Mullingar Accessibility Awareness Day
In a joint initiative between Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) and NCBI, the national sight loss organisation, four of Mullingar’s leading Councillors will attempted to navigate their way throughout Mullingar Town, using a manual wheelchair, a mobility scooter, a white cane and other mobility aids which people with physical and sensory disabilities rely on in their day to day lives. Mayor Cllr. Peter Burke was joined by his colleagues Cllr Avril Whitney, Cllr Una D’arcy and Cllr Sorca Clarke as they participated in the awareness initiative where they were accompanied by a local person with a physical or sensory disability.
The purpose of the day was to get the Councillors and also the local community thinking about the access issues which people with disabilities living in Mullingar face on a regular basis. From a lack of adequate public transport, the poor state of footpaths, obstacles on footpaths, inaccessible buildings and the misuse of Disabled Parking Bays, people with disabilities must overcome a myriad of obstacles when visiting Mullingar. The Councillors, with the support of staff from Irish Wheelchair Association and NCBI, undertook a number of challenges, including navigating their way throughout the town centre, posting a letter and stopping for a cup of coffee.
Arthur Dunne, Irish Wheelchair Association, Service Coordinator, Mullingar explained:
“People with disabilities are leading fully independent lives, and rightfully expect to be able to participate in all aspects of society. IWA and NCBI advocate on behalf of their members to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in the economic, social and cultural life of the community.
IWA members have identified access to the built environment as one of the biggest issues facing them in their daily lives. It is also widely acknowledged that access issues have a direct impact on other priorities such as employment, housing, parking and transport. Although progress has been made over the past few years, a lot still needs to be done. The access awareness day is about highlighting the issues in a real and insightful way to the individuals who can make the necessary changes required to improve access standards in Mullingar’.
IWA has a dedicated National Steering Group on Access that works with the Department of the Environment and local authorities to improve knowledge and awareness of the importance of this issue. The Association also published the ‘Access Guidelines - Designing Accessible Environments’ which is a set of recommendations, information and guidance designed to influence and advocate for future legislation, the development of new regulations and improved access standards.
IWA provides a range of services to people with disabilities living in Mullingar and the surrounding areas, from its busy day centre located in the Springfield Centre, Delvin Road, Mullingar. The IWA Day Centre in Mullingar acts as a hub in the local community, a place where people can go to meet, get advice, seek support, learn new skills and socialise. For additional information about the range of services the Association provides or to learn more about the Access Awareness Day please call 044 934 7511.