Connecting Universal Access Groups: A Digital Dawn

February 8 2021, 12:39pm

A group of people with disabilities sitting in a circle having a discussion

During 2020 DFI’s Community Development team held 1 National and 4 Regional Universal Access Network meetings with 38 Access Groups connecting online. The Network provides invaluable knowledge of how to consult with Local Government, Chambers of Commerce, and other stakeholders to develop and implement inclusive plans and actions. 


Image: A group of people with Disabilities


Each Access Group has a unique local membership including

  • Disabled people,
  • Disability activists,
  • Disability service providers,
  • Local Authority employees such as Access and Social Inclusion Officers,
  • Public Participation Networks,
  • Local Development Companies
  • Age-Friendly Alliance groups.


Issues in 2020

  • The negative impact of Covid-19 restrictions on access
  • Social distancing and changes to the footpaths
  • The use of “shared spaces” between pedestrians and cyclists
  • Accessible toilets and disabled parking bays
  • Public transport for essential journeys
  • Health services such as Occupational Therapists
  • Local Government services including housing maintenance
  • Technology and assistive technology, education, work placements and employment


DFI brings Access Groups together to:

  • A shared pace to discuss key issues, arising from their work locally, which have a national dimension
  • Support groups in tackling common issues more effectively as a collective voice
  • Providing resources on statistics, information, policy position papers and develop plan submissions etc
  • Highlight issues at key committees nationally and locally


The Community Development team attend Access Group meetings around the country including

  • Carlow,
  • Kilkenny,
  • Tipperary,
  • Waterford,
  • Galway
  • Wicklow

DFI Community Development team provides advice and support with setting up a Universal Access group. In Mayo DFI’s Edel Killarney is working with people with disabilities, disability service providers, Mayo County Council and other stakeholders to set up a new Access Group in Mayo.



To follow or direct message Universal Access Groups on social media Universal Access Groups Social Media Handles are here

County Kildare Access Strategy 2020-2022

Irish Wheelchair Association’s Best Practice Access Guidelines, Edition 4

IHREC guidance note on C-19 Public Sector and Equality and Human Rights Duty

A generic template letter for Access Groups to seek participation and consultation with Local Government and other stakeholders on Universal Access planning.


For more information contact