For Written Answer on : 13/07/2023
Question Number(s): 614 Question Reference(s): 34820/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth to provide a progress update on the Barcelona Declaration 1995 for people with disabilities and its implementation in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Barcelona Declaration 1995 was a non-binding commitment at local government level to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in cities and municipal areas across Europe. It promoted the development and adoption of plans to promote and advance universal design so that services and structures could be used by everyone on an equal basis. The Barcelona Declaration was supported and promoted in Ireland through the Government-funded Barcelona Project (2001-2004) and through the piloting of seven local authority social inclusion units under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. In all, the Declaration was signed by over 400 municipalities across Europe between 1995 and 2004.
As I am not directly responsible for the local authority sector, I would invite the Deputy to submit any detailed questions to the local authority in question, or to the Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage.
In broader terms, the principle of accessibility has since been set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which Ireland ratified in March 2018.
In line with the overarching obligations that flow from the UNCRPD, domestic legislation, in the form of the Disability Act 2005, obliges public bodies including local authorities to ensure that public buildings, heritage sites, information and services are accessible to people with disabilities.
In addition, the Government’s approach to accessibility continues to be informed by developments at EU level. Ireland has taken steps to implement the EU Web Accessibility Directive, which requires all public sector websites and mobile applications to be accessible to people with disabilities.
As Minister, I recognise the central importance of accessibility in creating a more inclusive society. A number of actions pursued under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, which concluded at the end of 2022 and whose Steering Group I chaired, specifically sought to address a range of accessibility issues, including in relation to the provision of information, transport, assistive technologies, public buildings, ICT and procurement.
The National Disability Authority (NDA), which is funded and supported by my Department also plays a key role in supporting my Department in the coordination of disability policy, including in relation to accessibility. The Disability Act 2005 established a Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) in the NDA. The CEUD is dedicated to promoting universal design, promoting the design of environments that can be accessed regardless of a person’s age, size, ability or disability. The NDA is also responsible for monitoring implementation of the EU Web Accessibility Directive. The first report on implementation of the Directive was published in December 2021.