People with physical disabilities ‘locked out’ of public spaces

No way through: a wheelchair user encounters a carelessly parked car on St Anne’s Road

THE plight of wheelchair users and people with physical disabilities when it comes to access to public spaces and amenities has been brought to the attention of councillors in Kerry.

They have been asked to act immediately to adopt new best practice guidelines for planning and construction after concerns were brought to the council’s attention by the Irish Wheelchair Association.

Research conducted by the organisation found that 77 per cent of people with physical disabilities have poor or no access to public spaces and amenities because of issues with pavements, parking and pedestrian crossings.

People using wheelchairs or mobility scooters are being greatly inconvenienced

Furthermore, 66 per cent of people reported difficulty accessing public buildings, which include healthcare, retail and leisure facilities and 68 per cent experience inadequate toilets, lifts, emergency exits and parking machines in public spaces.

63 per cent of those surveyed said that they often faced poor or no accessible public parking at public buildings while 73 per cent said they often faced steps to the main entrance of public buildings.

“People with physical disabilities are effectively locked out of public spaces and buildings. With current building regulations taking an extremely narrow view of accessibility, simple day-to-day activities are made needlessly complicated,” said Irish Wheelchair Association spokesperson Tony Cunningham.

“We work hard to serve our members in Kerry and we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us”  he added.

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