The National Disability Strategy and the Disability Act 2005 puts in place a strong framework that seeks to make significant and long - term improvements to the lives of people with physical, sensory or intellectual impairments. Significant responsibilities have been put on each public sector organisation to ensure that services being provided to the public are accessible to all, including the availability of accessible information for disabled people.
Our external customers are any individual, business, government department, statutory body or community to whom the Waterford County Local Authorities provide a service.
Our internal customers are individual members of staff, departments and the elected members of Waterford County Local Authorities.
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What does the Legislation say?
28.—(1) Where a public body communicates with one or more
persons, the head of the body shall ensure—
(a) if the communication is an oral one and the person or persons aforesaid has a hearing impairment and so requests, or
(b) if the communication is a written one and the person or persons aforesaid has a visual impairment and so requests, that, as far as practicable, the contents of the communication are communicated in a form that is accessible to the person concerned.
(2) Where a public body communicates in electronic form with one or more persons, the head of the body shall ensure, that as far as practicable, the contents of the communication are accessible to persons with a visual impairment to whom adaptive technology is available.
(3) The head of a public body shall ensure, as far as practicable,
that information published by the body, which contains information relevant to persons with intellectual disabilities, is in clear language that is easily understood by those persons.
(4) This section shall come into operation on 31 December 2005.
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What Communications are covered?
In accordance with section 28 of the Disability Act 2005, communications by a public body to a person with a hearing or visual impairment must, as far as practicable, be provided in an accessible format, following a request.
Information provided electronically must, as far as practicable, be compatible with adaptive technology.
Published information, relevant to persons with intellectual disabilities, must be made available in easy to read formats.
The NDA (National Disability Authority) has produced further information on how Public Sector organisations should respond to these requirements.
The NDA Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies.
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What is our Policy?
Waterford County Local Authorities are committed to communicating effectively with all their customers including disabled customers and will consult regularly with end-users to establish their communication needs. We will try to ensure that assistance is given to people with disabilities to access information on the wide range of services that are provided by the local authorities by means of the following:-
1) Where it is practical and where funding permits, the organisation will ensure that information provided to the public is available in an accessible format, for example
a) Accessible HTML
b) Large Print
c) Easy-to-Read format
e) Audio file
and other formats, if requested. Oral communications as far as practicable, will be made accessible to individuals with hearing impairments by use of Irish Sign Language and video clips.
All new publications will be written in as clear and jargon free a language as possible. We will mostly provide them in a secured Word format which is readable by screen readers. We will ensure that existing core documents are available on request in a wide range of accessible formats. Where it is not possible to provide the entire document in accessible format, the Executive Summary will be provided in this format. We will offer alternative methods of support where possible and practicable, if the requested format cannot be provided.
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Waterford County Local Authorities will:
a) Ensure that all new documentation is completed in line with accessibility standards.
b) Use Guidelines drawn up by the Disability Implementation Team to develop best practice in writing and producing documents. The NDA Guidelines “First Steps in Producing Accessible Publications” and the RNIB’s “See it Right” Guidelines will be used as reference points for completion of such documents (see resources list at the end of this document).
c) Avail of the expertise of reputed and experienced organisations involved in the conversion of documents to alternative format to ensure full accessibility is achieved wherever possible.
d) Advertise the availability of information in accessible formats to staff and members of the public.
e) Establish a procedure for people to request information in accessible formats. Advertise the availability of this service and ensure that all staff are trained in the receipt and delivery of such requests.
f) Ensure that all information and documents available on our website(s) is available in a format that can be used in conjunction with adaptive technology.
g) Waterford County Local Authorities will consider providing certain documents in core foreign languages.
3) Names of Access Officers will be available and how they may be contacted, so that staff and the general public are aware of them and know how to contact them.
4) All relevant staff in the Waterford County Local Authorities will undergo an Equality/ Diversity Awareness Training Programme, in compliance with NDA guidelines, to educate them on issues dealing with people with disabilities.
5) Irish Sign language interpreters will be provided for interviews, public meetings and other events where necessary and on receipt of request in advance.
6) Continued Development of Information Communications Technology. The main websites of Waterford County Local Authorities include:
All of the content pages in these sites are designed and developed in accordance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 1.0) and conform to all Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints (AA Compliance) and most Priority 3 checkpoints (AAA Compliance).
Sister sites include:
For more information on the accessibility of these websites associated with Waterford County Local Authorities, please refer to the relevant accessibility statement on each individual website.
Waterford County Local Authorities will continue to maintain and improve usability and accessibility of its public websites, the staff Intranet and any extranet developed.
7) Waterford County Local Authorities are committed to improving procedures for creating and publishing accessible information.
8) Waterford County Local Authorities will work towards ensuring that all public computers, kiosks and other public access terminals in place are compliant with the NDA Accessibility Guidelines.
9) Waterford County Local Authorities will ensure that staff will have access to learning Irish Sign Language. Once trained, they will be available to staff and members of the public on request. Until staff are trained to a adequate level of proficiency, Irish Sign Language interpreters will need to be requested in advance.
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How will we know if the Policy is Working?
10) The policy will be evaluated regularly by the Disability Implementation Team and the Information Access Officer.
Local Authority staff will:
a) Keep a record of requests for information in alternative formats
b) Keep a record of requests for information in alternative languages.
c) Review demand for information in alternative formats.
d) Request and consider feedback received from the public on the usefulness and benefit of providing information in an accessible format.
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Who to contact?
We have established a Complaints Procedure under the Disability Act 2005. This allows for complaints to be made by people with disabilities accessing Waterford County Council services, information etc. It is managed by the Council’s Inquiry Officer and is linked to the Customer Action Plan and the Complaints & Appeals Procedures. You can contact the Inquiry Officer, Tess O’Brien at 058 20886 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other key public contact persons available within the organisation for assistance for people with disabilities and people with disability queries are: -
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The NDA Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies
NALA Plain English Guidelines