Irish Wheelchair Association launch of The Great Outdoors - A guide for Accessibility in conjunction with Sport Ireland

The ‘Great Outdoors, A guide for Accessibility’ produced by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) Sports and Access departments with the support of Sport Ireland and the Dormant Accounts Fund has been launched by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan, Griffin TD, at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.

The ‘Great Outdoors, A guide for Accessibility’ highlights the importance of accessibility across Ireland. People with disabilities want to lead fully independent lives and rightfully expect to be able to participate in a range of outdoor activities, sporting pursuits and family trips in the same manner as their family, neighbours and friends.

Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty and breath-taking coastlines. Unfortunately, the incredible Irish landscapes are often rugged and remote making accessing the great outdoors and engaging in outdoor pursuits can be challenging, particularly for people who may have a range of disabilities. The details within the guide provides accessibility information, advice and guidance to organisations and individuals responsible for outdoor environments including, trails, greenways, public parks, beaches, waterways and the built environment.

Minister Brendan Griffin was joined at the launch by IWA CEO, Rosemary Keogh, Sport Ireland Chief Executive, John Treacy, IWA-Sport Executive Committee Chairperson, Declan Slevin, IWA Director of Sport, Nicky Hamill, Sport Ireland Director of Participation and Ethics, Dr Una May and Sport Ireland Trails Manager, Cormac McDonnell.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Griffin said: “Ireland is renowned for its scenic landscapes and natural beauty and our great outdoors provides excellent opportunities for people to get active. I am delighted to launch this important document, which provides expert guidance in the provision of outdoor facilities and amenities in a way that they can be enjoyed by all members of society no matter what their circumstances. The Government’s new National Sports Policy 2018-2027 places an emphasis on making sure that sport and physical activity is accessible to all and this guide will ensure a proactive approach to providing opportunities for everyone to get active. I would like to commend both the Irish Wheelchair Association and Sport Ireland on the publication of this document.”

Sport Ireland Chief Executive, John Treacy, added: “In Ireland we are fortunate to have many scenic national and public parks, beaches, forests, canals, trails and areas where people can connect with nature and be active outdoors. This document, which has been developed by the Irish Wheelchair Association with support from Sport Ireland, provides practical advice and guidance in the development of public spaces, which will see more people with any disability visiting and being active in the great Irish outdoors. I would like to thank the Irish Wheelchair Association for their work on this comprehensive guidance and look forward to its implementation across the country.”

Speaking at the launch Rosemary Keogh, IWA CEO said, “Irish Wheelchair Association has a vision of an Ireland where people with disabilities enjoy equal rights, choices and opportunities in how they live their lives, where our country is a model worldwide for a truly inclusive society. We are delighted to launch ‘The Great Outdoors, A guide for Accessibility’ today. This important document provides developers and planners with detailed technical and practical advice across a range of environments on how we can make Ireland more accessible to everyone. IWA wish to thank Sport Ireland and the Dormant Account funds for their support and to thank the many organisations and agencies who contributed towards the project”.

The Irish Wheelchair Association and Sport Ireland will work in conjunction with Cara and the national network of Sports Inclusion Disability Officers to promote ‘Great Outdoors, A guide for Accessibility’ and raise awareness of the measures which can be taken to encourage more people with a disability to be active with family and friends in the outdoors.

Download ‘The Great Outdoors, A guide for Accessibility’ here.