Approximately 20 percent of London's population are disabled. The percentage includes those with sensory impairments, those who are blind, partially sighted, deaf or hearing impaired. For many people with sensory impairments, access to local services is limited. PAL, in cooperation with Knott Architects, developed a tactile model that can assist those who are blind or partially-sighted to understand planning concepts.
PAL secured £20,000 from the Government as part of a "learning revolution" spearheaded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to pilot the tactile model. In February and March 2010, PAL ran a series of training sessions for blind and partially-sighted people and those who work with them to 'road test' the first generation tactile model. The sessions covered a range of topics, including:
- An introduction to Town Planning
- The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Town Planning
- The duties ofplanners with regard disabled people
- Access officers and access groups
- Access and Design Statements
- Commenting on planning applications
- Section 106 agreements
The course provided an opportunity for participants to learn about town planning and regeneration and to meet local authority planners and access officers. It also provided an opportunity for feedback on the construction and functionality of the first generation model, so that improvements can be built into the second generation model. The second generation model is a resource that can be used in future community involvement and consultation activities.