Categories
Submissions & observations

VVI Concerned at Irish Rail Plans in Ashtown, Fingal

VVI Concerned at Irish Rail’s Imminent Closure of Ashtown Level Crossing:

Voice of Vision Impairment (VVI) is concerned about Irish Rail plans to replace the level crossing in Ashtown, Co. Fingal, with a massive detour for pedestrians.

The proposed new underpass alternative will increase local journeys by vulnerable pedestrians from 300m to 1.8km, and the possibility of a tunnel, itself, gives rise to fears of anti-social behaviour at this pedestrian pinch-point.

VVI calls on Irish Rail to investigate the replacement of the level crossing with an adjacent over-track, step-free, footbridge, in order to preserve the independence and quality of life of vulnerable pedestrians in the Ashtown/Coolmine area.

What Irish Rail Says…

“The plan is to close all level crossings on the Maynooth line with the upgrade to DART. With an increase in services, level crossings would be closed to road traffic the majority of the time leading to major road traffic backlogs and are therefore no longer viable.

Irish Rail’s Access Officer informed us on January 14th, 2021

Due to the layout of the Ashtown crossing with adjacent canal, an overhead bridge would not be workable so a new layout going underneath the railway and canal is the preferred proposal. This would have pedestrian walkways and cycle lanes with a suitable slope for mobility impaired members of the public. Access to the station will be maintained.

See link for more information in regard to Ashtown:

https://www.irishrail.ie/Admin/getmedia/d73fabb6-6a02-47ec-90e4-a8137590c5fa/Ashtown-Roadbridge-Graphic-(A4).pdf

VVI’s Detailed Response

In relation to the closure of Ashtown level crossing, VVI has concerns regarding the lengthy new route to cross the tracks via Mill Road, access to Ashtown Station/Shops; as well as security concerns regarding the likelihood of anti-social behaviour at the pedestrian pinch-point that would be created with the installation of the pedestrian/cycling tunnel under the tracks.

We note from the document ‘DARTWest-brochure-english.pdf’, that:

“It is proposed to close the Ashtown level crossing and provide a vehicular road bridge with pedestrian and cycle facilities. The Emerging Preferred Option provides a new road bridge under the existing railway and the Royal Canal that will be located west of the existing Ashtown Level Crossing predominantly following the route of the existing Mill Lane.”

DART West

We also note that “Access to the station will be maintained.”

Currently, pedestrians from the Ashtown Roundabout, Halfway House Pub, Ashbrook, Martin Savage Park etc can mobilise 300m to go to Supervalu Rathbourne for example, crossing the level crossing en route.

The westbound platform for rail services to Castleknock Clonsilla, Maynooth etc can be accessed without having to cross the tracks.

The eastbound platform for rail services to City Centre etc can either be accessed by crossing the footbridge or walking accross the level crossing when it is open to traffic.

We note there is no mention of a proposed lift or accessible (step free) pedestrian overbridge at Ashtown in the plans.

Pedestrians with mobility difficulties will therefore have to travel what we would estimate to be 1.8km detour via the Mill Road railway/canal underbridge/underpass in order to go shopping at Supervalu Rathbourne or indeed just to access the city bound platform at Ashtown Station.

In the case of Coolmine level crossing, we note that:
“It is proposed to close the Coolmine level crossing and provide a vehicular road bridge with a separate pedestrian and cyclist bridge. The Emerging Preferred Option provides a new road bridge crossing over the railway line and Royal Canal that will connect St. Mochta’s Grove / Station Court located to the north with Riverwood Court Road to the south. A new standalone pedestrian and cycle bridge will be provided over the railway line and Royal Canal immediately adjacent to Coolmine Station.”

As well as our safety concerns, the excessive detour just to go shopping or indeed to access the city bound platform when travelling from the Ashtown Roundabout is significant.

Likewise residents with mobility difficulties unable to use the footbridge on the Rathbourne side of the track will have to cover an excessive journey simply to access the Westbound platform to Maynooth etc.

Conclusion

As things stand, the proposed plan is necessarily discriminatory against those with mobility impairments, and is bound to have a negative impact on the lives and independence of disabled pedestrians travelling in the Ashtown/Coolmine area.

