Unlocking access to Galway for everyone

Attending the launch of International Day of People with Disability which takes place on December 3 were Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council; Marian Maloney with her dog Yaz; Sharon Lawless Galway City Council, Dave Kennedy Access For All; and Sabrina Commins, Community Development Worker Galway City Partnership. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Attending the launch of International Day of People with Disability which takes place on December 3 were Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council; Marian Maloney with her dog Yaz; Sharon Lawless Galway City Council, Dave Kennedy Access For All; and Sabrina Commins, Community Development Worker Galway City Partnership. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Established over 20 years ago, Access for All is a voluntary group based in Galway City that promotes universal access. When our residents with a disability and/or accessibility issues are combined with those of our annual visitors, we advocate for approximately 25,000 people. We need your practical support to continue with our projects for 2018.

So what exactly is a disability? “Disability” refers to a recognised visual, intellectual, mental/emotional, physical, sensory or hidden condition. For example, this includes those who use wheelchairs or crutches; those with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis; those who are blind or have low vision; those who are deaf or hard of hearing; those with intellectual or developmental disabilities like Down’s Syndrome or Autism and those with mental health challenges.

Within Galway City that’s approximately 13 per cent of the population. “Accessibility” relates to having easy access to physical environments, services and information. This impacts not only those with disabilities but people using baby strollers, those with service dogs, the elderly and those with temporary mobility issues.

So what is it we do? Access for All advocates equal rights to access. Many people are excluded from living their lives with the ease that many of us takes for granted. Did you know that a wheelchair user has to give 24-hours notice to be able to travel by train!

However, Galway has come a long way in the last decade — Did you know that the IMC Cinema holds Sensory Friendly screenings where the sound is turned down, the lights are dimmed and children are free to wander around if needed? We work to promote accessibility issues and solutions through awareness, information sharing and educational activities.

To get tasks done in and around the city we work in partnership with individuals and other local groups/organisations. Some of our members include National Council for the Blind, Galway City Partnership, Disability Federation Ireland and Galway City Council.

We also represent community and local structures to ensure our voice is heard in the right places on matters of local and national importance such as the Galway City Community Network.

We work to promote rights for people with a disability such as supporting Ireland ratifying the United Nations Convention Rights for People with a Disability.

We are also calling out for more volunteers to join us in 2018. Do you have time or a specific skill to contribute? Likely projects with include a city-wide survey to answer the question “What do you understand as ‘accessibility’”? An audit of locations around the city – how easy is it to take a stroller, or guide dog into our tourist attractions?, how many children would use a wheelchair-adapted playground? where are pavements uneven and difficult to navigate?

This year December 3 is the International Day of persons with Disability. To celebrate this we are showing ‘Welcome to my World’ in Cumasu, Ard Resource Centre, Doughiska, 7pm-9pm. We are inviting people from all walks and wheels of life to come celebrate this day with popcorn, treats, and the cinema experience!

We are dedicated to “unlocking access to Galway City for everyone”.

For more information and to get involved please contact Sabrina Commins at [email protected] or on 091 773 466

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