rticle 30 of the UNCRPD focuses on the rights of people with a disability to participate in cultural, recreational and sporting activities. Article 30 (5) of the CRPD describes how Governments and Service Providers should take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities by encouraging and promoting participation, encouraging the provision of appropriate instruction, training and resources, as well as ensuring access to venues, activities and services. Additionally, the UNCRPD defines how ‘reasonable accommodations and modifications’ will need to be considered to ensure that people with disabilities exercise their human rights on an equal basis with others.
The significant number of people with a disability that are living in Ireland and Ireland’s commitment to the equality agenda of the CRPD, creates an urgency to review the outdoor environment and to strategically plan how adaptations can be incorporated into nature’s design to accommodate people with disabilities and their right to exercise, socialise and enjoy the many benefits that being in the outdoors has to offer. These rights are general for everyone, but too often people with disabilities are excluded from participating in activities in the outdoor environment because of the lack of accessible amenities or the absence of disability awareness amongst service providers.
Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty, incredible landscapes, and breath-taking coastlines. Kilkenny has many parks which provide a wonderful amenity to the city and county’s inhabitants.
IWA Sport and Sport Ireland have developed an accessibility guide “The Great Outdoors” – this guide aims to provide organisations and land managers with relevant guidance and information relating to accessible design, including, in some instances, the provision of on-site supports that can be provided in order to make their specific environments more available and accessible for people with a disability. The guide can also act as a support for future service planning and in many instances can combine with an annual service plan on improving accessibility within the outdoor environment. By following these guidelines, it is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in the opportunities for people with disabilities who wish to become involved and active in outdoor locations and activities. It is important to consider the needs and preferences of people who have a disability and consultation is required where change is being proposed.
IWA recommends that Kilkenny City Council refers to the Great Outdoors Access Guidelines in designing and maintain the many parks and recreational zones of the city and county.
Changing Places Facilities
Many Irish Wheelchair Association members are excluded from participating in economic activity and social life through a lack of fully accessible toilet and changing facilities. Standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of all persons with disabilities. Changing Places facilities include both a hoist and a height-adjustable changing bench. Currently there are a limited amount of Changing Places facilities in Kilkenny City. IWA strongly recommends the allocation of Changing Places facilities at strategic locations within the city centre and its environs, e.g. in public buildings that are open at weekends and evenings as well as office hours. Further guidance on Changing Places is available at www.changingplaces.ie