Part 3 of the Disability Act
In relation to Accessibility of Public Services and Information, Part 3 of the Disability Act places significant responsibilities on public bodies to make their services accessible to people with disabilities.
Under Section 26
Public bodies are required to ensure that their services are accessible for people with disabilities by providing integrated access to mainstream services where practicable and appropriate.
Under Section 27
Public bodies are required to ensure that the goods or services they purchase are accessible unless it would not be practicable or justifiable on cost grounds or would result in an unreasonable delay.
Under Section 28
Following a request and as far as practicable:
- Communications by a public body to a person with a hearing or visual impairment must be provided in an accessible format
- Information provided electronically must be compatible with adaptive technology.
- Published information, relevant to persons with intellectual disabilities, must be made available in easy to read formats.
To help public bodies meet the requirements set out in the Disability Act, the National Disability Authority prepared a Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies.
We were requested to create this Code of Practice by the Minister for Justice and Equality under Section 30 of the Disability Act to guide public bodies to meet requirements under Sections 26, 27 and 28.
By complying with the Code of Practice, public bodies are considered to be in compliance with these sections of the Disability Act. These sections of the Disability Act are intended to ensure services and information provided by public bodies are accessible to all members of the public, including people with disabilities.
We have also drafted an updated Code of Practice and submitted it to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and are awaiting approval.
Monitoring the Code of Practice
The National Disability Authority monitors compliance with the Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies and reports to the Minister as appropriate.
We conducted surveys in 2008 and 2010 on how public bodies were complying with this Code of Practice.
The data that we gathered revealed there was no consistent approach throughout the public sector regarding whether public bodies were meeting their obligations with this code. There was also no consistent approach in place to monitor the progress public bodies were making regarding complying with our Code of Practice.
After these surveys, we decided that a monitoring mechanism consisting of appropriate processes and tools needed to be developed, piloted and implemented to:
Determine if public bodies were complying with the Code of Practice
Capture any progress they were making in meeting their obligations under the code
Support them to increase their compliance
As the first phase of this plan, we conducted a pilot study and published the Transport Accessibility Monitoring Study: Report on Phase 1 Pilot. This pilot study allowed us to identify monitoring tools and approaches that could be used in future monitoring and how we should go about collecting and reporting the data.
Using the information gathered in the pilot study, we moved on to the next phase of monitoring the Code of Practice. We examined the performance of all public bodies under Part 3 of the Disability Act against one indicator from our Code of Practice. Our findings of this phase will be published shortly.