Waterford County Consultation Strategy re the development of the Disability Action Plan.
Representatives of key disability organizations and staff members with a disability were invited to participate in the Barcelona Declaration Team. (BDT) Chaired by an elected member, the BDT were instrumental in organizing the initial audits of facilities and services. The Disability Groups assisted with the consultation process through engaging with their members and inviting them to advise on specific buildings, locations and services. E.g. The National Council for the Blind audited both the county council and the Library websites.
However, when drawing up an action plan to meet our requirements under the Disability Act 2005, it was agreed that a more formal cross departmental structure was required. It was agreed to establish an internal Disability Implementation Team led by the Housing Corporate and Emergency Services Directorate and the development of an external Disability Consultative Forum. The Community and Enterprise Section were charged with the development of this forum in collaboration with County Waterford Community Forum.
Commitment & Networks
Waterford County Council is committed to consulting with all stakeholders to ensure efficient and effective delivery of its services. Consultation is seen as a vital part in the process of implementation, monitoring and review. The primary network used for the initial consultation was the two established disability networks of the Health Services Executive. (HSE) This combined city and county network agreed to act as a core consultative group to Waterford County Council.
Waterford City and County Childcare Committees supported the development of a new group addressing a range of issues affecting children with a disability. “Parents of Children with a Disability”, have done much to raise awareness of the issues facing children, in particular, access to city based services for families living in rural West Waterford.
These networks will continue to be used as methods and channels of collaboration, providing feedback on priority accessibility issues and identification of practical solutions. These networks will ensure that our obligations under the Disability Act 2005 and our commitment to making Waterford a more accessible environment are met.
Progress to Date
This section provides a summary of the consultation process engaged in to date;
- Directors of Services Meeting around the implications, commitments and objectives contained in the Disability Act 2005 took place early in 2006. It was the starting point for the implementation of our programme around disability and accessibility.
- Linkages formed with the Social Inclusion Measures Working Group (SIMWG) of the CDB established agreement to work with the HSE networks and the County Childcare Committee.
- Presentations were given to the County Development Board, the SIMWG, the Senior Management Team, two Strategic Policy Committees, in the initial stages to ensure a level of awareness of our obligations and to initiate the process of consultation and coordination between service providers, the Local Authorities and the wider community.
- The Community and Enterprise Section issued Invitations to representatives from the Disability Organisations’ to attend when Audits were being carried out on sites. They also compiled a database of Disability Groups at regional and local level.
- The Draft Implementation Plan was produced for consultation in September 2008.
- The Draft Implementation Plan was put on the website as a news item with links to the e-mail address of the Access Officer for Comments/Suggestions.
- Copies of the Draft Implementation Plan and the copies of the audits were placed in the libraries of both Dungarvan and Tramore town.
- We now intend to take this plan back out to the community for further consultation. We envisage this plan as a “working document”. A template to deliver the actions as set out in the action plan. However, these proposed actions need to be “disability proofed,” by the Disability Sector.
- We now intend to hold a Public Consultation seminar early in November 2008. This seminar will be hosted by the Community Forum. Key local authority staff and staff of other CDB agencies will attend.
- This seminar will assist Waterford County Council and the Community Forum in relation to the setting up of an updated database on local disability organisations/groups/representatives which will act as a further resource in disseminating information for future consultation.
County Development Board
The County Development Board has led to new ways of working which have contributed greatly to integrated development. The development of Strategic Policy Committees in 2000 has created firm links with Waterford County Council, as the Chairpersons of each SPC forms the Corporate Policy Group of the Waterford County Council. This is important in terms of policy information and information dissemination across both organisations. The decision to include accessibility/disability under the remit of the Housing, Corporate and Emergency Services, Strategic Policy Committee ensures a formal structure for review, reporting and monitoring of the disability strategy.