“Not All Disabilities Are Visible”
Thursday, 03 December 2020 is International Day of Persons With Disabilities, an annual occasion designated to join together to support people with disability in our communities, and raise awareness of the importance of creating a future where people with disabilities experience equal opportunity and face no barriers in all aspects of their lives, whether it be going about their day-to-day lives with adequate accessibility in their communities, joining the workforce, or being able to showcase their abilities and reach their goals without facing barriers.
The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Not All Disabilities Are Visible” which focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15% of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect.
Another 69 million individuals are estimated to sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries each year worldwide, while 1 in 160 children are identified as on the autism spectrum.
These are just some examples of the millions of people currently living with a disability that is not immediately apparent, and a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.
According to the census 2016, the total population with a disability in Kildare is 27,768 i.e. 12.5% of the population.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities right around the world. Spreading awareness of invisible disabilities, as well as these potentially detrimental and not always immediately apparent impacts to mental health, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the virus.
Kildare County Council in partnership with County Kildare Access Network (CKAN) have organised a number of events to mark the day and to raise awareness across our own community.
CKAN are a network of individuals made up of representatives from the 5 local access groups in County Kildare and organisations working towards making County Kildare inclusive and fully accessible to all.
As a group they support the removal of physical, attitudinal and communication barriers for all. Working closely as stakeholders with Kildare County Council they regularly participate in street audits to monitor the ongoing development and improvement of our own infrastructure.
The group also work with local businesses and disability organisations such as IWA, KARE, NCBI in identifying priority accessibility issues locally.
CKAN have an excellent collaborative working relationship with Michael Hurley, Access Officer with Kildare County Council and were instrumental in the development of the County Kildare Access Strategy ‘A Universal Access Approach 2020-2022’ which will be launched on Thursday, 03 December 2020 to coincide with International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Our Vision is that County Kildare is universal to all and recognised as a leader in universal accessibility. Our Mission is to support the removal of physical, attitudinal and communication barriers for all.
In 2020 CKAN and Kildare County Council were the proud winners of the IPB and LAMA All Ireland Community and Council Award for “Access and Inclusion” and were also the overall winner of the Grand Prix Award with our entry ‘Working to make County Kildare Inclusive and Accessible to all’.
CKAN and Kildare County Council, proudly working together received the highest level of recognition from judges overall and we hope this will be the platform on which we can build future successes.
Events planned for the day include:
- Light County Kildare Purple
- Aras Chill Dara
- Newbridge Town Hall
- Maynooth College Spire
- Maynooth University Campus Building
- Naas Ball
- Train Station Maynooth
- The Wonderful Barn-Leixlip
Landmark buildings will be flooded in purple lights in a salute to 643,131 people in Ireland, (over 13% of the population) who live with a disability. Some examples of landmarks which are participating in Kildare include:
As not everyone will be in a position to turn a landmark purple, other ways to mark the event could include:
- Wearing a piece of purple clothing
- Decorating your premises/shop front windows in purple
- Display message on digital notice boards in support of day.
- Purple background for virtual meetings
We have a three-step plan to get anyone and everyone involved:
- Take a photo of yourself/building in the purple haze as well as mentioning the organisations housed inside.
- Post images and videos to social media using the hashtags:
- From anywhere, anyone can take a photo and use filters on their smart phone to go purple and show their support.
- Fly the Flag
To help mark the day and to raise awareness further we will partake in a number of additional promotions which will include:
- The County Kildare Access Network Flag to be flown in prominent locations across the county.
- The County Kildare Access Network Face Covering to be distributed.
- Large banners to be placed on the access roads into main towns across the county
- Launch of the County Kildare Access Strategy 2020- 2022
- Athy Access Group
- Celbridge Access Group
- Naas Access Group
- Newbridge Access Group
- Maynooth Access Group
In May 2019 Kildare County Council held a workshop to which a broad range of stakeholders were invited to attend from within KCC (elected members and officials), other statutory bodies, community and voluntary sector agencies, and disability access groups. Disabled people were at the heart of this process and they were given the platform to influence policymakers and service providers.
The purpose of the workshop was to identify the key challenges and accessibility/disability issues faced by disabled people in Kildare around six key areas of focus which included:
- Public Awareness, Education and Communication
- Transportation and Public Realm
- Community, Culture and Heritage
- Economic Development, Enterprise and Planning
- Partnership and Collaboration
- Housing and Services
Under the six headings a series of objectives and actions were identified to which a specific owner and a timeframe for completion was assigned. Addressing these actions will in essence help in creating an environment where disabled people can have the opportunity to work and to live a full life with family and as part of their community.
The strategy we are launching today is not only the culmination of the information gathered at this workshop but also numerous collaborative meetings, workshops, information gathering events between Kildare County Council and the 5 local access groups in Kildare which include:
We believe in Kildare County Council that working collaboratively with disability advocates will help us deliver our shared commitment that no section of our community is left behind in the future delivery of our services.