Four of Athlone’s councillors attempted to navigate their way throughout Athlone’s Town Centre, 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.
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 Athlone face on a regular basis.
It is part of a joint initiative between Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA ), MS Ireland, and NCBI, the national sight loss organisation.
Mayor of Athlone, Councillor Tom Farrell, was joined by his colleagues Councillor Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Councillor Frankie Keena, and Councillor John Dolan as they participated in the awareness initiative where they were accompanied by a local person with a physical or sensory disability.
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.
Speaking at the Clonbrusk Resource Centre, where all three disability organisations are based, committee member Cllr Frankie Keena said: “It is so important for elected members to be fully aware of the daily difficulties experienced by people with disabilities as they move throughout the town.
“A high kerb, steep incline, sandwich boards on footpaths, steps into various retail or business outlets may not be a major obstacle to people who are able to walk but if you are a wheelchair user or need a white cane then these matters become major issues.
“I want to compliment IWA, MS Ireland, and NCBI for coming up with this initiative,” he added.