Make Way for Disability Awareness

Wednesday September 26th marks the first ever National Make Way Day. This is the first time that nineteen local authorities have joined forces with the disabled community to campaign for the rights of those challenged by disability.

National Make Way Day is a day of action initiated by the Disability Federation of Ireland. The campaign aspires to raise awareness about the everyday obstacles and hurdles faced by people living with disability; through the support of local authorities, and advocates of inclusion and support such as the Irish Wheelchair Association, and Enable Ireland.

Stickers sharing the hashtag ‘Make Way Day’ are appearing around towns and villages across the country, reminding people to make way for people dealing with disability. Impediments to people who are disabled can be as simple as parking your car or van on the footpath, and blocking it from being used. Or chaining bicycles/motorbikes to lampposts, thus creating a trip hazard for a visually impaired person.

The Mayor of County Cork supported the campaign completely saying: ‘I am committed to driving forward the introduction of Make Way Day in order to highlight the everyday physical obstacles that 13% of the Irish population face when trying to navigate the streets of our towns and villages here in Cork.’

Campaigns like Make Way Day, highlighting the rights of disabled communities, comes as a result of thoughtlessness in public spaces. Negligence in public spaces can hinder people with disabilities from getting around and from fully participating in society.

Wexford County Council is another local authority showing support for the campaign; coining their own tailored hashtag ‘#MakeWayWexford’. Backing from the Irish Wheelchair Organisation, National Council for the Blind, Saoirse Training & Access Group, and Community Workshop Enniscorthy and New Ross understand the significance of the Make Way Day campaign. Most believe hazards to the disabled community stemmed from a lack of awareness and thoughtfulness and see the event as an opportunity to challenge and overcome people’s lack of awareness of the needs of others.

Caroline Horan, Access Officer at Wexford County Council, comments that: ‘Make Way Day reminds us that 13% of the Irish population have a disability and their needs must be considered, particularly in the context of shared public spaces.’

The Disability Federation Ireland (DFI) initiated the inaugural campaign in 2017 before it was petitioned to become a national event. This year, the campaign has been awarded the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, Public Awareness Campaign 2018, and hopes generate the same heartening engagement by members of the public as it did last year.

Speaking with Clare Cronin, Communications Manager of the DFI, it’s clear online engagment is a huge part of the Make Way Day campaign. Encouraging activists across the country to post pictures and videos of daily obstacles encountered online, accompanied by the #makewayday, drove the campaign viral. Last year alone, Make Way Day’s campaign video received 750,000 views; it’s time to get sharing.

See for more information on tomorrow’s day of action.

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