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Introducing CAT Panel Member: Shail Patel

By 6 June 2024June 10th, 2024No Comments

Shail Patel is an independent accessibility consultant based in Somerset.  He has a degenerative neurological condition and uses a wheelchair.  A lover of the outdoors, he is a member of Disabled Ramblers and is passionate about ‘walking with wheels’. 

His voluntary work involves him in a variety of access projects, from re-designing rural barriers to enable wheelchair users to enjoy countryside paths, to discussing the impact traffic limitation schemes in rural areas could have on disabled drivers.    

“There are so many access issues when it comes to disabled people both getting to the countryside and enjoying it once they are there,” he said. 

“As a disabled person, it often takes longer for me to arrange transport than taking the journey itself. To access the countryside, public transport is often non-existent and parking is an issue. Transporting or hiring appropriate mobility devices can also be a deal-breaker.  

“Seven million people in the UK need a mobility device to go one kilometre.  There are fewer than one million devices available so 90% of people who need one, can’t get one.” 

Shail is currently advocating for walkers with wheels in discussions about whether to close a road through Cheddar Gorge in Somerset once a month during the summer.  

“It could be a unique opportunity to access an iconic beauty spot, but it might also disadvantage disabled people who use the B-road for their day-to-day affairs. It may need some extra provision of support.” 

Shail joined the CAT panel and has also taken part in an ‘Expert by Experience’ session for ncat.   

“The CAT panel is important because it’s about grounding the project in issues,” he said.  “It would be great if more disabled people sign up because everyone’s experiences are different, and we must have our voices heard.”  

If you are interested in joining the CAT panel and getting your voice heard, just click on the link below to go through to our sign up page.