Strategic Plan 2013-2015 Promoting inclusion and participation

Foreword

I am delighted on behalf of the National Disability Authority to present to the Minister our Strategic Plan for the years 2013 to 2015. This sets out how, as the independent statutory advisory body on disability and universal design, we will focus our work in the coming three years to guide the Minister, Government Departments, public bodies and others on how to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream of Irish life.

The National Disability Authority is uniquely positioned, with its research role, its expertise and its statutory independence, to guide national policy and practices that impact on the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan will chart the Government's targets on disability for the coming three years. This period is also likely to see Ireland's ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires ratifying States to engage in a programme to achieve social, economic and cultural rights. Providing practical advice and guidance to Departments and public bodies on how to deliver on these commitments will be a core National Disability Authority role.

The continued difficult economic and fiscal circumstances pose a real challenge. They also offer an impetus and an opportunity to do things differently, and support people with disabilities to achieve greater independence, choice and control in their lives. However, it is essential that the focus of any changes made is on achieving and maintaining good outcomes for people with disabilities, and that quality is not sacrificed in the search for cost-effectiveness.

Following a series of strategic and policy reviews, there are major changes expected in how disability services will be funded and delivered, with a greater focus on designing services and supports around the individual with a disability.

People with disabilities want to live normal lives in the community. That means having access to employment, to transport, to housing, to an income, like anyone else. It means living in, being accepted and being part of the community. We will undertake research and issue guidance to support practical progress on these matters.

A key focus of our work, through the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, is to encourage the creation of services, places, information and technology that are designed from the outset to be used by the widest range of people, regardless of age, size, ability or disability, without the need for further adaptation. Good design from the outset makes good sense and is more cost effective in the long-term.

The National Disability Authority looks forward to working with the Minister, Departments and public bodies and the wider disability community to deliver on this programme of work.

Peter McKevitt

Chairman