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Learning disabled to perform local access audit

Kenneth Meade, Seán McLoughlin, Mayor of Shannon, Helena McInerney, Dermot Maguire, Trish Dillon, town councillor Greg Duff and Kareema and Aliyah Belazi at the launch of the Shannon Access Project. Photograph by Declan Monaghan
AN audit of access around the town of Shannon is to be carried out by learning disabled researchers over the next few months.
The initiative was launched at the Town Hall on Wednesday and research coordinator Rob Hopkins said it would seek to look at things from the point of view of people who have disabilities and other problems with access.
“We have people with physical disability, people with temporary disabilities, people with learning disabilities who also have physical disabilities, parents and toddlers, there’s a range of people with access issues. It’s only when you start looking that they emerge and it’s only when you’re put in a difficult situation that these things start to emerge.”
He said it is not intended to
embarrass anyone through the audit.
“We don’t want to name and shame anyone, we just want to provide a service. People who are themselves experiencing access problems will know best, we’re coming from that premise. They will be able to tell us where the places are around the town that they’ve found difficulty. We’ll just list those things and circulate it to the places where people have the responsibility to make access better, but we won’t be publishing it or making it public. It’ll be a service to the public.”
The audit is expected to be completed by November, with some interim findings expected in the summer.
Gerry McInerney lives in Cronan Park and has been wheelchair bound for two and a half years. He says there is a range of difficulties resulting from the disability.
“You don’t notice any problems until you’re in a wheelchair yourself. I have a difficulty with footpaths, I have to go on the road. There are cracks on footpaths, you could blame it on the cold weather but they were there long before that. After I leave home on the way up to St Conaire’s school, there’s a hole that’s six to eight inches deep. I have to look behind me and go on the road to get around it. I can’t get to Limerick or Ennis for my appointments because I can’t get an accessible bus.”
Mayor of Shannon Sean McLoughlin attended the launch and he welcomed the audit.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the councillors to see what the people with special needs require in Shannon. We know about paths and things like that but there are things like discrimination in shops with people not getting served when they’re disabled. We’ll all have to change our attitudes and we will be fully behind this.”
The audit will be known as the Fáilte Shannon Access Project and requests will be going out to civic and commercial facilities around Shannon over the next month. Once the data has been collected, a research brochure will be published, accompanied by a short documentary film of the researchers in action.


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