Thursday 20 November 2008

Dublin aims to be most accessible city for disabled

DUBLIN IS aiming to become the most accessible city in the world for people with disabilities, the elderly and parents of young children.

Dublin City Council and the National Disability Authority (NDA) are to discuss plans at a conference today which they say will make the city the most accessible internationally by the end of the decade.

The council, the NDA and the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design will discuss the issue not only in terms of improving infrastructure such as roads, footpaths and buildings but through the use of technology.

Speaking before the conference, Peter Finnegan, director of the council's office of international relations and research, said Dublin was leading the way internationally in terms of using technology to improve accessibility.

"Earlier this year, we launched our Access Dublin website and we have already audited 1,000 businesses which provide accessible services, and we will audit another 1,000 next year."

The website,, carries details of premises and services in Dublin which are accessible, and invites feedback from users, enabling local people and tourists to choose businesses they know they will be able to use easily.

The council was also investigating the use of talking information and map units that use touchscreen technology and carry no written information.

The issue of accessibility does not just concern wheelchair users or the visually impaired, Mr Finnegan said. "It's about people who are getting older, people with children in pushchairs, people who might fall and be on a crutch for a period of time. People should realise that this issue is likely to affect them at some stage in their life cycle."

Mr Finnegan conceded that the council still had a lot to do in terms of improving path and road surfaces, but he said the council also had to ensure that accessibility was built into the design of any new works programme.

"We're not just putting right the wrongs of the past - anything that's done in the future must be done to the highest standards. There needs to be universal design in how we plan our cities."

Irish Times

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