Launch of the Excellence through Accessibility Award by President McAleese
President of Ireland, Mary McAleese today (Oct. 5, 2005) officially launched the "Excellence through Accessibility" Award which has been developed by the National Disability Authority, in partnership with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
The aim of the Award is to acknowledge those Government Departments and Agencies under their remit that have taken steps to make their services more accessible to people with disabilities.
The "Excellence through Accessibility" (EtA) scheme has been developed to establish best practice models in accessibility for public services to aspire to.
The Award seeks to promote and reward a clear focus on and commitment to continuous improvement in the accessibility of public services at all levels in participating organisations.
The NDA, in consultation with people with disabilities, has developed guidelines and criteria for the award scheme that takes account of three critical areas that are common to all organisations:
- Access to Quality Customer Services
- Access to the Built Environment
- Access to services delivered via Information and Communication Technology
The NDA has also developed an assessment tool that the EtA auditors will use when assessing an applicant organisation against these guidelines and criteria. All Departments and the Agencies under their remit are being encouraged to improve the accessibility of their services and to apply for the Award. Successful organisations will be awarded one of three levels:
- Committed through Accessibility
- Quality through Accessibility
- Excellence through Accessibility
The Chairperson of the NDA, Ms Angela Kerins said:
The National Disability Authority is delighted to partner the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in these "Excellence through Accessibility" Awards for Government Departments and Agencies under their remit.
We are delighted at the response to the awards and are looking forward to a large number of entries from Government Departments and their Agencies throughout the country. It is very encouraging that there is an increasing recognition among all providers of services which the public use, that removing barriers promotes equality and makes life easier and safer for everyone and that includes people with disabilities, older people and the young.
These awards will recognise those who seek out and remove barriers that exist for people with disabilities in accessing their services and who do so in a constructive, innovative way that goes beyond minimal compliance, to provide fully accessible services. They will recognise where public bodies use their imagination and skill to provide the best possible service to all of their customers, taking into account a diverse range of specific need.
I believe that it is important to recognise good practice and to showcase it so that others can replicate it and it becomes a standard that everyone strives for. Good practice in accessibility leads to better services for everyone.
The last census indicated that 8.3% of the population had significant disabilities. Providing information and services in a user-friendly way that responds to the needs of people with disabilities will increase customer satisfaction with the Government Department or Agency. A Department or Agency that understands the diverse needs of its customers, including its customers with disabilities will provide a better quality of service to everyone.
Everyone, whether they have a disability or not, has experienced some form of challenge when trying to access a service. By looking at customers' needs, consulting and developing a plan to deliver accessible service, Government Departments and Agencies can ensure a better service for everyone as well as specifically eliminating any barriers to particular individuals. It is our hope that this award will become coveted by Government Departments and the agencies under their remit, recognising commitment, achievement and excellence through accessibility.
The Awards will be announced early in the New Year.
Page last updated: 05/05/2011