Introduction and Identified Facility
For this assignment I was required to identify and access audit a premises used to provide for the educational needs of children who have been identified as having special needs, I chose the CRC (Central Remedial Clinic) in Clontarf, Dublin.
Central Remedial Clinic, Clontarf, Dublin 1
The CRC is an institution that provides education for children from the age of 3 to 18 years living in Dublin north city. The school is for children with multiple disabilities, which means children with a primary physical disability and with other additional significant disabilities.
I chose the CRC for this assignment for several reasons:
• It is a large facility providing a lot of scope for examination.
• It provides for children who have a variety of special needs.
• It provides a vast array of facilities and activities.
• It is local to me.
The facilities at the CRC include a pre-school, a primary and a secondary school, a swimming pool, training and development centre and a gait laboratory among other very specialised services.
All of these facilities enabled me to perform a comprehensive and detailed analysis/presentation relevant to the assignment brief.
Disability/Special Needs Facilities at CRC and Primary Research
The facilities at the CRC in Clontarf are all designed with the needs of disabled/ special needs persons and their care-givers in mind.
I have outlined some examples of these facilities below:
• There are very wide- opening automatic front doors which are obviously built with the needs of wheelchair users in mind, the reception area is kept free from obstructions such as delivered goods.
• Designated parking bays are reserved for the use of drivers and passengers with disabilities and parking restrictions are strictly enforced.
• Ramps, circulation routes and escape routes from buildings to places of safety are on well-maintained safe surfaces, free from obstruction and well lit.
• Turning space at the top of ramps is kept free of obstruction.
• Approaches to bells, letterboxes and door handles etc. are kept free from obstruction.
• Doors are easy to open and closing devices are set at the minimum force needed to open and shut the door.
• Artificial lighting is at adequate levels.
• Wheelchair spaces in waiting rooms and elsewhere are kept free from obstruction.
• Approach to and exit from all lifts and stairs are kept free from obstruction.
• Toilets used by people with disabilities are kept particularly clean, as these users depend on the WC surfaces for support.
• Sanitary disposal bins are provided, emptied regularly and positioned within reach of the toilet.
• Drinking water is available from a water font to the side of the service counter beside the cups. Straws are available for clients with drinking difficulties
• Everyone understands their role in ensuring that the building operates efficiently, both on a day-to-day basis and in an emergency.
• Appropriate skills and disability/equality training are included in staff inductions and training is updated regularly.
• Contract and temporary workers are appraised of their safety duties and responsibilities in advance of commencing any work on site.
• There are two wheelchair accessible lifts for clients or visitors who need access to the first floor of the CRC and who find stairs difficult to use.
The range of toilets in the CRC are designed to suit all needs, such as:
• Wheelchair-accessible toilets with transfer from the right.
• Wheelchair-accessible toilets with transfer from the left.
• Toilets with changing facilities for babies.
• Toilets with changing plinths and hoists for children and adults.
• Toilets with showers and shower trolleys for children and adults.
Alarm facilities are maintained in the toilets and any pull cords extend to within a short distance from the floor.
Toilet transfer areas are kept free of obstruction and staff are always on hand to direct clients to the type of toilet that best suits the needs of the client.
Although all areas are wheelchair accessible by ramps such as the one in the image on the left,
There are also portable ramps like the one in the image on the right available, these portable ramps are in all client transport vehicles used by the CRC.
Hygiene and general cleanliness are taken very seriously in the Clinic. It is emphasised that antiseptic gel is available in gel dispensers throughout the building and that these facilities are a back-up to hand-washing. They are not intended to replace hand-washing.
The swimming pool at the CRC is a 40,000 litre pool which measures 10m by 25m.
It has steps and hand rails access as well as portable hoists such as the ones in the above images.
The clinic has three smoking shelters: close to the main reception, in the upper car park at the front of the building, and at the rear of the building. All are located in areas accessible to persons using wheelchairs.
According to the 2016 Irish Census of Population The number of persons in the age group under 20 with a disability is 6.7%. The most common disabilities were difficulty with pain, breathing or other chronic illness.
Among children of school going age a difficulty with learning, remembering and concentrating was the most common affliction.
Psychological conditions peaked during the mid-life years from age 30-60, while intellectual disability peaked for those aged 10-14. 7
NDA (National Disability Authority) Current legislation
The National Disability Authority (NDA) is the independent statutory body that provides information and advice to the Government on policy and best practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities. Their role is to assist the Minister for Justice and Equality in the co-ordination of disability policy.
The functions of the NDA include research, developing and collaborating on the development of relevant statistics; assisting in the development of standards; developing codes of practice and monitoring the implementation of standards, codes and employment of persons with disabilities in the public service.
We work through our Centre for Excellence in Universal Design to promote the universal design of the built environment, products, services and information and communication technologies so that they can be easily accessed and used by everyone, including persons with disabilities. 8
The Disability Act 2005 is the legislation most relevant to the provisions made at the CRC and all other public buildings and it states the following:
The Disability Act is an Act to enable provision to be made for the assessment of health and education needs occasioned to persons with disabilities by their disabilities, to enable ministers of the government to make provision, consistent with the resources available to them and their obligations in relation to their allocation, for services to meet those needs.
To make further and better provision in respect of the use by those persons of public buildings and their employment in the public service and thereby to facilitate general access by such persons to certain such services and employment and to promote equality and social inclusion and to provide for related matters.
Critical Evaluation, Reflections and Personal Learning from the Analysis of Results and Findings
When I began this assignment into the area of accessibility of the built environment, I had no idea that it was such a large and complex area of research. I can also state that having viewed some of these environments up close, the theoretical elements previously studied in class made more sense.
I was able evaluate/review the built environment in a much more concise way after I had visited in person and seen the issues and solutions for myself.
It is very hard to criticise the CRC, as it is an outstanding facility that is utterly dedicated to the notions of inclusiveness and accessibility and has achieved these to a very high degree.
It includes every type of toilet and shower facility that could be required by a disabled/special needs person.
Access arrangements also appear to be flawless, all situations and persons seem to have been accounted for.
I learned many things during this assignment notably that according to the 2016 Irish Census of Population, the number of persons in the age group under 20 with a disability is 6.7%. An increase of 11,828 persons (15.6%) with a disability in this age group since 2011. This means that there are almost 80,000 people under 20 with a disability in the Republic of Ireland.
I also learned that disability was more common amongst males in all age categories up to age 24, peaking in the 5-9 age groups where there were almost twice as many disabled boys (14,964) as girls (7,887).
Among children of school going age a difficulty with learning, remembering and concentrating were the most common afflictions. These children would typically receive a diagnoses of ADHD or General Learning Disability.
Psychological conditions peaked during the mid-life years from age 30-60, while intellectual disability peaked for those aged 10-14 years of age.
Conclusion and Recommedation
An accessible built environment is an essential component for bringing about a society based on equal rights, and providing citizens with personal autonomy and the means to pursue an active social and economic life. Lack of access to the built environment is one of the greatest barriers to participation faced by people with disabilities of all types, but primarily physical, from all types of activities throughout society.
I have attempted in this assignment to highlight a broad range of issues and effective solutions that make the CRC a wonderful example of an accessible built environment for all its users. I would recommend accessibility of the building be reviewed every six months or subsequent to any changes, in activities/functions or number of users/visitors, to ensure that the building is managed and maintained to the highest possible accessibility standard.