The Right Living Space
Issued on November 1 2007
This report is based on a joint study between the Citizens Information Board (formerly Comhairle) and Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI). The focus of the report is on the housing and accommodation1 needs of people with disabilities as experienced by people with disabilities and their families as well as by voluntary and community organisations working with them.
A three-pronged methodological approach was used in the study to gain insight into the social realities and experiences of people with disabilities and their families - a survey of voluntary/community organisations, focus groups (involving people with disabilities and voluntary/community organisation representatives) and identification of case examples.
There was wide consultation with people with disabilities and with a diverse group of organisations working in the disability field. Some of the organisations consulted are housing service providers, others provide complementary support services and for some the main focus is on advocacy on behalf of their members. Feedback based on the experience of users of Citizens Information Services (CIS) throughout the country was an integral part of the study.
The report highlights key factors which impact on the ability of people with disabilities to access accommodation appropriate to their needs. It points to a need for new thinking which would address the accommodation and related support needs of people with disabilities in the context of social inclusiveness, equality of access and the provision of accessible and integrated living environments. This approach would be significantly different to the approach which sees the accommodation needs of people with disabilities being met primarily in the context of ''special needs housing''.
The study findings confirm and expand on many issues relating to the accommodation needs of people with disabilities that have been identified in recent years by both the voluntary/community disability sector and by Government. Areas where existing policies have fallen short are highlighted in the report. The main challenges for the emerging housing policy agenda in respect of people with disabilities are outlined and key pointers for policy-makers seeking to address these challenges are provided.