Launch of an Operational Review of the Effectiveness of Section 25 of the Disability Act 2005.
An Operational Review of the Effectiveness of Section 25 of the Disability Act was launched on Friday, 19 July by the National Disability Authority (NDA) and the Office of Public Works (OPW).
Section 25 of the Disability Act places an obligation on public bodies to ensure that their public buildings are accessible, as far as practicable, to persons with disabilities. It requires them to bring the public areas of public sector buildings into compliance with the building regulations by 2022. It covers many types of buildings and facilities from public offices to public transport stations and public toilets and from arts buildings to libraries.
The review looked at how this obligation was understood and being implemented by public bodies on the ground. The review was carried out under an objective in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021, that ‘public services are universally designed and accessible to all citizens’.
The findings of the review indicate the action need for greater action and investment to progress compliance by 2022. The report of the review was launched by Kevin Boxer Moran TD., Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, who stated:
‘We all have a role to play when it comes to disability. This review sets out the way forward and there is a strong commitment by OPW to act on this.’
Maurice Buckley, Chairman of the OPW commented:
‘The OPW is striving to be a leader in this area and we are committed to achieving our obligations under Section 25 of the Disability Act 2005. We will take a holistic approach when making improvements to public buildings to optimise the effectiveness of overall spending’.
Siobhán Barron, Director of the NDA referred to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which requires that Ireland implements measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access on an equal basis with others to the built environment, transport, information and communications. She added in relation to the review that:
‘We welcome the input by persons with disabilities and older persons, which emphasised to us in the consultation that a Universal Design approach would ensure more effective use of funding, rather than one which focuses on compliance with minimum standards. They also emphasised the importance of engaging with building users early in the process, when planning to make alterations to public buildings.’