Draft changes to Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information for people with autism.

Introduction

The National Disability Authority (NDA) wants to hear from people with autism, their families, carers and representative organisations about proposed changes to the Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies to ensure it covers issues for people with autism.

This Code of Practice sets out how public bodies can ensure that they comply with the requirements of Part 3 of the Disability Act 2005 to ensure that people with disabilities are enabled to avail of mainstream public services. In particular the Code of Practice covers:

  • Section 26 – Access to Services
  • Section 27 – Accessibility of Services Supplied to a Public Body
  • Section 28 – Access to Information

The Code of Practice was first published in 2006. The Code is relevant for all public services, including public transport, housing, education and training from public bodies, healthcare and many more. It covers services provided at counters, or in public service buildings or centres, or by phone or online or by post.

We have drafted a number of changes to the Code of Practice so that it addresses issues for people with autism. This will help public services to take into account the particular difficulties and challenges faced by people with autism.

How can I contribute to the review?

We have published a draft of the proposed changes on our website. There are two versions of the draft – one using the Microsoft Word ‘track changes’ facility to highlight what has changed in the Code of Practice, and one copy of the revised Code of Practice, with no changes tracked.

Please review the proposed changes, and send us your feedback to jgbyrne@nda.ie by Friday 2nd September 2016. If you have any accessibility issues with any of these documents, please let us know at jgbyrne@nda.ie.

You’ll find an electronic copy of the existing Code of Practice or you can get a paper copy by contacting jgbyrne@nda.ie.

What is in the Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice provides practical advice to help public bodies to understand and comply with their legal obligations under Sections 26, 27 and 28 of the Disability Act 2005. It provides details of the actions that public bodies can take to ensure that they comply with the Act.

Section 26 deals with provision of mainstream public services to people with disabilities, for assistance to be given on request to enable someone access a service, where this is practicable, and for each public body to have an Access Officer to arrange for assistance to people with disabilities accessing their services. Section 27 requires public bodies to ensure that goods and services provided to the body are accessible for people with disabilities, provided that this does not involve unreasonably delay or unjustifiable cost.

Section 28 requires public bodies to ensure that oral communications are made accessible for people with hearing impairments on request, and that written communications are made accessible for people with visual impairments on request. It requires public bodies to ensure that electronic communications are accessible to people with visual impairments that use adaptive technology. Communications that are relevant for people with intellectual disabilities must be in clear language that is easily understood.

The Code of Practice has legal status. It is published as a statutory instrument (S.I. No. 163 of 2006). Compliance with the Code of Practice is deemed to be compliance with the Act.

The Code of Practice is not the only way to comply with the Act. Public bodies may come up with alternatives approaches to compliance that are appropriate for their own circumstances.

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