16. Supplementary Checklist of Accessibility- Related Law, Guidelines, and Research

Table of contents

16.1 Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is relevant in several respects:

  • Article 2: Universal Design, see 15.2 above, and universaldesign.ie
  • Article 4 (as clarified by General Comment 7): Close consultation with DPOs at all stages of a proposal. See Sections 1 and 2 above.
  • Article 5: non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation.
  • Article 9: Access to the Environment
  • Article 19: Independent Living
  • Article 20: Personal Mobility.

16.2 Public transport regulation act (2009)

Where any service-provider refuses to provide a reasonable accommodation which would make the difference in a disabled person The Public Transport Regulation Act (2009, S29.1) ‘in exercising its functions, the authority [i.e., the NTA] shall seek to achieve the following objectives:

An example of how the Equal Status Act can be used to protect the rights

  • the development of an integrated transport system which contributes to environmental sustainability and social cohesion, and promotes economic progress;
  • the provision of a well-functioning, attractive integrated, and safe public transport system of networks and services for all users;
  • improved access to the transport system, and in particular, to public passenger transport services by persons with disabilities.
  • increased use of the public transport system;
  • […] g). increased recourse to cycling and walking as means of transport[…].

In particular, here, we draw attention to point b), safe access to public transport networks and systems by all, which is complementary to the concept of Universal Design. We do, however, think that the protection of the safety rights of disabled people should be more explicit, so that planners are not under the misapprehension that their job is to balance the absolute needs of disabled people with the desires borne by the planners’ own favourite modes of transport.

It should also be made clear that increased walking and cycling does not necessarily mean restricted access to vehicles, since the same goals are possible with restricted permissions dependent on classes of vehicle types and ownership.

16.3. EU Web Accessibility Directive, 2016/2102) & European Accessibility Act (2019)

The Public Transport Regulation Act (2009, S29.1) ‘in exercising its Regarding the provision of information, The Websites Accessibility Directive (2016), and the European Accessibility Act (2019/882) lay out obligations on statutory bodies in the provision of online and other information and services so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.

We are not convinced by the relevant standard, WCAG 2.0, which is supposed to underpin web accessibility. The WCAG system is self-policing, and we have encountered several national public transport providers who have claimed in a judicial setting that their websites were WCAG compliant, only to later admit that crucial information on their websites was inaccessible.

In sum, authorities need to be aware of these directives, but VVI believes that they do not go far enough.

16.4. Arhus Convention

The three pillars of this legislation are

  • right to information on plans.
  • right to a safe environment.
  • right to access a tribunal to challenge infringements of the a and b.

16.5. EU Planning Regulations (including 2014/52/eu)

Statutory bodies need to pay particular attention to the safety of humans in their design, as well as the precautionary principle which means that if there is uncertainty as to threats to human safety in a proposal, such possible threats need to be removed from the design.

16.6. European Communities access to information on the Environment Regulations (2007)

This statutory instrument (s.i. 133, 2007), obliges the relevant planning authorities to supply environmental information relating to any plan or decision, etc., to a member of the public.

16.7. European Convention of Human Rights Act (2003)

  • Article 8 of the ECHR guarantees each of us the right to a private life;
  • Article 11 guarantees each of us the right to freedom of assembly and association;
  • Article 14 bans discrimination, on grounds of disability, i.e., as our rights under Articles 8 and 11 are being interfered with.

16.8. The Constitution of Ireland, Article 43.1

The Constitution of Ireland, Article 43.1: right to an environment consistent with human dignity and well-being. (as recognized in recent case of Friends of the Irish Environment vs. Fingal County Council (2017).

16.9. Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, 2012

For example, regarding general lack of “injury data” relating to cyclists and pedestrians, the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, 2012 (TFEU, Article 191.2) that EU policy on the environment should be based on the Precautionary Principle.

16.10: The Disability Act (2005), and National Disability Authority Code Of Practice (2006)

Part 3 of the Disability Act, which is clarified by the NDA Code of Practice (2006), sets out obligations on statutory bodies for, inter alia:

  • access to and from public buildings for people with disabilities;
  • proactive Access Officers who inform their statutory body of its obligations under the Disability Act;
  • consultation with disability stakeholders in outsourcing and tendering of contracts so that particular specifications can be included;
  • all information that the statutory body is responsible for publishing, in general, needs to be in accessible formats, including in braille and varying online formats suitable for screenreading technology.

16.11. National Cycle Manual (2011)

Regarding shared space/surfaces etc., including between cyclists and pedestrians, see National Cycle Manual 1.9.

For pedestrian access to bus stops without having to run the gauntlet of cyclists, see National Cycle Manual, 5.1.

16.12. University College London Report for UK Guide Dogs for the Blind (2009)

This report, based on empirical research, show that guide-dogs need a minimum of 60mm kerbs in order to distinguish between footway and carriageway.

16.13. Trinityhaus Report for CEUD (2012)

The TrinityHaus Report into ‘shared surfaces’ in Ireland (2012), commissioned by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD),is the most comprehensive empirical research to this issue as it effects people with disabilities in an Irish context. It effectively advises against shared spaces because they are hazardous to people with disabilities. The Holmes Report (2015), was commissioned by the British Government, and comes to the same conclusions.

16.14. Holmes Report (2015)

This report was commissioned by the British government in to the impact of shared spaces on people with a visual impairment. It finds that shared space is intrinsically unsafe for people with a visual impairment, and also finds that signal crossings need to be used wherever possible, again to ensure the safety and confidence of pedestrians with a visual impairment.

16.15. European Charter of Pedestrians’ Rights (1998)

This is a useful document including considerations of the compatibility of environmental sustainability with the accessibility rights of disabled pedestrians.