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Access to the built environment

Accessibility to buildings, facilities and services is a key factor in enabling people with disabilities to achieve a quality of life comparable with that of other citizens. People with disabilities can avail of a service provided by a public body at the same point of access or location, and at the same time as everyone else, where practicable and appropriate.

Buildings and services Aaccessibility policy

The National Disability Strategy and The Disability Act 2005 puts significant responsibilities on all public bodies to make the services they provide accessible to people with disabilities. 

Definition of Disability

The Disability Act 2005 defines disability as:

“Disability, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the state or to participate in social or cultural life in the state by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment”.

This definition relates to persons with a disability that is permanent or likely to be permanent, results in a significant difficulty in communication, learning or mobility or in significantly disordered cognitive processes.

Accessibility Steering Committee

We established a cross-functional accessibility steering committee to develop and implement our accessibility strategies. This committee enables all sections of the our local authorities to get involved, pursuing a whole- organisation approach to ensure that access for people with disabilities is recognised to be everyone’s business. The overall objective of ensuring maximum accessibility is targeted via three key areas: built environment; customer services; and information provision.

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Policy Statement

We will endeavour to ensure that the special needs of all our customers, including people with disabilities, are met and that rights to equal treatment are upheld in service delivery. We are committed to ensuring that existing and newly developed services and buildings are accessible to persons with disabilities, where it is practical and where funding permits. We will seek to ensure that there is easy, dignified access to all public buildings and public areas under its remit. This included outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, parks and beaches. We will also seek to ensure that any private buildings used by the organisation are accessible to all members of the public. Our policy also covers accessible customer services, human resource management policies, procedures and practices, provision of accessible information to the public and the accessibility of websites and I.T. equipment provided for public use by the Clare Local Authorities.

Serving the Customer Better

Management promotes the organisation’s commitment to providing all our customers with maximum access to local authority services. Clare Local Authorities’ Corporate Plan 2010-2014 sets out its strategic vision and includes as key objectives:

  • Quality Service Delivery and
  • Social Inclusion & Participation

The plan aims to provide a quality service, focused on the needs of our customers and citizens, and to promote social inclusion and participation of all communities and combat marginalisation. The accessibility ethos is integral to both of these strategic objectives. We also have a Customer Action Plan linked to the aim of “serving the customer better.”

The organisation has established a complaints procedure under the Disability Act 2005. This allows for complaints to be made by people with disabilities accessing our services, information etc. It is managed by the Inquiry Officer and is linked to the Customer Action Plan. The Inquiry Officer can be contacted at 065-6846475 or inquiryoff@clarecoco.ie.

Consultation

Clare Local Authorities are committed to real consultation with and participation by people with disabilities in relation to accessibility matters and have established strong links with the P.W.D.I Clare (People with Disabilities in Ireland – Clare Branch Consultative Group) an umbrella organisation for the many organisations representing people with disabilities in Clare.

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Equality Action

We have a Dignity at Work policy in place, which strives to ensure that no discrimination towards people with disabilities occurs within the organisation or where people connect with the organisation. From time to time Equality and Diversity Awareness Programmes are held for staff, and this also aims to ensure that the differences that exist between people are taken into account. The programme seeks to recognise individual contribution and performance and to recognise everyone as having equal opportunity to realise his or her full potential. The following officers are employed in the organisation to deal with a wide range of issues relating to the equality and diversity programme:

  • Equality Officer,
  • Access Officer,
  • Inquiry Officer under the Disability Act 2005, and
  • Customer Care Co-ordinator.

A number of measures are in place to support access of persons with disabilities to the services provided by the organisation. All public counter staff receive disability equality awareness training. Information in alternative formats is available to members of the public on request.

Human Resources - Recruitment and Selection

We have been pro-active in ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities on the workforce over the years. We are committed to ensuring the recruitment process is non- discriminatory and inclusive and strives to attract suitably qualified people with disabilities to join its work force. The organisation seeks to ensure that interview board members are aware of our policies in the area of disability and equality. We continue to exceed the target of 3% employment of people with disabilities required under equality legislation and is committed to providing accommodation alterations such as work arrangement alterations and assistive technology to staff who need it.

