youngsters when he said: “We were having a great time. It was really fun.”

• With thanks to Duncan Edwards, from Trabasack and Jacqui Alban, from, for donating competition prizes.

- report by Jane Taylor

Kirsten Hearn: “Why disabled people’s direct action was good for all transport users”

(.mp3 of audio available)

Moving On : Accessible Transport, the past, present and the future Round Table

Kirsten Hearn Kirsten Hearn  is a keen traveller and did a solo journey to Spain with public transport.

She spoke on

 ”Why disabled people’s direct action was good for all transport users”

(transcript text from Kirsten)

I’m going to name check some significant players in the struggle for accessible transport.  Well it is DHM!

I’ll start by quoting a song: with grateful thanks to Elaine Kolb who wrote “We Will Ride “which I then mangled to be relevant to a British Disability Rights scene.

“Far too many people have been locked away too long.
We won’t accept excuses, right is right and wrong is wrong.
Still the state believes that we should live on charity.
But we’re not going to take this anymore, we will be free.

And we will ride, we will ride.
We have strength and truth and justice on our side.
For united we will fight, defending human rights,
we will ride we will ride.”

Defending human rights: The right to ride, the freedom of movement is a fundamental human right.  It is also the key to wider participation and inclusion.  If we can’t ride, we can’t take up education, employment, training, health treatments.  We can’t exercise our democratic rights, we can’t build and maintain a family and social network, we can’t in truth be part of this world.

A functioning, affordable accessible transport system is the life blood of our country.  It’s effectiveness governs our prosperity, amongst other things. I’m a Londoner, who travelled daily since I was five, on inaccessible and dangerous route masters, and from the age of 11, on overland trains and the underground too.  As a partially sighted child, my biggest challenges were knowing which bus or train was arriving and knowing where to get off.  Some people would say I still don’t know where to get off!

Maybe 1 in 4 of the population is disabled, many more are also older.  It’s quite “normal” to travel with children in buggies or with heavy luggage.  for All these people, using our transport systems can be a significant barrier, if not impossible.

In 1982 disabled people sat down in the road outside Stoke Mandoville Hospital.  We were protesting against the participation in the Paralympics games of South Africa.  Alongside me on the tarmac were Keith Armstrong, and the late Vic finklestein South African born disabled activists.

I quite liked sitting in the road.  about that time, I did it again and again as a woman at Greenham   Common, protesting against nuclear proliferation.  There was something about putting my body in harm’s way for a cause that mattered to me that made me feel like I was doing something.  It was a visceral antidote to the feeling of hopelessness I felt over the hostility of the world towards disabled people, women, lesbians and all other marginalised groups.   For I had recently discovered that being disabled wasn’t the problem, it was the way the world is designed.

Another comrade in struggle, the late wonderful Bryan Heiser responded to transport accessibility by developing a parallel transport system.  Dial-A-Ride freed many people to ride who had never done so before.  But free our people was one of the disabled people’s movement’s demands.  We wanted to travel like ordinary people rather than witness the world, second hand through the window of a special bus.  For us, this smacked of further segregation.

Keith Armstrong went to Denver and went on an accessible bus.  He joined disability rights activists in further protests about accessible transport, meeting Elaine Kolb, who originally wrote “we Will Ride” as an anthem of that movement.

“The world is inconvenienced by disability.
But we have human rights and we are aiming to be free. Riding public transport is one way to get around.
So minister of transport hear us now, we’re freedom bound.”

Inspired by this, Ruth Bashall, a transport campaigner, disabled dyke and mother, along with Tracey Proudlock (then Tracey Boothe) and the late  Steve Crib decided enough was enough.  This apartheid transport system had to go.  They organised the campaign for accessible transport, and, getting bored of meetings went out onto the street.

I’d recently acquired temporary mobility impairment.  A badly broken leg left me having difficulty in walking any distance.  Buses, tubes and trains were no longer accessible to me.  But I was also fired by the justice of the matter.  I joined CAT and we sat down in the road.

We didn’t just sit down in the road, we caught buses and held them captive.  We bought central London to a standstill.


