Wednesday, 14 July 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
242. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way her Department and public bodies and agencies under her remit are implementing Action 16 of the National Disability and Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 (details supplied). [38499/21]
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is committed to making the information on all its websites accessible to all.
The Department, for example, is committed to the adoption of Plain English and seeks to use plain English as widely as possible to make customer communications more effective and to make our services more understandable and accessible.
In 2019, the Department’s former website was replaced by the new central Government website gov.ie. During this process, the information for over 90 schemes and services was developed in plain English. Plain English web content for 150 service pages is now available. In migrating to gov.ie, the reading age of DSP services was reduced from 21 to 15.2 - and this is an ever-evolving process.
The Department has also designed its websites to follow guidelines set out by the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium). The W3C WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) produces accessibility guidelines that are an internationally recognised benchmark of accessibility. Our sites currently comply with Level Double-A of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
The Department is committed to inclusive design, enabling websites which can be used by all users including those who may have cognitive or physical impairments. This means, for example, that our sites can be used with assistive technologies such as screen readers or by using a keyboard for navigation.
We also have accessibility statements on three of our websites, MyGovID, WelfarePartners and JobsIreland and will shortly add an accessibility statement to MyWelfare.
The Department has three agencies under its remit that have websites, the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Authority and the Pensions Council.
The Citizens Information Board’s websites meet the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as set out in the accessibility statements on citizensinformation.ie, citizensinformationboard.ie and mabs.ie. CIB is to undertake full accessibility audit of its websites and, once that is done, the websites’ accessibility statements will include additional statements as required under the European Union (Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies) Regulations 2020. The Pensions Authority website meets the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and currently has an accessibility statement. The Pensions Council website is currently being reviewed and, as part of this process, an accessibility statement will be added to this site.
The Department remains committed to further developing its content and sites in line with its commitments under the NDIS.
243. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way her Department and public bodies and agencies under her remit are implementing Action 32 of the National Disability and Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 (details supplied). [38516/21]
The Department sees it as critical that it engages with people with lived experience of disability to hear their experiences and perspectives in the development of policies and programmes in order to meet their needs. In addition to its broader stakeholder meetings and customer engagement activities, the Department consults with people with disabilities, through a wide range of approaches, including:
- direct meetings with stakeholders;
- research, the use of questionnaires, surveys and focus groups;
- meetings with the Community and Voluntary Pillar (CVP) twice per year;
- the annual pre-budget and post budget fora;
- the annual carers' forum;
- participation on national groups in conjunction with stakeholders, for example: the National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group (NDIS-SG), and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy (for people with disabilities) Implementation Group (CES-IG);
- Disability Consultative Forum (DCF) meetings. This group meets each quarter, with meetings providing a space for stakeholders to highlight concerns, discuss and raise queries with regards to services/schemes and contribute to the development of policies;
- meetings held with its dedicated Disability Consultative Committee (DCC). This committee is comprised of persons with disabilities and their representatives, who monitor the Department’s delivery of its commitments under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy. Meetings are held quarterly and the committee, through the Chair of the Disability Stakeholders Group (DSG), delivers a report to the full NDIS-SG twice a year.
The Department intends to further develop its consultative processes through engagement with the Participation and Consultation Network (PCN) established in 2020. The development of this network is being funded and overseen by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth (D/CEDIY) and the network aims to support the building of capacity within its members to participate in policy development processes, as envisaged under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD). D/CEDIY, with the PCN, have to date been focused on the national consultation process to develop Ireland’s first State report to the UN under the CRPD, to be submitted later this year.
I trust this clarifies the matter.