People with disabilities are equal citizens. The National Disability Authority’s vision is of an Irish society in which people with disabilities enjoy equal rights and opportunities to participate in economic, social and cultural life; have choice and control over how they live their lives; and are enabled to reach their full potential.
The Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities which reported in 1996 was a landmark document. The three guiding principles adopted by the Commission to inform its work were:
- Maximising Participation
- Enabling Independence and Choice
Subsequently, in 2000, the principle that mainstream Government Departments and public services should encompass people with disabilities was adopted by Government, and given legal effect in the Disability Act 2005. Legislation has been enacted to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability in employment (Employment Equality Acts) and in the provision of goods and services (Equal Status Acts). The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission supports implementation of this legislation, and provides guidance in that regard.
The National Disability Strategy was launched in 2004, to underpin the participation of people with disabilities in Irish society. The strategy built on existing policy and legislation, including the policy of mainstreaming public services for people with disabilities. It is designed as a whole of government approach to promoting equality and inclusion of people with disabilities, with three main elements:
- Disability legislation –
- Statutory Sectoral Plans on disability for six Government Departments, covering employment, environment and housing, health and disability services, social welfare, transport and communications
- A multi-annual investment programme 2004-2009, mainly in disability services