Frequently Asked Questions

What is Accessibility? 
An accessible public premises means that everyone can enter it, use its services, access its information and exit it without restriction.


So it's not just about physical disability then? 
No. The Disability Act 2005 applies to the provision of accessible premises, services and information by public bodies, including local authorities.  These must be accessible not only for people with physical disabilities, but for others, including those with impaired sight, vision or hearing, and those with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems.


Why do public buildings and services need to be accessible?
To promote the equal participation of all those living in Ireland, accessible buildings, information and services have an important role to play.


What are the legal obligations in the Disability Act 2005 with regard to public buildings?
All public bodies, including local authorities, have a legal obligation to make their public buildings accessible to people with disabilities, as far as practicable, by 2015. "Public building" means a building, or that part of a building, to which members of the public generally have access and which is occupied, managed or controlled by a public body.  


What are the legal obligations in the Disability Act with regard to accessible public services?
All public bodies, including local authorities, have a legal obligation to provide, where practicable and appropriate, services in an accessible and integrated manner and to provide, as appropriate, assistance to people with disabilities in accessing their services. They are also required to appoint an Access Officer in support of this role. A statutory Code of Practice produced by NDA is in place and compliance with the statutory Code of Practice is deemed to be compliance with this section of the Disability Act.


What are the legal obligations in the Disability Act with regard to accessible goods and services?
All public bodies, including local authorities, when procuring goods and services have a legal obligation to ensure that, where practicable, they are accessible to people with disabilities. An exception applies where the cost could not be justified or where it would cause unreasonable delay in making the goods or services available to others. A statutory Code of Practice produced by NDA is in place and compliance with the statutory Code of Practice is deemed to be compliance with this section of the Disability Act.


What are the legal obligations in the Disability Act with regard to accessible information?
All public bodies, including local authorities, have a legal obligation to, as far as practicable, provide information in the format requested by someone with a hearing or sight impairment in a way that meets their needs. There is also an obligation to provide information, where practicable, to people with an intellectual disability in clear language which can be easily understood by them. Websites and electronic communication should be accessible to people with vision impairments. A statutory Code of Practice produced by NDA is in place and compliance with the Code is deemed to be compliance with this section of the Act.


What about the accessibility of public places?
The Sectoral Plan of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, required under Part 3 of the Disability Act, requires that all local authorities carry out accessibility audits of their roads, streets, pavements and pedestrian crossings, public buildings, public parks, amenities and open spaces, heritage sites, public libraries and harbours within their control and identify what remedial action is necessary to make them accessible to people with disabilities. Local authorities are then required to draw up an Implementation Plan setting out a programme (including dates) to implement the commitments and objectives contained in the Disability Act and the Sectoral Plan. Who carries out access audits for local authorities?


What is the role of the Access Officer in local authorities?
According to the Disability Act 2005, all public bodies are required to have an Access Officer. The role of the Access Officer is to ´provide or arrange for and co-ordinate the provision of assistance and guidance´ to disabled persons in accessing its services

What about complaints from the public?
Local authorities are required under the Disability Act to appoint an Inquiry Officer to deal with any complaints received in relation to accessibility of public services, premises, information, or heritage sites, or a failure to procure accessible goods or services. Individuals may raise such a complaint to the head of the public body and subsequently to the Ombudsman.


What is the Barcelona Declaration?
The Barcelona Declaration advocates the right of disabled people to equal opportunities and recognises their contribution to the society and environment they live in. The Declaration resulted from the European Congress ´the City and the Disabled´ held in Barcelona in 1995.