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Campaigner calls for advertising board ban across Wales

A-boards pose significant barriers to blind and partially sighted people living independent lives, as they are often difficult to see and can cause significant injury if collided with.

A partially sighted South Wales woman is campaigning to get street advertising boards banned across Wales.

Angharad Padget-Jones, 26, from Port Talbot, is registered as severely sight impaired and says that advertising A-boards severely impact blind and partially sighted people, making it harder for them to maintain their independence.

Angharad is campaigning for a nationwide ban with support from RNIB Cymru and has submitted a petition to the National Assembly for Wales which received over 80 signatures. The petition will be reviewed by the Petitions Committee this year.

A-boards are commonly found on pavements outside shops and cafes. They can pose a significant problem for blind and partially sighted people as they severely limit street access, putting people at increased risk of trips and falls.

Simulated A-boards showing how difficult these boards are to see if you are living with sight loss:

A-boards often force people with sight loss or other mobility issues to walk on the road to avoid them, risking serious injury. As they are rarely in fixed positions, blind and partially sighted people often cannot rely on pre-learned routes, which limits the extent to which they can walk confidently and safely on the street.

There are currently 111,000 people living with sight loss in Wales and this number is set to double by 2050. A-boards are not currently banned in Wales, but regulations regarding their use vary across Welsh councils.

A year-long trial ban on A-boards and temporary on-street advertising was launched in Edinburgh in November 2018. A review by Edinburgh Council’s Transport and Environment Committee found that the ban was successful in making the city’s streets more accessible and recommended that it remained in place.

Angharad said: “Most people with reduced mobility are affected by A-boards, whether they are blind or partially sighted, in a wheelchair or pushing a pram. As I lost my sight, I kept tripping over them and injuring myself. It is hard to get about when there are A-boards propped against every building and being blown around. Walking down the street feels like an obstacle course.

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“The A-board ban in Edinburgh has been so successful. I visited the city twice in the last year. It was the first time I went independently with my guide dog and I felt much safer on the streets there than I do in my home town.

“The world can be a scary place when you can’t see, and this is one small thing Welsh businesses and councils can do to make it feel safer for people with disabilities. We have the infrastructure in Wales to make our streets more accessible. We need a nationwide ban and for each council to enforce it.

“I am thrilled to have received so much support for the petition from the public and Welsh Assembly members. I look forward to the Assembly discussing the petition in the New Year and moving forward with this issue.”

RNIB Cymru Campaigns Officer Kirsty James said: “All pavement obstructions have adverse effects on blind and partially sighted people because they make getting around harder. The more difficult it is to get around, the less freedom and opportunity people have to participate in their local community and contribute to society. We will continue to support Angharad with her important campaign and hope to see real change from the Welsh Assembly in the new year.”

RNIB Cymru is calling for all local authorities in Wales to explore the following options, working with blind and partially sighted people:

  • Conduct audits and introduce a zero-tolerance policy to A-boards.
  • Produce clear guidelines for businesses.
  • Work with local blind and partially sighted people to monitor and mitigate the impact of any temporary obstructions that appear on the highway.
  • Work with local business owners to make them realise how advertising-boards cause real difficulties for blind and partially sighted people and to consider alternative forms of advertising.

For more information about Angharad’s petition visit:http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=25535

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