Galway City Council, Galway Chamber and Galway City Partnership in association with Access for All, have launched a call for both businesses and members of the public to consider the challenges faced by people with disabilities, including those with visual impairment and those with mobility issues, as a result of the new social distancing regime we all now find ourselves having to adapt to.
The request comes following a meeting between members of the Galway City Council Mobility Team and Access for All to discuss issues people with disabled people can face on a daily basis due to necessary social distancing measures.
“While these new arrangements pose difficulties for all of us, they often pose more significant challenges for people with disabilities. Many people with a disability plan out their journey around the city in advance and have a regular routine in place, and any unexpected change or unnecessary obstacle to this can have a significant impact on someone’s day” commented Marian Maloney from Access for All.
“There are 11,000 people living in Galway City living with a disability. In addition to this, many older persons have mobility challenges. Many of these have spent the past 3 months cocooning as a result of government recommendations and are nervous as they emerge back into society and our city. As much as 13.5% of the population of Ireland have a disability, it is likely that a significant number of domestic visitors to Galway City this summer will have mobility challenges and each and every one of these people are customers and consumers.” said Mayor of Galway City, Cllr. Mike Cubbard.
The general public are being asked to have consideration for the additional challenges faced by people with disabilities as they try to deal with measures and restrictions resulting from COVID-19 Health Emergency, by considering the following points:
- Avoid parking in parking spaces designated for people with disabilities
- Avoid blocking footpaths with illegal parking
- Recognise that not all disabilities are visible and that some people may have difficulty seeing signage and judging distances
- Allow time and space to people with disabilities in queues for public transport
- Be considerate of the fact that guide dogs are not trained to socially distance
- Verbal communication is essential and can avoid miscommunication and confusion
‘While businesses are struggling through the worst economic shock of their lives, many owners and their staff accept that there are those who the experience of coming into town and trying to move about as normal is all the more challenging. This initiative shines a light on some of what we’ve taken for granted, the unique physical and sensory capabilities individuals live with and the changes to our society as we now know them’ said Kenny Deery, CEO Galway Chamber.
Some of the measures businesses are being asked to consider are:
- Installing hand sanitisers for the public to use at a level that takes wheelchair users into account
- Making staff aware of the issues faced by people with disabilities in relation to signage and queuing and to be cognisant of potentially hidden disabilities
- Ensuring any new measures introduced, in-store or on-street do not have an impact on the accessibility of the business
- Making sure accessible toilets are opened and available
Improving the accessibility of a medieval city such as Galway will take a collective effort by us all, but can certainly be helped by taking a few extra moments to consider the difficulties faced by disabled people.