Access to buildings for people with disabilities has attracted considerable attention in recent years. A great deal of work has been done to improve the accessibility of public buildings for people with disabilities.
Many public bodies have done accessibility audits and related improvement works in order to meet their obligations under Section 25 of the Disability Act 2005. Equality legislation enacted over the last decade also requires public bodies to provide for the needs of their employees and customers with disabilities. In many cases, public bodies are aiming to go beyond their minimum legal obligations to create environments that are universally accessible to as wide a group as possible.
This period of improvement in the accessibility of buildings presents a considerable opportunity to implement measures to ensure prompt and safe evacuation for everybody in the event of an evacuation or emergency situation. Ensuring safe, independent and dignified evacuation in an emergency is a complex issue, requiring consideration of a broad range of factors, including the design and usage of a building, the training of staff and the provision of appropriate equipment and facilities. Those responsible for buildings must ensure safe evacuation for all. This requires consideration of the needs of everyone using the building, particularly the specific requirements of people with disabilities and people of all ages and sizes.
The National Disability Authority is the independent state body providing expert advice on disability policy and practice to the Minister, and promoting Universal Design in Ireland, further information can be found on the National Disability Authority website http://www.nda.ie also the National Disability Authority have the Safe Evacuation For All A Planning and Management Guide available for download at the following link http://www.nda.ie/evacuation.