ILMI eBulletin October 21st 2022

ILMI Logo Independent Living Movement Ireland. Freedom Rights Empowerment

Creating Sustainable Cities and Towns needs to embed principles of accessibility and inclusion

Welcome efforts to reduce climate impact are creating unreasonable difficulties on the free movement of disabled pedestrians and disabled motorists and passengers

Open letter from Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson

I am writing this open letter as chair of ILMI to raise concerns about how the Government’s lead in progressing climate change in terms of trying to reduce reliance on cars in towns and cities is having unintended negative consequences on the lives of disabled people. ILMI as a human-rights organisation recognises the urgent need to decarbonise our society to try and mitigate the effects of climate change but are calling for leadership to ensure that changes to our towns and cities do not undermine our commitments to the inclusion of disabled people in Ireland under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Proposed changes in the area of environmental plans often have a disproportionate impact on disabled people as pedestrians and users of the car. Hard-fought gains by disabled people over decades in terms of the safety of our pedestrian areas and parking spaces were steadily eroded over the last two years.  Temporary changes to our public areas made during the phases of managing Covid-19 are now translating into sometimes unwelcome permanency. We as disabled people are being denied access to our towns and cities by pavements restricted to our ease of movement due to new allowances permitted for unregulated external dining.

Our disabled parking spaces are being removed to locations with no reference to where and why the original location was a place of most assistance to facilitate disabled people to access the centres of towns and cities. The promotion of “floating” bus stops which impede disabled people and people with limited mobility in safely accessing public transport and the promotion of dangerous “shared spaces” are directly impacting our ability as disabled people to participate with our accustomed ease of freedom in society.  These are but a sample of a massive problem of restricting the mobility of tens of thousands of disabled people and people of older years.

Assistive Technology & Environmental Control’s: Freedom & Choice Session Marking 30 years of Independent Living

IMAGE: screenshot of group

In our third Freedom & Choice Session Marking 30 years of Independent Living (IL) in Ireland we had Siobhan Long and Karl O’Keefe (Assistive Technology Dept in Enable Ireland) come and talk to us about the importance of Assistive Technology & Environmental Control’s to disabled people.

Assistive Technology & Environmental Control’s is a part of everyone’s lives but for disabled people these can be live changing, from asking Alexa to turn on and of lights, control your TV to wearable technologies that support you to navigate environments. The possibilities are endless…

Look out for the recording of this session on our website in the coming weeks!

Useful links

PowerPoint presentation

Support for people with non-standard speech using Smart Assistants Home – Voiceitt

Very useful introduction to Smart Homes for disabled people

The Power of Alexa

IMAGE: poster with text that reads “FREEDOM and CHOICE marking 30 years of Independent Living in Ireland! Want to know more about independent living? Join us for our online events over October exploring what it is and How to get it! Email to register” and the ILMI logo

The last Freedom & Choice Session next Thursday (27th Oct) at 6 pm. Title – Understanding Personal Assistance, the “How” to Apply for One. To register email

Coming in November: “Smashing It”

IMAGE: poster with text that reads “Why do some people become activists and some people don’t?” and “Smashing It: coming November 2022” and the ILMI Logo

A series of talk show style interviews with some very well-known faces celebrating 30 years of Independent Living in Ireland. What makes some people become activists and some people don’t? This is a question we will be exploring, as well as teasing out the very nature of activism under a rights based lens.  Smashing It: Disabled People tearing up the script in the 21st century. Disabled Actors, Writers and comedians will all be talking about their work their passions and what makes them strive. Something for everyone and a series of sessions you do not want to miss!

The line-up will be announced shortly but we kick off with the Mat Frazer November 2nd at 7pm email to register.

ILMI Galway ‘Find Your Voice’ empowerment programme

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Our Galway ‘Find Your Voice’ empowerment programme continued this week with a session on Independent Living and Personal Assistance Services (PAS). We were joined this week by ILMI Policy Officer James Cawley, who spoke with the group about his own experience of using a PAS and also about the ILMI PAS Campaign. The group now have two more sessions in this current online schedule. If you have an interest in taking part in an ILMI empowerment programme do get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you! Email

DET (Disability Equality Training)

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James Casey and Peter Kearns from ILMI delivered a Disability Equality Workshop with the guys from Galway City Community Network Tuesday evening. It was a lively and engaging and we are excited for the second workshop next week.

SFC Project update

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In this week’s SFC Session we had our very own Damien Walshe come and talk to us about Organising for Collective Action.

Some of the things that we learned was that any change that we want is long-term and sometimes it can often seem that change is impossible because of the reality of the systematic exclusion of disabled people.

We need to learn from other movements, like the women’s movement and the gay rights movement. We need to understand that all change is big, even the small wins, these keeps people motivated.

Initial change is with ourselves: this is about changing how we think about ourselves, about our peers and believing that there is a need for change, that we deserve the right to live good lives. Also, of importance here is our want to be part of the change and have hope that we can affect chance (with one voice) by using our shared lived experiences of exclusion, of inequality as a tool – “the personal is political”.

Damien told us that change is not an endpoint in a journey, it is about the journey itself and change can happen at different levels: personal, organizational, social, cultural, political and economic.

As activists we need to understand that there will always be resistance to change, internally, individually, organisationally and from society. So, activism is about collectively “chipping away until we get what we want”. Look out for the recording of this session in the coming weeks to learn more!

NDA Conference

IMAGE: photo shows Selina Bonnie, Paula Soraghan and Shelly Gaynor

On Thursday 20 October, ILMI’s Shelly Gaynor & Paula Soraghan attended the NDA’s Annual conference in Croke Park. The focus was on article 9 of the UNCRPD, with the theme being Universal Design. ILMI’s Vice Chair Selina Bonnie spoke in her capacity as South Dublin County Council Access Officer on having universal design at the heart of any public space to make it great and accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Panels featured disabled people sharing their lived experience with employment, as well as professionals from the UK and US.

Caroline Casey’s struck a chord when she commented Gen Z disabled people are much empowered and have disability pride. It is something we all need as disabled people, so we aren’t stuck in the disability closet. Don’t be afraid to live your truth and use your voice. Be you!

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