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Disability Act Implementation

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Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter)

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Snippet Contents:

The Disability Act 2005 is a positive action measure designed to support the provision of disability-specific services to people with disabilities and to improve access to mainstream public services for people with disabilities. All sections of the Act have been commenced and its implementation is ongoing.
Many of the provisions are implemented on an ongoing basis, for example, Government Departments make provision for expenditure on service delivery on an annual basis. Departments and other public bodies are also implementing the accessibility provisions of the Act including appointing access officers and provision of complaints procedures.
In addition, a number of key initiatives have been implemented since the commencement of the Act. In 2006 sectoral plans for relevant Government Departments were published and provided for how these Departments would serve the needs of people with disabilities and set out a programme for future development. Codes of practice in respect of accessibility of public services, information provided by public bodies and heritage sites have been published by the National Disability Authority. Part 5 of the Act provides for a statutory target for the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities in the public sector. This provision is ongoing and annual monitoring reports are prepared by the National Disability Authority. A centre of excellence in universal design was established in 2007 in the National Disability Authority and is dedicated to enabling the design of environments that can be accessed, understood and used regardless of age, size and ability.
Section 6 provides for a review of the operation of the Act not later than five years after commencement. This review was completed and a report was published in July 2010.
Part 2 of the Act is the responsibility of the Minister for Health. In 2006 a cross-sectoral team was established to provide for a joint approach by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills to the implementation of the Disability Act 2005 and the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004. The team now includes a representative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 provides disabled individuals with an entitlement to an independent assessment of need and a statement of proposed services to be provided and allows them to pursue a complaint and, if necessary, make an appeal to the independent Disability Appeals Officer. Part 2 of the Act was commenced on 1 June 2007 in respect of children under the age of five. It had been intended to have both the Disability Act 2005 and the EPSEN Act 2004 fully implemented during 2010 for children and young people aged up to 18. However, in 2008 the then Government decided, in light of financial circumstances, to defer further implementation of both Acts. Notwithstanding this the cross-sectoral team continues to meet to address issues of mutual concern for children with disabilities.
The Deputy will also be aware of the work relating to the National Disability Strategy and the intention of my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, in line with commitments in the Programme for Government, to agree and publish an implementation plan for that strategy in the coming months.