We think it essential for safety and mobility/independence of the most vulnerable, that Irish Rail investigate the provision of an accessible footbridge at the to-be-closed Ashtown Level crossing in order to maintain seamless access for pedestrians.

Everyone has the right to safe access to their environment and equal participation in their community.

VVI’s concerns were put to Irish Rail on January 15th, and we await a response.

Categories
Submissions & observations

Learn about the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

What does it mean for people with Disabilities in Ireland? An
information webinar presented by the Disabled Persons Coalition (DPOCoalition).

This information webinar will take place on Wednesday 27th January, 7pm – 9pm.

You will get information about:

  • The Convention and what it means
  • How you can engage in the Government’s consultation on Ireland’s
  • Draft State Report
  • The DPO Coalition’s planned Shadow Report

Ireland’s Draft Initial State Report under the UN CRPD was published in December 2020 and is open for consultation until March 3rd 2021.

The DPO Coalition is one of four funded Disability Participation and Consultation Network members who will be making a submission on the State’s Draft Report.

The DPO Coalition is also developing an independent report that ‘shadows’ the State’s report and presents an alternative view of how the State has met its obligations under the Convention.

At the webinar we will inform you about further webinars, community consultations and focus group discussions.

What is the DPO Coalition?

The DPO Coalition is an alliance of disabled people and disabled peoples organisations (DPOs) which was established in 2020 to develop and submit a report to the United Nations (UN) on Ireland’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (CRPD).

Who should attend?

  • Disabled people
  • Anyone interested in the UN CRPD and its process
  • Anyone planning to contribute to the Irish Draft Initial State Party Report

How to Register

If you would like to register contact Independent Living Movement of
Ireland (ILMI) at info@ilmi.ie.

Categories
Submissions & observations

VVI Concerned About Covid Vaccine Plan

VVI (Voice of Vision Impairment) is Ireland’s national DPO for issues relating to the rights and needs of people with a visual impairment., and we have serious concerns regarding the accessibility of the Covid vaccination programme. These concerns are, along with the required solutions, are set out below:

In sum, they are:

  1. Neglect of the particular vulnerabilities of people with a visual impairment in the prioritization levels.
  2. Lack of planning to make vaccination centres reachable by people with severe visual impairments.
  3. Lack of planning for accessible consent process and accessible information for blind and partially sighted recipients of the vaccines.

More Details and Solutions

1. Prioritization:

In the Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups published by the Dept. of Health on December 7th, 2020, there is no acknowledgement of the heightened susceptability of people with a severe visual impairment to contracting covid.

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/#provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups

For example, people with a visual impairment cannot effectively socially distance when we are out and about, since the faculty of sight is the primary sense used in the fulfilment of a person’s social distancing requirements. Also, we often rely on touch much more, for navigation and stability/support, especially in enclosed environments such as public transport. Furthermore, when entering a public building, such as a supermarket, we cannot independently locate hand sanitizers.

Using the rationale and ethical principals laid out in the Dept. of Health document, people with a severe visual impairment, especially those living alone, or living on the streets, should be prioritized to at least the equivalent of level 9 on the current scale.

Level 9 applies to ‘People aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings’

Rationale: Disadvantaged sociodemographic groups more likely to experience a higher burden of infection.
Ethical Principles: The principles of moral equality, minimising harm (especially in the context of multi-generational households) and fairness are relevant. Prioritising this group recognises that structural inequalities make some people more vulnerable than others to COVID-19

While the situational specifics are clearly not identical, the rationale and ethical principles are clearly equivalent.

Solution:

We are concerned that the vulnerability of thousands with a severe visual impairment is not being recognized or factored into the current roll-out prioritisations. We ask that in the interest of public health and the safety of people with a visual impairment in the State, that this vulnerable sector be better prioritised in the roll-out, at least to the equivalent of what is currently level 9.