After a while, the authorities could not ignore what was going on.  They nicked us.  They carried us up steps into inaccessible police stations, and then inaccessible courts.  This made for fantastic pictures on the evening news.  charges were dropped but the transport planners were in a bit of a flurry.  Our activity spurred on the legitimate crips with their campaigning who lobbied and agitated for fairer treatment.


Spinning on ten years.  In 2000, Ken Livingstone was elected Mayor of London.  Dealing with London’s transport system was high on his agenda.  Initially waxing sentimentally about the iconicness of the route master, he was soon persuade to change his mind by his newly appointed transport advisor Bryan Heiser, his newly appointed board member me, and the vice chair of the transport for London board, another transport activist, Dave Wetzel.  We suggested that the bus contracts should be changed and a commitment to an accessible bus fleet be a criteria for choosing the successful contractor.

In a matter of years, London had the largest accessible low floor  fleet in the world.  At last, Londoners had the right to ride.  We altered contracts further to require that the buses talked and had real-time audio visual travel info on them.  We also put in place a programme of accessibility to the tube and the over ground and worked with rail track and the train operating companies, via Alice Maynard and others to influence accessible train development. Anbd then Boris came along … and slashed the tube  accessibility programme.

We’ve since had the buggy wars.  Accessible buses helped those with small children ride too.  But the ruling that wheelchair users have priority, for you can bold up a baby but you can’t fold up a wheelchair user has prevailed.

“We are here to tell you just exactly what we’ll do.
We’re fighting for the right to move in freedom just like you.
Let every kind of people have the power to be free.
To  live and learn, and move and work and love, and vote with dignity.

Kirsten Hearn 23rd November 2013 , for Moving On MOAT 13 DHM

Video interview with Sarah Rennie: accessible transport to follow from accessible restaurants logical for Connect Culture

Sarah was referring to the guide “Our Top Ten Accessible Restaurants in Coventry and Warwickshire

There is an accompanying website with this guide.




I’m Sarah Rennie. I work for a Social Enterprise called The Wisdom Factory. I’m also a member of Connect Culture with Eleanor and I got involved with Connect Culture because Eleanor asked me to eat in a lot of restaurants and then review it which I thought was an offer I couldn’t really refuse.

So what we were looking at there was accessible independent restaurants in Coventry & Warwickshire that were really really good for access and were a nice place to go and eat because a lot of the time when you end up going to chains just because you know what to expect which is boring and they’re not always the nicest food or the nicest atmosphere so we were looking at really nice restaurants that were independent but that were also accessible but one of the things that was really important that we realised was it’s not just about “How many steps has it got?”, but you know, “What’s the acoustics like?” Also about the transport and getting to it because sometimes that can be a barrier in itself. So as part of the guide we looked at all the different transport options, “Are there taxis in the area?”, that gave them points where they got to in the top ten.

Ok so one of the key things we were looking at was bus routes and how far bus stops were away from the restaurant, “Were there any disabled parking bays nearby? What were the train routes like? Did they have any accessible taxis in the area?” All of those factors were barriers in itself. If you couldn’t get there you couldn’t access the restaurant and the restaurants need to be aware of that.

Some of the restaurants were really positive and the fact that they were in the guide at all they were really chuffed about that but one of the things that was part of the process was communicating this information to the restaurants because one of the barriers is about getting information and making it easier and more inviting to go there so if you’re able to tell the restaurant, “Can you just put this information on your website under an access page?” then you’re instantly going to make life easier and make yourself more attractive to your potential customers.

Video: Moving On: Accessible Transport

Many thanks to all who came and made it such a successful day. Please send in comments to

Description of video

Eleanor Lisney, MOAT coordinator, is interviewed by a young journalism student. “We’re organising this event for Moving On Accessible Transport – the Past, the Present and the Future.”

Black and white photograph panels of mobility vehicles and people using them from the past displayed.

A disabled man in an electric wheelchair is looking at the three wheeled mobility vehicle in front of a display of black and white panels in the background.

Young disabled woman in an electric wheelchair looking at trabasacks on Trabasack stall with others.

Connect Culture display banner shown ‘Connect culture is about building an inclusive world, bringing people and cultures together’ with URLs – and Assess4Access Clips of visitors milling around the exhibition area. Family with young children looking at mobility vehicles from the past.

