Almost 80% of people with physical disabilities have poor or no access to public spaces according to a new survey from the Irish Wheelchair Association. The lack of access is due to issues with pavements, parking, pedestrian crossings and more.
The study reveals that a further 66% of people reported difficulty accessing public buildings, including healthcare, retail and leisure facilities.
The survey results formed part of the latest edition of the association’s 'Best Practice Access Guidelines', launched to mark the charity’s 60th anniversary.
A shocking 73% of respondents said they often faced steps to the main entrance of public buildings.
At present, there is no minimum standard for wheelchair accessible housing in Ireland. The Guidelines and current building regulations are extremely restrictive when it comes to accessibility, making simple everyday activities needlessly complicated.
Tony Cunningham of Irish Wheelchair Association said the access guidelines set a standard for accessibility in Ireland across construction, housing, public amenities, retail, tourism, hospitality and sport.
“They are inspired by the experiences of Irish Wheelchair Association members, who continue to experience poor accessibility within their local communities that impose limitations on their daily lives,” he said.
Tony called for a review of the current regulations to include wheelchair accessible housing design, that falls in line with their recently published guidelines, to ramp up the accessibility standard for new builds.
The Irish Wheelchair Association also appealed to the anyone engaged in employment in planning, building and design to adopt the guidelines to create an Ireland where people with disabilities enjoy equal rights, choices and opportunities in how they live their lives.
Irish Wheelchair Association’s ‘Best Practice Access Guidelines: Designing Accessible Environments’ is available to view and download HERE.
It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.