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The Disability Act (2005) requires public bodies to ensure, over time, that buildings and services are accessible to people with disabilities. It places an obligation on local authorities to integrate disability service provision with mainstream services, where this is practical and appropriate. An objective of the County Galway Local Authorities Disability Action Plan 2007 – 2015 is to integrate service provision to ensure people with disabilities can access the same level of service as all customers. Within our Action Plan we have given a commitment to develop a policy on accessible information. To provide an effective service we must ensure that customers can access our services in a manner that suits their needs. This means accommodating any specific requirements, language, or accessibility needs.
Disability Act requirements
Section 28 (1)(a)
Each public body is required to ensure, as far as practicable, that information which is orally provided to the public is provided in an accessible format, where so requested by persons with hearing impairments.
Hearing impairments can range from minor difficulties with hearing normal speech or particular sound frequencies to profound deafness. Many individuals with impaired hearing can lip read; some use hearing aids and some visual support (such as text phones or real time captioning); others may require sign language interpreters.
Section 28 (1)(b)
Each public body is required to ensure, as far as practicable, that written information and communications which it provides to the public is communicated in an accessible format, where so requested by persons with visual impairments.
Section 28 (3)
Each public body must ensure that, as far as practicable, information which it publishes which is directly relevant to persons with intellectual disabilities, is made available to them in clear language that they easily understand.
Section 26 (1)(c) Expert Advice
A public body must, where appropriate, ensure the availability of appropriate expertise and skills to advise it in relation to making its services accessible. Such expertise can be made available within the organisation, or, where appropriate, sourced externally.
The Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and information provided by Public Bodies provides further information on how a public sector body is expected to meet these requirements.
Printed information in forms and leaflets is one of the most important and useful methods of communicating information to customers. In many cases the method of communication used by organisations is inaccessible to certain members of the community, in particular people with disabilities.
The Council will ensure that information will be provided in an accessible manner when speaking to a person with a hearing impairment. Location of induction loops in public buildings will be noted to those who require such assistance.
Disability Awareness training will be provided on an ongoing basis and included in the annual training plan.
All Galway County Council publications will be written in as clear and jargon free a language as possible. Requests for ‘plain English’ versions of forms, reports and publications can be made to the Access Officer.
Where practicable and appropriate, all information available to the public will be available in an accessible format on request, including accessible HTML, Large Print, Easy-to-Read format, Braille, Audio file and other formats, if requested.
Appropriate assistance will be provided to people with disabilities to access information on the wide range of services that are provided by the Council. Sign language interpreters may be provided for public events, meetings, interviews and other events where necessary and where requested in advance. Sign Language Interpreters will accept and abide by the organisation’s confidentiality policy.
It is not feasible for all public documents to be readily available in all formats. Galway County Council will make readily available the following documents in Braille and Audio:
- Corporate Plan
- County Development Plan
- Customer Action Plan
- Social Inclusion Strategy
- Disability Action Plan
- Annual Report
- Annual Budget
- Guide to your Services
Documents available on request in alternative format may include:
- Application forms for all services
- Information and Guidance leaflets on services
- Drafts of policy documents
- Galway County Council Unit Policy / Strategy / Action Plans
Examples of Accessible Formats available
- HTML and other electronic formats such as Plain Text.
- Large Print Version in English (at least 16 point)
- Easy-to-Read version
- Audio version in English
- Other alternative formats as may be requested
It may also be possible to have certain documents translated into core foreign languages, where requested.
- Ensure that significant policy and strategy documents and reports are readily available in a range of accessible formats.
- Ensure that all new documentation is completed in line with accessibility standards. Resource documents such as the NDA “First Steps in Producing Accessible Publications” and the RNIB “See it Right” Guidelines will be used as reference points for completion of such documents.
- Avail of the expertise of reputed and experienced organisations involved in the conversion of documents to alternative format to ensure full accessibility is achieved wherever possible. Openly advertise the availability of information in accessible formats to staff and members of the public.
- Establish a procedure for requesting information in accessible formats. Advertise the availability of this service and ensure that all staff are trained in the receipt and operation of such requests.
- Ensure that all information and documents available on our website is available in a format that can be used in conjunction with adaptive technology.
This policy will be evaluated on a regular basis through the following methods:-
- Keeping a record of requests for alternative information and information in alternative languages.
- Monitoring our website to review demand for information in alternative formats.
- Request and consider feedback received from the public on the usefulness and benefit of providing information in an accessible format.
- Informing members of our Disability Advisory Group of changes in relation to legislation and policy regarding accessibility in provision of information.