Clip of delegates (including a row of young Chinese students) in a conference room listening to Richard Rieser, leading a seminar on Disability History Month.

Clip of speakers at the Round Table discussion – Eleanor Lisney, Kirsten Hearn, Zara Todd, Richard Rieser, Andree Woodcock, Rob Imrie, Christiane Link and participants, Robert Punton, Rita Norman discussing issues raised from the floor. Clip of Connect Culture members Sarah Rennie, Emma Round and Eleanor Lisney (wheelchair users) in conversation.


Video: Rob Imrie on universal design and shared space

My name is Rob Imrie and I work in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London.

For the last thirty years or so I’ve been running research projects investigating disability, disableism in the built environment and in particular looking at the ways in which different types of disabled people are really discriminated by the design of the built environment.

I really came to this conference precisely because it’s around these kind of issues but also because of Eleanor who provided sort of an invite.

I have to say Eleanor is also part of the steering group on a project that I’m running as part of a European Research Council funding project exploring the nature of universal design and how far we can create a universally inclusively designed world.

Shared Space is a design concept that originates in the Netherlands and it was transported into the United Kingdom from round about the early 1990s but really since the mid 2000s it’s become popularised among local planning authorities to the extent that there are hundreds of different Shared Space schemes have now actually been put into place and others that are in the pipeline.

Now Shared Space essentially is the attempt to actually create a smooth environment where you actually eliminate roads and pavements into a singular surface for all users irrespective of who they are to actually use. That is to say that motor vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, different types of disabled people, all users are actually invited into that space to the point whereby there is no segregation between them. The fundamental issue of course is whether you can actually genuinely create a shared space wherein by any person irrespective of who they are has the right and ease of access and research that I’ve been doing is showing that quite clearly that vision impaired people find Shared Spaces frightening, disorientating that they are finding it impossible to use precisely because there’s a lack of legibility that is to say that the pavement has disappeared and there is no way that a guide dog cannot easily be guided along that particular environment and for vision impaired people and also for other disabled people are being put into a context that cars moving around creates a layer of danger that previously would not have existed prior to the Shared Space itself.

The research findings that I’ve actually been able to generate would suggest that far from Shared Space being shared it’s space which is increasingly being evacuated by many pedestrians but particularly by vision impaired people whereby it’s becoming more or less a car orientated automobile type of environment. That is not Shared Space as I understand it.

Video: Prize winners with an accessible transport solution

Video of the young prize winners receiving their prizes ( 2 first class train tickets from Virgin Trains and a trabsack each) and about how they made their video.

Winners with video Bus Timetable Dyslexia:

Alex Clarke
Ahmed Saidani
Joel McCormack
Areqa Nisa
Kyle Thornton
Jake Ashby
Ben Russell
Yahya Patel

This is a report from Goldsmiths University of London, Universalising Design of their video

One of the winning videos dealt with the challenges that a dyslexic person might face when engaging with poorly designed bus stop signage. The video also offered a useful inclusive design solution in the form of a touchscreen device attached to the bus stop.

Prize delivered to happy young winners of the Moving On video competition

the winners

the winners

They were too overwhelmed to pick up the prize at the museum in the day itself, we were more than happy to deliver their 2 first class Virgin train tickets and trabasacks at their school.

The winners were

Alex Clarke
Ahmed Saidani
Joel McCormack
Areqa Nisa
Kyle Thornton
Jake Ashby
Ben Russell
Yahya Patel

Their teacher, Charlie Davies, the ICT coordinator was very proud of them and said they had a lot of design ideas between them.

This is a report from Goldsmiths University of London, Universalising Design of their video

One of the winning videos dealt with the challenges that a dyslexic person might face when engaging with poorly designed bus stop signage. The video also offered a useful inclusive design solution in the form of a touchscreen device attached to the bus stop.

Bus Timetable Dyslexia from Sherbourne Fields on Vimeo.

AUDIO: ‘Leaving EU to be a huge setback for disabled people in the UK’ – Richard Rieser

Reposted from Brum Transport(Pupul Chatterjee) - many thanks!

“Our European Union membership has been of great benefit to disabled people – for instance the European Equal Employment directive. Leaving the EU will mean we will go backwards in such things”

said Richard Rieser, founder of Disability History Month.


For the text go to transcripts