Date: 04 Dec 2023
‘International Day of Disabled People’ was celebrated in Belfast today.
A special event to mark the day was held in City Hall organised by Belfast City Council in conjunction with Disability Action NI.
Among the guest speakers were Sarah Griffiths - ‘Wheelie Momma’; Michael Holden, disabled entrepreneur and founder of AccessoLoo; Anthony Sinclair, Deaf tutor, sports coach and founder of Sign Source; Dr Alicja Jasinka-Piadlo, cardiologist with Belfast Trust and author Niamh Brownlee.
Action Ability choir performed Christmas carols and there was a certificate presentation to council staff who had recently completed sign language training.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Ryan Murphy, welcomed everyone to the event and said it was a “privilege” to host it in City Hall – the theme being ‘Celebrating Deaf and Disabled People’.
“We are delighted to host this special event to mark ‘International Day of Disabled People’ in partnership with Disability Action NI,” he said.
“The United Nations proclaimed this day for the celebration of achievements of disabled people across the world. It is also a day we promote awareness of the challenges faced by disabled people and the role we play in accelerating the eradication of barriers to social inclusion, equity, participation and citizenship.
“Council has a Disability Action Plan which places our duty, as a public authority, to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people and encourage active participation in public life. Last year, we set up a Members Disability Working Group where our Elected Members take an active interest in promoting awareness of disability and develop policies to address disability-related issues.
“We are committed to improving the quality of living for disabled people here in Belfast and this includes making sure council premises and services are accessible for all.”
Council’s ongoing work to support disabled people includes staff in City Hall, Belfast Castle and Malone House receiving current training to become ‘Autism NI Impact Awards Champions’.
Autism NI’s Impact Award was developed to help organisations create a more ‘autism friendly environment’ for customers and employees – equipping staff to better understand customers/colleagues who have autism and how to adapt environments to support them.
A draft Changing Places Toilets Policy has also been developed (subject to ratification by full Council at its monthly meeting, this evening) - with plans to go out for public consultation in the New Year.
Changing Places Toilets are specialised toilet facilities which make public places and spaces accessible and inclusive to children and adults with complex needs or mobility issues.
For more information on council’s support for disabled people in the city, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/disability