Dáil Éireann - Volume 588 - 08 July, 2004

Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.

  31. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention was drawn to the call from the National Disability Authority for improved quality in services for persons with disabilities, greater accessibility to public services and a national survey of needs of the disabled; and if he intends to act on these suggestions. [20734/04]

  Mr. McDowell: The NDA is a statutory agency established under the aegis of my Department in June 2000. Section 8 of the National Disability Authority Act 1999 established the NDA. The Act specified its functions to include: assisting in the development of statistical information appropriate for the planning, delivery and monitoring of programmes and services for persons with disabilities, section 8(b); advising the Minister on appropriate standards for programmes and services provided to persons with disabilities and to act as an advisory body with regard to the development of general and specific standards in relation to such programmes and services, section 8(c); monitoring the implementation of standards and codes of practice in programmes and services provided to persons with disabilities, section 8(d); liaising with other bodies involved in the provision of services to persons with disabilities and facilitate and support the development and implementation of appropriate standards for programmes and services for persons with disabilities, section 8(e); and recognising the achievement of good standards and quality in the provision of programmes and services to persons with disabilities I am aware that, in pursuance of its statutory remit, the NDA is working on its own initiative and with service providers to do the following: [2056] improve the quality of services provided for people with disabilities; provide greater accessibility to public services; and to develop a statistical analysis of the needs of people with disabilities.

The NDA, in supporting service provision to people with disabilities in the context of mainstreaming, is involved with a wide programme of measures to increase awareness and improve service delivery. Such work is being carried out on a partnership basis with all those concerned. My Department and I continue to fund and support the NDA’s endeavours in adopting this approach.

Details of some of the related initiatives, and work in progress, are set out in the following table:

Initiative

Work in Progress

The work of the NDA in improving quality of services for people with disabilities

Current work in relation to the improvement of quality of services for people with disabilities includes: the development of National Standards for Disability Services; the development of guidelines for accessibility to public services; and research with regard to the needs of people with disabilities.

National Standards for Disability Services

This project was initiated in June 2002 with the Department of Health and Children. The standards will apply to disability services for children and adults with autism, intellectual, physical and/or sensory disability, funded by the Department of Health and Children. Over the past two years, these Standards have been developed in consultation with people with disabilities, their families, carers, service providers and other stakeholders. A pilot of these standards was undertaken in the final quarter of 2003. The NDA and the Department of Health and Children are currently finalising amendments to these standards on foot of feedback from this pilot and further consultations and intend to finalise this process later this year.

National survey of needs of the disabled

During 2003 the NDA commissioned the ESRI to pilot the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health on a sample survey to establish the prevalence of disability and its impact on participation and functioning by individuals with disabilities in Ireland. The results of the study are set out in a report available on the NDA website. The NDA have proposed that a full national disability post census survey should be undertaken.

[2057] Accessibility of public services

The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness 2000 contains a commitment from Government in relation to improving the accessibility of public services. Under the commitment, the NDA has been given the task in conjunction with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to develop guidelines on improving accessibility to public services and to monitor progress in achieving improved access. The NDA has recruited a team of experts In order to carry out this task. This team are currently promoting the NDA’s existing guidelines but are also developing a new set of accessibility guidelines specifically related to public services in consultation with Government departments, state agencies, the voluntary sector and the general public. An audit tool and associated assessment tool are in preparation. Lastly, as part of this commitment the NDA are in the process of commissioning an accessibility symbol to award to public services that comply with these accessibility guidelines.