County Waterford, Ireland
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Disability Act Implementation Plan 2009Tweet
What we are going to do
This document describes how we will put our disability plan into action. This page is split into chapters to help you find the information you want. Click on the links below, or you can download the whole plan here Disability Act 2005 Implementation Plan (word .doc, 6,777 kbs) - please be aware this is a large file.
Since the 1970s the philosophy for society’s interaction with disabled people has undergone a change. The out-dated Victorian medical model, whereby medical devices and techniques were used in order to accommodate, in as far as possible, disabled people into the environment in which they lived, has been slowly replaced by a social model, whereby environments and services are provided in a way that enables all people to participate in the social and economic activities for which the built environment is intended.
The movement gained pace throughout the 1980s and 1990s and in Ireland the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities was established on 29th November 1993. Its main terms of reference were to advice the Government on practical measures necessary to ensure that people with a disability could exercise their right to participate, to the fullest extent of their potential, in economic, social and cultural life, to examine the situation of people with disabilities and the organisation and adequacy of existing services to meet their needs, and to make recommendations setting out necessary changes, in legislation, policies, organisation, practices and structures to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met in a cohesive, comprehensive and cost effective way. Its report, “A Strategy for Equality” was published on 18th November 1996 and contained 402 recommendations. Several pieces of legislation followed, including the Employment Equality Act 1998, the Equal Status Act 2000, the Equality Act 2004 and the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004.
On 21st September 2004 Minister for Justice, Equity and Law Reform Willie O'Dea launched the National Disability Strategy, stating that “The National Disability Strategy will build on the existing strong legislative and infrastructural framework for equality. The Strategy adds to that framework of new supports for people with disabilities and establishes rights to assessments and services in the health and education sectors. The Strategy also gives statutory effect to the policy of mainstreaming public service provision for people with disabilities - a policy launched by An Taoiseach on an administrative basis four years ago in June, 2000.” The Strategy contains four key elements, namely:
Part 3 of the Disability Act 2005 (Sections 24 to 40) deals with “access to Buildings and Services and Sectoral Plans”. Part (3) (a) of Section 25 states that “buildings, which are public buildings on the commencement of this section or which become public buildings after such commencement, shall be brought into compliance with Part M (unless the building is already required to be so compliant) not later than 31 December 2015.” A public building is defined in this part as “a building, or that part of a building, to which members of the public generally have access and which is occupied, managed or controlled by a public body.”
(a) where practicable and appropriate, ensure that the provision of access to the service by persons with and persons without disabilities is integrated,
(b) where practicable and appropriate, provide for assistance, if requested, to persons with disabilities in accessing the service if the head is satisfied that such provision is necessary in order to ensure compliance with paragraph (a), and
(c) where appropriate, ensure the availability of persons with appropriate expertise and skills to give advice to the body about the means of ensuring that the service provided by the body is accessible to persons with disabilities.”
Part 2 of the same section covers the idea of an Access Officer, stating “Each head of a public body referred to in subsection (1) shall authorise at least one of his or her officers (referred to in this Act as “access officers”) to provide or arrange for and co-ordinate the provision of assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities in accessing its services.”
Section 27 (1) reinforces the requirement for the provision of accessible services, stating “where a service is provided to a public body, the head of the body shall ensure that the service is accessible to persons with disabilities.” Section 28 deals with access to information, stating:
(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,
(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.”
Section 31 of the Act introduces the concept of Sectoral Plans, stating that each of six ministers of specified Government Departments “shall prepare and publish a plan (referred to in this Act as a ‘sectoral plan’) in relation to the matters specified in sections 32 to 37 outlining the programme of the measures proposed to be taken by or on behalf of the Minister of the Government concerned for and in relation to those matters as they relate to the provision of services to persons with specified disabilities by him or her or by public bodies or other persons in relation to which he or she performs functions or allocates moneys under section 5 .”
