Seanad debates

Friday, 30 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:00 am

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Like everybody else, I welcome yesterday's announcements, especially on promoting and developing the concept of outside dining. However, I am slightly concerned about people with disabilities, specifically blind people, wheelchair users, elderly people and people with small children who might be pushing prams. I very much encourage outside dining but I would like to see protocols put in place to ensure the designated area for outside dining is the only part of the footpath used for that purpose and that the rest of the footpath is kept clear. By that I mean kept clear of all types of street furniture, including sandwich boards and other similar signs and obstacles.

Before the pandemic, there was an increased proliferation on the streets of our towns and cities of various objects which impacted on and impeded people with disabilities. Protocols are necessary because if this outside dining experience works, and I have no reason to believe it will not, it will become something of a norm in future. I hope it does but it must also be done right and there must be proper protocols.

The HSE portal that is up and running for the vaccination of those aged over 60 years will hopefully be used by the rest of us when we apply for a date for our vaccinations. The portal is not accessible to screen readers for people who are blind and visually impaired. While the Covid-19 tracker app is accessible, there are, unfortunately, technical issues with the online portal. This matter must be resolved urgently. I ask the Leader to write to the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, to outline the concerns of the 270,000 blind and visually impaired people in this country about the HSE portal. The vaccination process must be accessible to everybody and it must be as easy as A, B, C to apply for a vaccine. I would appreciate if the Leader would do that.


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