Sunday 21 October 2018

Lack of accessibility markings a danger

Visually impaired teen may give up training due to obstacles

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

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.'

Wicklow People