Kilkenny Local Authorities Disability Implementation plan Press Release

Introduction

Kilkenny Local Authorities are continuously striving to improve accessibility for all citizens and to create a culture of inclusion and awareness of people with disabilities.

Kilkenny Local Authorities have now prepared a Disability Implementation Plan to pursue these aims.

In summary this plan explains:

What we have been doing about disability access and equality to date
Details of what we intend to do, i.e. actions we intend to take over the next 3 years

 

Background

The Disability Act 2005 and the related Sectoral Plans require public bodies to provide:
1. Accessible buildings
2. Accessible information
3. Accessible services

 

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The Act requires each Local Authority to produce their own implementation plan to explain how they will:

"...promote universal access to all public spaces, buildings and services owned and operated by Local Authorities...."

This plan is an important step towards meeting our legal responsibilities as a Local Authority and reaching the ultimate goal of universal access to all spaces, buildings, facilities and services that we own or operate.

 

car park

Designated parking & pedestrian route at County Hall

Our Approach

Kilkenny Local Authorities are committed to working towards creating and
maintaining accessible facilities and services. Our thinking is underpinned by the social model of disability, i.e. that attitudes, buildings, facilities, policies, procedures and services "disable" people by preventing them from accessing and participating in society. People may have functional differences but they are not inherently disabled and we can help to enable or disable people in the decisions we make.

To ensure that we enable rather than disable our customers across all our buildings, information and services also demands clear structures for assigning responsibility, authority and accountability.

 

Implementation Team

The team is made up of staff from a wide range of departments within Kilkenny Local authorities and local people from the Kilkenny Access group

 

Implementation Team

Implementation Team Members

Back row L-R : Ronan Ryan Chairperson (C&E), Josephine Coyle Executive Librarian, Mark O'Toole IT, Tony Walsh, Director of Services, Carol McCarthy, Equality Officer, Anne Delaney Human Resources, Nigel Brander Kilkenny Access Group & Evelyn Graham, Architect/Access Officer Built Environment.

Absent from photo: Adrian Waldron Partnership Facilitator/Enquiry officer, Frank O' Dwyer Senior Engineer Roads, Michael Delahunty, Senior Executive Officer, Human Resources, Susan Dowling, Kilkenny Access Group, Claire Mulhall (KCAN)

Consultation

Consultation is essential to the development and success of our plan. People with disabilities are central to that consultation process as they are our local experts on identifying barriers to access and participation and also to prioritising the order of work that we undertake.
Our many thanks to the Kilkenny Access Group for their valuable contribution.

 

customer service desk

Customer Service desk County Hall

 

Prioritisation Methodology

Kilkenny Local Authorities have used the following criteria to prioritise their
proposed actions that you will find in Part II of this document.
The implementation team considered the following principles as its method of prioritising future works arising from the audit:

Compliancy with the legislative requirements of the Disability Act 2005 and target dates as set out in sectoral plans.
Level of usage
Views of representative groups
Coherence with other state agencies - e.g. the NDA
Budgetary considerations
The enhanced ability of people to participate in society in the area; e.g. visit and enjoy recreational and business activities

Action Plan Update

The plan details actions that we are committed to delivering over the next 3 years in relation to:

1.The Built Environment

2.Accessible Services

3.Accessible Information

 

automatic doorautomatic door

Automatic doors Motor Tax & County Hall

 

The Built Environment

Progress to date:

Detailed Assessments/Audits were completed in 2007of all Kilkenny Local Authorities public buildings, amenities, towns & villages, heritage sites and car parks. The audits identified physical barriers which prevent people with disabilities from engaging fully in these areas
A 3 year plan of access improvements has been devised following consultation. Priority List of works agreed were to improve the:
Pathways, crossings, car parks and access routes throughout Kilkenny's towns and villages
Access to libraries and Kilkenny's main public buildings
The chief criteria for prioritizing were agreed as those actions which most 'enhance participation in society'

 

 

.loughboy library

Improvements at Loughboy Library

 

Access to Services & Information

Public Bodies are required to ensure that:

Services available to the public are also accessible to customers with disabilities.
Assistance will be given to a person with a disability to access a service where necessary.
An Access Officer will act as a point of contact to provide or arrange for the provision of assistance.
Access considerations are included in our procurement policies and procedures e.g. provision of new buildings
A named person is available to deal with complaints that customers may have in relation to disability access issues.
Information is provided in accessible formats for customers who may have a range of impairments including visual impairment, hearing impairment and intellectual impairment.

Progress to date:
Full time Access Officer post was advertised in May 2008
Evelyn Graham was appointed Access Officer for the Built Environment and acts as Access co-ordinator, Mark O'Toole appointed as Access Officer for Information and Adrian Waldron was appointed as Officer for Access to Services as interim measure until the full-time Access Officer post is filled.
Adrian Waldron was also appointed as Inquiry Officer
Telephone: 056 7794000 email: adrian.waldron@kilkennycoco.ie
Mystery Shopper exercise completed to obtain feedback from customers and identify existing barriers and gaps in service
Wording for procurement policy changes agreed
Policies and documents disability proofed and amended including Customer Service Charter, Attendance Management, Confined Competition, County Development Plan, Customer Service Action Plan, Customer Complaints Procedure
Accessible information policy and clear print guidelines being developed
Briefings presented to senior staff on key concepts in disability
Range of formats being explored for communication with public with regard to practicality, cost, timeframes
Procedures are in place to monitor, record & report employment quota target & review progress
Disability equality training to all staff and elected representatives commenced

mobility buggy

 

Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge:
New mobility buggy purchased with Disability Strategy funding

 

Great reaction from satisfied visitors who availed of the mobility buggy service to access Woodstock Gardens:

"I recently visited Woodstock Gardens with my 97 year old mother...who cannot walk very far. We had hardly left the car when a delightful man driving a golf buggy drew up beside us and told us to jump aboard! To my mother's delight we got a full tour of the whole arboretum which would have been totally impossible on foot."
Brid Roe, Dublin 6W.

"As I am arthritic, progress around the walks was very slow and our viewing restricted. To our great delight, a delightful character Liam, complete with motorised buggy saw us and came to the rescue. He drove us up hill and down dale so that we were able to view in comfort the splendid avenues and all the lovely landscaped gardens. Without him we would have seen very little of the estate's glories...."
Christina Fitzsimons, Warrenpoint, Co.Down.

 

INVITATION FROM KILKENNY ACCESS GROUP

The Kilkenny Access Group must be congratulated for the valuable and informed contribution it has made in the formulation of this important Plan.

The group which represents all disability sectors would like to extend an open invitation to all interested parties to join them.

The group meets on a monthly basis at:

Claddagh Court, College Road, Kilkenny

For further details please contact:

Martina Ellis 056 7762775 (9-5pm Monday to Friday)

kilkennyaccessgroup@gmail.com

 


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