"The views of people with disabilities must be clearly heard by Government when developing any policy or services that impact on their lives."

We need to promote ‘Zero Barriers’ and provide for the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues. Disability is a rights issue and not a matter of discretion. This approach is also at the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The Government is taking many actions in this area including completing the value for money audit, introducing mental capacity legislation and seeking to ratify the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities.I believe that the best policies will come from people who experience the challenges associated with a disability on a daily basis. This approach ensures that barriers are broken down and that equality becomes a reality, not just an aspiration.

Finding and keeping jobs

Just 28% of people with disabilities of working age are in employment compared with almost two-thirds of people without a disability.  Yet with a little more help millions of disabled Irish people could enter or re-enter the jobs market.WAM is a graduate placement programme for people with disabilities, run by AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access & Disability).   As a founding member of AHEAD, while a student in UCD, I am very proud of its record in making education accessible to all. The WAM programme has successfully placed over 175 graduates with disabilities in work placements over the last seven years. Many of these young people have secured full time employment as a result.

Education for all

The promotion of equal access to quality education is vital and lifelong learning will enable disabled people to participate fully in society and improve their quality of life.The government supports the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream education. 

Access to published works 

I fully support the work that the World Intellectual Property Organisation has done in negotiating an international instrument on copyright limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities in order to improve access to works protected by copyright for persons with a print disability.  Persons with print disabilities should have equal access to published works and we need to expand as a matter of urgency the number of published works in accessible formats and to improve access to those works.The international community must recognise the opportunities and challenges for persons with a print disability presented by the development of new information and communication technologies, including technological publishing and communication platforms that are transnational in nature.In support of this work I attach herewith the Motion that I have tabled in the Seanad on this matter.