Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Universal Design In Building: Discussion

Ms Rosaleen Lally:

I thank the committee for inviting us in today to discuss universal design. We are calling on the Irish Government to amend section 3 of Part M the Building Regulations 2010 on access and use to raise accessibility standards for homes, so that all wheelchair users can access and use every area of their home from the wardrobe to the cooker. The Government must raise the mandatory baseline standards of wheelchair access in all new homes to incorporate all levels of access guidance as set out by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, including UD, UD+ and UD++. Believe it or not, Part M of the Building Regulations 2010 requires housing to be visitable for a wheelchair user, but not liveable. There is a requirement to provide level access to a habitable room and a toilet at entry level. If one considers a typical Irish three-bed semi-detached house with a small toilet under the stairs and the bedrooms upstairs, it is not wheelchair liveable. A consequence of the current Part M regulations is the lack of availability of wheelchair liveable social housing and private housing in the community, resulting in wheelchair users being homeless, involuntarily living with family, friends or in nursing homes, not having control over their lives, and not having choices equal to others in society.

The Irish Wheelchair Association is a community of people with physical disabilities across Ireland, founded on the belief that everyone should be able to live a life of choice and equality. Our services support people with physical disabilities to live independently, and our campaigns demand equal rights and opportunities for people with physical disabilities.