To accommodate this policy all new employees are asked at recruitment stage for details of any special requirements or accommodations that they require. The organisation is committed to ensuring that career opportunities are open to employees with disabilities on the same basis as other staff members i.e. based on the same skills, competencies and abilities to perform the tasks which are required for the role and through the use of appraisals / reviews strives to actively encourage employees with disabilities to apply for promotion.

Disability Equality Training

Clare Local Authorities periodically run disability equality awareness training programmes in compliance with the National Disability Authority’s guidelines on disability equality training. It is intended that all staff will be trained in the area of disability and equality.

Procurement

Our procurement policy seeks to ensure that relevant accessibility requirements for people with disabilities are included in all stages of the tender process. Accessibility requirements will be clearly stated in requests for tenders/contracts/quotations where applicable.

Accessibility requirements will be given appropriate consideration and weighting during scoring and evaluation stages. We strive to ensure that organisations adhere to relevant accessibility standards and guidelines as appropriate to the individual tender.

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Access Audit

An access audit was carried out in 2007 of all public buildings owned and run by Clare Local Authorities. The audit also including streetscapes, burial grounds, piers, and beaches and other facilities owned and operated by Clare Local Authorities at 54 town and village locations throughout the county. The organisation is committed to carrying out the works identified and prioritised in the resulting implementation plan, subject to the availability of the necessary resources.

External Environment

We take reasonable steps to ensure an accessible approach to its built environment including, where provided, car-parking spaces. “Building for everyone” guidelines on car-parking spaces for people with disabilities are and have been adhered to, to ensure that all disabled parking spaces provided are adequate for the members of the public for which they are designed.

Evacuation

Management will consider access and safety in emergency situations and will implement sufficient plans to cover all users of the buildings, including people with disabilities. Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans will be completed for all employees with disabilities to ensure their safe evacuation from the building in the case of emergency. This includes emergency procedures, emergency equipment, visual and auditory alarms, safety zones and signage.

Accessible Information

We will endeavour, at all times, to ensure that all possible assistance is given to people with disabilities to access information on the wide range of services that are provided by the Clare local authorities. An Accessible Information Policy has been put in place and is available as a separate policy document. It can be accessed in a variety of ways including at Clare Co. Council’s website and /or on request.

Equal Status Statement

We have a Dignity at Work Policy and Procedures and complies with the obligations of the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998- 2004 which prohibit discrimination on nine distinct grounds - Gender, Marital Status, Family Status, Sexual Orientation, Religion, Age, Disability, Race and Membership of a Traveller Community. All staff, members, customers, clients and business contacts can expect to be treated with dignity and respect. In the provision of services, employment or information, everyone will be treated equally and respected for their individuality and diversity. Any person who feels they are being discriminated against under any of the grounds prohibited by the Equal Status Acts may contact any of the officers appointed for the purpose whose names are given below.

Implementing and Monitoring the Policy

The Access Officer, in consultation with the Access Committee will monitor the general implementation of this policy and will review it periodically.

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Contact Details

In compliance with the Disability Act 2005 we have established a Complaints Procedure. This allows for complaints to be made by people with disabilities accessing the organisations services, information etc. It is managed by the Inquiry Officer. You can contact the inquiry officer at (065) 6846475 or inquiryoff@clarecoco.ie

Other key public contact persons available within the organisation for assistance for people with disabilities and or disability/access related queries are:

Fiona Mooney
Access Officer
Telephone No: (065) 6846296
Email: fmooney@clarecoco.ie

Kieran O'Donnell
Customer Care Coordinator
Telephone: (065) 6846512
Email: kodonnell@clarecoco.ie

Carol Hands
Equality Officer
Telephone: (065) 6846415
Email: chands@clarecoco.ie

Catherine O’Hara
Inquiry Officer
Telephone: (065) 6846475
Email: inquiryoff@clarecoco.ie

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 05/06/18