2. Accessibility of Vaccination Centres:

We have seen no evidence of planning for people with mobility impairments, including those with visual impairments, regarding how we are supposed to find our way to the vaccination centres. 86% of those with a severe visual impairment are not in official employment, and therefore, are at the lowest end of the socio-economic scale. The principle of moral equality means that we should not have to pay €50+ in taxi-fares in order to get to and from vaccination centres. With large hospital campuses, etc., taxi is usually the only way a blind person can independently access particular clinics etc.

Solution:

While an appointment is being made with a person who has a visual impairment, arrangements should be facilitated whereby a prepaid taxi will collect and return the person for whom the appointment is being made.

3. Accessible Information:

On an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on December 28th, 2020, the Tánaiste, Leo Veradkar, stressed the importance of consent forms to be signed by each person at the vaccination centre, and that when the vaccination had been given, the vaccinated person will be given an After-care advice leaflet and a vaccine record card.

All of this is verified in the HSE’s online information:

https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/

The State already has a legal obligation to provide all published material in accessible formats, including online, and in braille. There is no evidence of ongoing or planned work in this regard in the HSE’s advice information.

Solution:

Signed Consent: There are many alternatives to the traditional means of verification, but vaccinators need to be made aware of these alternatives in advance so that blind and partially sighted people receiving the vaccine can be facilitated, and not be discriminated against. VVI (Voice of Vision Impairment) is the only national DPO focussing specifically on the needs and rights of people with a visual impairment, and therefore, need to be prioritized in any consultations in this matter (see General Comment 7 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities). VVI is happy to advise the State in the alternatives to paper signatures, and all other relevant matters.

Accessible Information: Likewise, we in VVI are happy to fulfil our function by giving our expert advise on the needs of people with a visual impairment in relation to the production of accessible information.

Categories
Newsletter

VVI radio ad on LMFM

VVI placed radio ad’s on LMFM in a drive for new members
The ad was broadcast in 2020 between December 18th and 21st.

VVI ad for LMFM

Transcription of the ad:

Do you sometimes wonder why things aren’t accessible enough?

VVI. Voice of Vision Impairment wants to be a platform for your voice.

We are welcoming new members form County Meath and County Louth.

You can be part of the national and local decision-making process.

So, if you have a visual impairment and if you think that accessible is a right rather than a favour, join VVI today by emailing info@vvi.ie – to join us and make a difference.

That’s info at vvi dot i e.

For more information visit vvi.ie

Categories
Submissions & observations

VVI Bus Connects Observation

In repsonse to the National Transport Authority’s Bus Connects plan, VVI have raised a number of key concerns.

If concerns are not addressed it could have impacts for the most vulnerable pedestrians (including children under 10 and people over 75), as well as those with severe disabilities.

In our paper “VVI Bus Connects Observation, 2020.12” we outline these impacts and concerns.

Categories
Submissions & observations

State Publishes Draft Report on its Implementation of Convention on the Rights of Persons

On December 3rd, 2020, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth published the State’s Initial Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the progress made by the Irish Government in relation to realising the rights of disabled people outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

VVI (Voice of Vision Impairment) will be participating in providing feedback to the Department through “The Disability Participation and Consultation Network” in co-operation with the Disabled Person Coalition (DPO Coalition), of which VVI is a founder member.

The DPO Coalition has been funded to provide feedback to the Department of Justice on its draft document. The DPO Coalition is currently developing a consultation framework to ensure your opinions are communicated and make a difference. The DPO Coalition, through its member organizations, including VVI, will be asking for your involvement to talk about your lived experience, the challenges you face and the obstacles you are trying to overcome.

VVI currently only has a voluntary staff, but we are committed to doing our best to make sure that the voices of people with a visual impairment (including your voice), are heard.

These consultation meetings will happen early next year and we will be bringing you more news about how to get involved in January.

If you have a visual impairment and are interested in getting involved, or just finding out things as they happen, all you need to do is write to us at info@vvi.ie, and we’d love to have you as a member.

At the same time as this research work is going on, the DPO Coalition will also be developing its own “Shadow Report”. This report is not a Government report, it will be developed by the DPO members to give clear feedback to the UN committee on the members’ views of the Government’s progress.

VVI, ourselves,, will also be preparing our own, independent, shadow report on the State’s implementation of the CRPD, and again, the involvement of as many people with a visual impairment as possible will be greatly valued, and greatly enrich our report.

