Online Program

Sea of Change Film -Walking Into Trouble

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:07 a.m. - 10:12 a.m.

Sarah Gayton, BSc (Hons), MSc, CIWM, Certificate in Business Administration, Sea of Change Film, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
The film and campaign came about when a road in my hometown of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands in the United Kingdom, was subjected to the concept called shared space road design. After researching the design it became very clear that it would prevent blind and partially sighted people accessing the area independently and letters were sent to all local, regional and national levels of government to raise awareness of our concerns. These letters and our concerns were ignored and the design was implemented. 

Further research revealed that shared space road design had been implemented in other town and cities in the UK and concerns raised by blind and partially sighted on the schemes had also been ignored. A freedom of information request from the local council responsible for the Leek scheme revealed a letter from the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) had also raised concerns over the new scheme along with other letters from national charity raising concerns about the new design.

Frustrated with the lack of understanding shown for the needs of blind and partially sighted people in shared space, I turned to film to ask a simple this simple question ‘How does a blind person cross a road?’  A short film was uploaded to you tube asking this question and shared on social media for the 2012 United Nations International Day for the Person with Disabilities and people expressed concerns to this problem.  This reaction inspired me to contact the House of Lords to ask for cooperation to stage an event on for the 2013 United Nations International Day for the Person with Disabilities on this issue. Instantly we had offers of help and room was booked. Given the success of the short film to wake people up to this issue it was decided to make a film to premier at the event to help key stakeholders to understand how changes in road design prevented blind people from independently accessing them. 

So we set off to make a film on the issue and spent the next 11 months filming the problem of shared space roads in London, Warwick, Coventry, Leek, Southend-on-Sea and Lewes, and in Leeds, where shared space scheme was banned from the city.  It was critical that the same problems blind people were facing in different parts of the country were filmed, to illustrate it was not just a local problem but a national one.  Members of the National Federation of the Blind of the UK and East Sussex Blind Association were filmed and explained the actual impact of the design on them and blind community in the areas affected by the design.

The film called ‘ Sea of Change Film – Walking Into Trouble’ was successfully premiered in the House of Lords on the 3rd December 2013 with invited guests from the professional institutes of architecture, engineering, planning, law, public health, along with leading charities for blind and partially sighted people, academics, media, Lords, Baronesses and MPs. The day was pivotal to getting this issue raised with a wide stakeholder audience and to get new relationships formed and have been further developed to tackle the issue raised in the film. 

Since the premier the film has been used to raise awareness of the issue, with it being shown at the Select Transport Committee in London, the first Public Health Film Festival held by University of Oxford and many other locations across the country. Extracts of the film have also been shown on regional and national BBC news items and the film and issue has been discussed on many local BBC local radio shows.  In late 2014 the film was made public on youtube and was used in a twitter campaign to raise awareness of this issue and gained positive feedback from people who engaged with the film. 

It is hoped that by making this issue visual for who are not affected by sight loss it will make it very easy to understand the problems that shared space have created for blind people and that future designs can be designed to allow independent access for all vulnerable people in urban areas.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the key accessibility problems blind and partially sighted people face in shared space road environments.

Keyword(s): Public health or related public policy, Advocacy for health and health education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Previous work for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, the World Health Organization in Kosovo and for the Environment Agencies in the United Kingdom, led me to produce this film on the under the radar problems blind people were facing in shared space roads in the UK.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.