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How a disability group helped with access issues at Caithness village halls


By David G Scott

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​A disability group has completed its year long project to improved access for the disabled at various village halls in Caithness.

Funded by the Greencoat Stroupster Community Fund and the Achlachan Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, administered by Foundation Scotland, the Caithness Disabled Access Panel (CDAP) has finally completed its project to help improve accessible facilities at village halls in the county.

CDAP chairperson Helen Budge said: "CDAP is hopeful that this kind of initiative will help prevent rural depopulation and promote inclusion. The improvements should stand the halls on good stead for the next two to three decades."

Helen Budge, left, and Louise Smith from the Caithness Disabled Access Panel. Picture: DGS
Helen Budge, left, and Louise Smith from the Caithness Disabled Access Panel. Picture: DGS

Covid-19 and lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 delayed the project but in the end most village halls were contacted with 11 subsequently surveyed by the group. These facilities all had the potential to take accessibility improvements forward. Groups wanting to complete funding applications to cover this type of work are encouraged to keep working with CDAP project officer, Louise Smith.

Louise said: "We visited facilities and provided community groups that run the halls with suggestions about how to improve access for the disabled as well as ideas about how best to adapt toilets."

Louise Smith says this photo of an existing accessible toilet in a village hall illustrates some of the issues, namely standalone soap dispenser on the sink which can easily be knocked to the floor; loose toilet rolls that can be knocked to the floor; and incorrect handrail positioning.
Louise Smith says this photo of an existing accessible toilet in a village hall illustrates some of the issues, namely standalone soap dispenser on the sink which can easily be knocked to the floor; loose toilet rolls that can be knocked to the floor; and incorrect handrail positioning.

Typical examples of work that has been identified by the panel include:

  • Ramps instead of steps at the entrances to halls which helps wheelchair access as well as being useful to people with prams and pushchairs.
  • Hard surfacing to car park areas instead of gravel which aids access
  • A hearing loop system that transmits an audio signal into hearing aids via a magnetic field so is invaluable to the deaf.
  • The inclusion of accessible toilets, separate ladies and men’s, where possible.

Louise can be contacted by email on louinscot@aol.com or call 07776 225 549. She and the group are happy to help out at other community buildings.

Related articles:

Caithness group tackles disability issues during Covid

Disability group aims to improve village hall access


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