Businesses implementing social distancing asked to keep people with disabilities in mind

Galway Daily news Businesses implementing social distancing asked to keep people with disabilities in mind

Businesses in Galway City are being asked to keep accessibility for people with disabilities in mind when implementing social distancing measures.

The request from the City Council, Galway Chamber, and Access for All comes after the awareness group had a meeting with the City Mobility Team about the issues people with a disability can face on a daily basis due to necessary social distancing measures.

Social distancing measures such as changed access routes, keeping a proper distance from other, and seating arrangement can pose difficulties for people with, for instance, vision impairment or mobility issues.

Many people with a disability plan out their journey around the city in advance and have a regular routine in place, and any unexpected change or unnecessary obstacle to this can have a significant impact on someone’s day” commented Marian Maloney from Access for All.

The general public are being asked to have consideration for the additional challenges faced by people with disabilities as they try to deal with measures and restrictions resulting from COVID-19 crisis, by doing things like:

  • Avoid parking in parking spaces designated for people with disabilities
  • Avoid blocking footpaths with illegal parking
  • Recognise that not all disabilities are visible and that some people may have difficulty seeing signage and judging distances
  • Allow time and space to people with disabilities in queues for public transport
  • Be considerate of the fact that guide dogs are not trained to socially distance
  • Verbal communication is essential and can avoid miscommunication and confusion

Kenny Deery, CEO Galway Chamber said that while businesses are experiencing the “economic shock of their lives” in this pandemic, for many people it can be all the more challenging to try and move around town as normal.

“This initiative shines a light on some of what we’ve taken for granted, the unique physical and sensory capabilities individuals live with and the changes to our society as we now know them.”

Mayor of Galway City Mike Cubbard said that there are approximately 11,000 people living with a disability in the city, along with older people who experience mobility issues.

“Many of these have spent the past 3 months cocooning as a result of government recommendations and are nervous as they emerge back into society and our city.”

There is also the fact that many of the people visiting Galway City this summer as tourism and hospitality get back off the ground will also have issues, he added.

Some of the measures businesses are being asked to consider are:

  • Installing hand sanitisers for the public to use at a level that takes wheelchair users into account
  • Making staff aware of the issues faced by people with disabilities in relation to signage and queuing and to be cognisant of  potentially hidden disabilities
  • Ensuring any new measures introduced, in-store or on-street do not have an impact on the accessibility of the business
  • Making sure accessible toilets are opened and available