Able 2 Access Ireland
By: Declan Groeger
It is the primary aim of this website to create a database of venues that are accessible to people with a disability regardless of that disability. It will also promote inclusiveness by encouraging people with disabilities to visit venues, make contributions and participate in debate about the venues mentioned. It will be mainly written by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.
About the Project
It is my intention to develop a website dedicated to promoting accessibility and participation for all, regardless of ability or disability. I feel that there is no way that all venues will ever be accessible to all people all of the time. It is therefore incumbent on us to publicise the venues that are accessible and to encourage the less accessible ones to make changes that will affect the accessibility factor.
I created a blog able2access.wordpress.com in February 2013 to get a feeling for what was involved and what information could/should be provided. The blog is mostly made up from my personal experiences. I find that the blog is too restrictive for the vision I have and the only way my vision can become a reality is to develop a website.
The website will deal with all aspects of accessibility for all the various forms of disability. I will not be in a position to comment on vision impairment or hearing impairment issues because I have no personal experience of those issues. I will, therefore, need to enlarge the team. I am applying for funding to get the website up and running and I feel it could be self-financing after the start-up phase. After the initial phase I would expect the site to have members who make contributions and comments on their experiences so that others would benefit. The site will also allow for discussion on venues.
In order to get the biggest initial surge of interest I would make a presentation to all disability organisations asking them to encourage their members to contribute, after all they will be the biggest beneficiaries. After the initial impact it will be important to keep these organisations involved so that its members will stay involved to maintain up-to-date records and comments and also a method for suggesting changes in the website. These organisations would all have links on the website back to their own site and ideally they would reciprocate.
In my blogging experience and other personal experiences I have noticed a number of premises that claim to be fully accessible only to find that claims are either exaggerated or downright false. Whereas some of the problems are created by genuine attempts to deal with universal accessibility some are created by bad or inaccurate professional advice. Therefore it is my intention to have most of the contents on the site submitted by people with a disability or people closely associated with the disabled person and not by people armed with theoretical knowledge.
I have included this application in the food section because I cannot see it fitting under any other category and therefore it will initially deal with restaurants but would rapidly expand to other areas of interest. I would encourage contributors to send in all experiences in all venues and I would loosely model the website on able2access.wordpress.com. There are a number of websites in the style I would like but this would obviously be subject to advice.
People with disabilities make up in excess of 10% of the population of Ireland not to mention the aging population who are finding accessibility difficult simply because of age. I would envisage that this site would be of great use to these people and their families in planning trips and events. It should have a very positive impact on the lives of an awful lot of people.
There are also a large number of disabled people who could/would holiday in Ireland if the appropriate travel and accessibility information was available to assist in their planning phase. I would therefore ask Bord Failte to put a link on their site.
This site could have further far reaching implications internationally when its success is seen by overseas disability organisations.
After the initial start up I would invite businesses to become members and get annual door decals and be subject to web comments similar to TRIPADVISOR.
I urge you to make the funding available to make this social inclusiveness project a reality sooner rather than later.