All of these projects will be an exciting opportunity for us to have our opinions and experience recognised and we look forward to getting you involved.

The members of the DPO coalition are:

As well as VVI (Voice of Vision Impairment), the current members of the DPO Coalition are:

  • As I Am
  • Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI)
  • Irish Deaf Society (IDS)
  • National Platform of Self Advocates
  • Disabled Women of Ireland (DWI)

Looking forward to hearing from you,
The VVI team

Categories
Submissions & observations

VVI’s Submission to Irish Rail’s Accessible Station Design Manual (July, 2020)

Here are links to a document that we in VVI have authored and have provided to Irish Rail.

Categories
Newsletter

Newsletter, May/June, 2020

Our website has been quiet in the past few months, but VVi’s reps have been very busy working on policy documents and position papers, and engaging in consultations regarding policies and decisions of statutory bodies.

New Rep: In April, VVI welcomed on board it’s eighth rep, Martin O’Sullivan, based in Dublin City. Martin has a distinguished record in activism on behalf of the rights and needs of people with a visual impairment.

Accessibility of Broadcasting Services: In March, 2020, one of our members, Robbie Sinnott, as a member of RTÉ’s Audience Council, was instrumental in getting RTÉ to employ its first Access Officer under the 2005 Disability Act. The same process also led to RTÉ committing to report on its Public Sector Equality Duty (2014 Human Rights and Equality Commission Act). Work is ongoing to secure a much better Audio Description service, and to ensure accessibility of RTÉ’s apps. Many thanks to Barry O’Donnell for his work on the latter.

Accessible Communications: VVI’s Dublin City reps were instrumental in getting Dublin City Council to acquire its own braille embosser so that it can communicate in a timely manner to its citizens who have braille as a preferred format. Thanks to Áine Wellard for her ongoing consultative work in perfecting the system. Visually impaired people use different forms of communication depending on individual preferences, and they all have equal validity.

Accessible Travel and Local Planning: In March, 2020, Gerry Shanahan became Tipperary PPN’s Social Inclusion representative on the Infrastructure Strategic Policy Committee of Tipperary County Council. This brings to three, so far, the number of members VVI has sitting on Strategic Policy Committees, since we already have two in Dublin City: Áine Wellard represents the PPN’s Social Inclusion pillar on the Housing SPC, and Robbie Sinnott represents all pillars on the Planning and Urban Form SPC (both since September, 2019).

In February, Robbie Sinnott (VVI’s Co-ordinator), gave a guest-lecture at the Dept. of Sociology in Trinity College Dublin, on Disabled Peoples Organizations and the social model of disability. Thanks to Edurne Garcia for facilitating this engagement with her Third Year module class.

Edurne Garcia also facilitated contact between VVI and the Inclusive Research Network, and on March 11th, VVI gave a presentation to IRN on what it means to VVI to be a DPO. We were clear that the short-term picture is not at all rosey, because the State has put non-DPOs in charge of the roll-out of the State’s engagement with DPOs. But, in the long-term, we are hopeful that the independent voice of service-users, and not service-providers, will win out as being genuine DPOs.

In January, 2020, VVI’s Robbie Sinnott spoke at the launch of the report “Making Rights Real for Prisoners with Disabilities,” which was produced by the Penal Reform Trust and commissioned by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Robbie had been on the advisory committee for the report. The two most marginalized groups in Ireland today are prisoners , and those with disabilities; and it could be argued that prison, as currently constituted, is an institution of deliberate disabling. However, even within that system there are people who have been socially disabled since birth – because of their impairments or neurodivergence, and these are truly the marginalized of the marginalized…the most disabled of all. They need to be listened to by us all. https://www.iprt.ie/iprt-publications/making-rights-real-for-people-with-disabilities-in-prison/

Categories
Submissions & observations

VVI Housing Policy

One of the other areas we have been working on is our Housing policy this is still in draft but please feel free to provide feedback on what we have done so far. Housing is an issue that is of concern to many in Ireland

Categories
Documentation

Our Constitution!

Hi we have been working on this for a while, let us know what you think by leaving a comment below