Disability Sport NI has launched newly developed Accessible Outdoor Places Design Guidelines in response to a growing demand from disabled people in Northern Ireland to access and use the countryside and outdoor places for exercise and recreation.
The guidelines provide detailed technical advice on how to improve access to a comprehensive range of outdoor places including paths, trails and greenways; play parks; water-based activity areas; as well as providing information on a range of outdoor wheelchairs, adapted cycles and inclusive all-terrain vehicles.
Funded by the Public Health Agency and supported by the Department for Communities and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) the guidelines aim to encourage designers and managers to develop outdoor places which are more accessible to and inclusive of disabled people.
Speaking at a socially distanced launch at Antrim Castle Gardens, Kevin O’Neill Chief Executive of Disability Sport NI said: ‘We have noticed a growing demand from disabled people to use outdoor places to exercise and keep fit, something which was particularly prevalent during COVID-19 restrictions, however all too often disabled people find outdoor places difficult to access and use, because of a range of barriers. The new guidelines will encourage and support designers and site managers to develop outdoor places which better meet the needs of disabled people.’
Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive at the Public Health Agency added: ‘The new guidelines will be important in supporting a range of statutory and voluntary organisations across Northern Ireland to embrace optimum levels of good practice creating a more inclusive outdoor environment where disabled people can experience the benefits of outdoor places and lead a more active and healthier lifestyle alongside their family and friends.’
Welcoming the launch of the guidelines Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: ‘The guidelines help inform and promote good practice in the design of outdoor places and will support the delivery of my Department’s ongoing access and inclusion work designed to promote a more inclusive society by improving the accessibility of outdoor venues and places.’
DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots MLA added: ‘The guidelines support our ongoing partnership work with the Department for Communities and the Public Health Agency in improving access by improving designers and site managers knowledge and understanding of what good quality disability access looks like in an outdoors environment.’
The Accessible Outdoor Places Guidelines can be downloaded from the Disability Sport NI website www.dsni.co.uk/resources or below:
Pictured below at the launch of the guidelines is Kevin O’Neill and Aubrey Bingham of Disability Sport NI, Adele Dunn of the Public Health Agency, Greg Magee of the Department for Communities and Jerome Burns of DAERA.