(a) appropriate information concerning codes of practice (if any) and regulations (if any) relating to the subject matter of the plan,
(b) the complaints procedure to be provided by a public body or by other persons in relation to any matters which are the subject of the plan,
(c) monitoring and review procedures in relation to the subject matter of the plan,
(d) a statement of the intervals at which reports shall be prepared relating to the progress made in the implementation of the plan, being intervals of not more than 3 years from the date of the publication of the plan under this section,
(e) if appropriate, the level of access relating to the services specified in the plan, and
(f) such other matters (if any) as the Minister of the Government concerned considers appropriate.
(a) measures to be taken to ensure compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 497 of 1997),
(b) measures to be taken to facilitate access by persons with disabilities to public roads and other public places and to other services provided by the Minister, local authorities or other public bodies in relation to which he or she performs functions and the time proposed within which such measures are to be taken,
(c) arrangements proposed to be put in place by the Minister and the Minister for Transport to facilitate access to the vehicles providing the passenger transport services by such persons from a public road,
(d) housing and accommodation for persons with disabilities,
(e) proposed arrangements for co-operation by housing authorities with the Executive in relation to the development and co-ordination of the services provided by housing authorities for persons with disabilities, and
(f) any other matters which the Minister considers appropriate.
Section 36 (2) state that “public places” includes:
(a) street furniture, pavements and pedestrian zones,
(c) public parks and open spaces owned or maintained by a local authority,
(d) harbours, bus and light rail stops for which a local authority is responsible,
but does not include a public building under section 25 or a service to which section 26 or 27 applies.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government published the sectoral plan which was approved by the Oireachtas 18th October 2006. Section 4.3.1 of that sectoral plan states that “Each local authority will, within three months of completing the accessibility audit, draw up an implementation plan setting out a programme (including dates) to implement the commitments and objectives contained in the Disability Act 2005 and in the sectoral plan.” Such is the context in which this plan was prepared.
Waterford County Council intend Universal Accessibility to be a philosophy rather than a project and to this end it forms part of the Council’s Customer Action Plan which is enshrined in the Corporate Plan 2005 – 2009. Responsibility for the Implementation of the Plan rests with the Director of Services for Corporate Affairs, Frank Curran.
Four key personnel have been appointed with special responsibilities in this area, as follows:
It is planned to build on the work done by the Barcelona Declaration Implementation Team and when the Disability Act Implementation steering group was established it included many members from the Barcelona Declaration Implementation Team. This steering group, under the Chairmanship of the Director of Services for Corporate Affairs, also includes high level decision makers from County Council sections which have a large input into the implementation of the plan, including Roads, Housing, Environment, IT, Libraries, and Community and Enterprise. This steering group has met on a regular basis since June 2007 in order to seek opportunities to build synergies across the Council’s various sections within the overall framework of Universal Accessibility best practice.
It will also be necessary to liaise with other public bodies, external to Waterford County Council, such as Public Transport Providers, the Office of Public Works, The National Parks and Wildlife Service, etc, with a view to adopting an integrated approach to providing Universal Accessibility to sites or services owned or provided by others within the Council’s functional area. This liaison is necessary, for example, in the case of heritage sites within the County which are owned and maintained by the Office of Public Works but where the access to the site is provided by Waterford County Council.
It is intended that the Implementation Plan will be a live document, regularly reviewed over its lifetime. As the timeframes within the Plan are lengthy in some cases, it is inevitable that changing circumstances will lead to changing priorities. Therefore, it is intended that the plan will be comprehensively reviewed on an annual basis. This review will tie in with the County Council’s annual Roadworks Programme.
In March 2007 nineteen members of staff were trained in conducting Access Audits in a five day programme run by School of the built Environment of the University of Ulster. This programme is supported by University of Ulster research staff and experts and private consultants and has links with national and international organisations working in the field. The programme included a presentation from the National Disability Authority established under the National Disability Authority Act, 1999. Not only did this programme create a large block of staff capable of carrying out audits, but it created an awareness of access issues among front-line decision makers such as Area Engineers and Planners. A number of Access Audits were carried out at this time as part of this course and further audits were subsequently conducted by John O’Sullivan of the Council’s staff.
In order to give a prioritisation to various remedial works of a similar nature a weighting system was devised to give a ranking to a scheme. This was used, for example, to rank the county’s twenty-three public toilets into an order of priority. Each facility was scored under the following five criteria:
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