Lack of ac­ces­si­bil­ity mark­ings a dan­ger

VISU­ALLY IM­PAIRED TEEN MAY GIVE UP TRAIN­ING DUE TO OB­STA­CLES

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS - By MYLES BUCHANAN

A LACK of ac­ces­si­bil­ity mark­ings around Wick­low town may force a visu­ally im­paired ath­lete to quit his train­ing al­to­gether due to the per­ils he faces each dark evening.

The steps lead­ing up near the sail­ing club to be­side the Black Cas­tle present one dan­ger, while street fur­ni­ture in the form of gran­ite balls on Bach­e­lor’s Walk are an­other ob­sta­cle.

The teenager train­ing with Inbhear Dee Ath­letic Club has al­ready tripped twice over the gran­ite balls.

Eithne Walsh of Inbhear Dee is also the Chair of Fearch, a sup­port group for chil­dren with low or no vi­sion.

The ath­letic club first got in touch with Wick­low County coun­cil in early Au­gust about the lack of ac­ces­si­bil­ity mark­ings around the town, in the hope that works would be car­ried out be­fore the clocks went back.

They also wrote to the lo­cal au­thor­ity in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. They re­ceived a re­ply each time, but so far no works have taken place.

‘Peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties aren’t look­ing for sym­pa­thy. All they want is ac­cess and to be treated equally. It’s im­por­tant to keep pro­vid­ing sport­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Un­for­tu­nately this teenager may have to quit be­cause of the dan­gers around the town. This ath­lete has tripped over the balls twice al­ready. Does he have to be taken away in an am­bu­lance be­fore some­thing gets done?

‘Un­der the dis­abil­ity Act of 2005 ac­cess to pub­lic build­ings and towns and their en­vi­rons be­came a right for all peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity,’ said Ms Walsh.

She be­lieves the steps by the sail­ing club should have lines on them to in­di­cate their depth and to pro­vide con­trast so a visu­ally im­paired per­son can use them safely. Cllr Mary Ka­vanagh has also raised is­sues over a lack of light­ing be­side the steps at Wick­low Mu­nic­i­pal District meet­ings, stress­ing that there had been two bad falls on the same steps re­cently in­volv­ing el­derly mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

‘The gran­ite balls on Bach­e­lor’s Walk have no mark­ings and are the same colour as the pave­ment, there­fore they are a death trap for a visu­ally im­paired run­ner in the dusk or dark,’ said Ms Walsh.

‘The cor­rect mark­ings and re­flec­tive badges need to be put on these of­fend­ing items so our ath­letes can con­tinue their train­ing in a safe en­vi­ron­ment. Some ac­tion needs to be taken by Wick­low County Coun­cil, oth­er­wise we may have no choice but to paint the steps our­selves.’

Eithne Walsh and An­n­marie Kelly from Inbhear Dee Ath­letic Club at the steps near the Black Cas­tle.

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