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Qualitative Data Collected by Variable for Ireland

Country Laws and Regulations

General Law protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

Definition of ICT accessibility:

  • Disability Act 2015. Section 28.2 states:

“Where a public body communicates in electronic form with one or more persons, the head of the body shall ensure, that as far as practicable, the contents of the communication are accessible to persons with a visual impairment to whom adaptive technology is available”.

Definition of Reasonable Accommodation:

The Acts require those selling goods or providing services to provide reasonable accommodation or special treatment or facilities where, without these, it would be impossible or unduly difficult for a person with disabilities to avail of the goods and services, unless this would cost more than a nominal cost. What amounts to a nominal cost will depend on the circumstances such as the size and resources of the body involved.

Universal Service Obligation includes Persons with Disabilities:

S.I. No. 337/2011 - European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and Users' Rights) Regulations 2011. Irish Statute Book

Relevant sections:

  • Section 6 deals with “Measures for end-users with disabilities”
  • Section 17 deals with “Ensuring equivalence in access and choice for end-users with disabilities”
  • Section 20 deal with “Single European emergency call number”
  • Section 22 deals with “Harmonized numbers for harmonized services of social value”

Country Capacity to Implement

  • Government agency for Persons with Disabilities: Services such as healthcare, social services, information about government services and information on assistive technology have been ‘mainstreamed’ across government agencies such as:

The National Disability Authority is the independent state body providing expert advice on disability policy and practice to the government and the public sector and promoting Universal Design in Ireland: The National Disability Authority

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design is part of the NDA. It has a specific remit around digital accessibility: The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design

  • Government agency for accessible ICTs:

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment: Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Office of the Government Chief Information Officer: Office of the Government Chief Information Officer

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority has a statutory remit to promote awareness of Universal Design, develop guidance for ICT professionals, and support standards development for accessible ICTs.

  • Process to involve DPOs in ICT accessibility policy making:

COMREG, the state telecoms regulator used to have a disability forum through which it consults with DPOs on new regulations. It now tends to consult on an ad hoc basis.

The National Disability Authority sits in the statutory Consumer Advisory Panel of COMREG. However, NDA is not a DPO: COMREG

  • Country refers to international ICT accessibility standards:

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the NDA has a statutory remit to support the development of standards. It has contributed to standards development in CEN/CENELEC, ETSI, and ISO. It is involved in standards development at national level with various committee in the National Standards Authority of Ireland. It sits in the CEN/CENELEC Strategic Advisory Group on Accessibility (SAGA) and was involved in standardization mandates 376 and 473:

M/376 Standarization Mandate to CENELEC and ETSI

M/473 Standardization mandate to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI to include “Design for All”

  • ICT accessibility courses available at universities or professional education services: There are very few. A small number of academics teach ICT accessibility.

Country Policy and Programs Outcomes

  • Web:

-Country Policy: Section 27.2 of the Disability Act 2005 places an obligation on public bodies to make their electronic information accessible. The “Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies” specifies the W3C WCAG guidelines for public sector websites. The transposition of the Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102) has been delayed and not yet undertaken. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment is responsible for its transposition: Codes of Practice Accessibility of Public Services and Information

  • TV and multimedia:

-Country Policy: The national regulator, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland produces national access rules for broadcasters on level of sign language interpretation, audio description and captioning: Broadcasting Authority Standards

The Centre for Excellence in Universal design has non-binding accessibility guidelines: Accessibility Guidelines

  • Mobile telephony:

-Country Policy: COMREG has passed many regulations to ensure that the following accessible services are provided:

  • Accessible Complaints Handling Procedures Information
  • Accessible Top-Up Facility for Customers with Disabilities
  • Accessible Directory Enquiries
  • Accessible Billing
  • Accessible Facility to Test Compatibility of Terminal Equipment or Appropriate Returns Policy
  • Accessible Website Information
  • Accessible Directory Enquiries
  • Text Relay Service

Further information about the above is provided here: Accessibility_COMREG

Information on the Irish Text Relay Service is provided here: Irish Text Relay Service

Information on the emergency SMS service is available here: Information on the Emergency SMS

The European Electronic Communications Code have yet to be transposed: The European Electronic Communications Code

As stated above, COMREG, the state telecoms regulator has a disability forum through which it consults with DPOs on new regulations. This forum has encouraged mobile operators to provide specific information on the accessibility of their services and mobile devices. E.g. Accessibility_Vodafone

  • E-books and digital contents:

-Country Program: The National Council for the Blind is a member of Bookshare & the ABC Consortium, through which they provide accessible to electronic accessible books (600k in total), through the easy reader app: Easy Reader App

Easy Reader App for Students with Print Disabilities

Some libraries provide the facility to borrow accessible books. Most third level education providers have access offices that work with the academic departments to provide digital versions of academic texts to students with disabilities.

  • Promoting the Internet Availability and Usage among Persons with Disabilities:

-Country Programs: It is primarily provided by civil society organizations. For example, charities such as the National Council for the Blind of Ireland provide computer skills training for their service users

  • Inclusive ICTs for all in education:

-Country Policy: All children – including children with disabilities and children with special needs – have a constitutional right to free primary education. Children with special educational needs have the right to free primary education up to age 18.

Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 provides that children are to be educated in an inclusive setting unless this would not be in the best interests of the child or the effective provision of education for other children in mainstream education.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is a statutory body with particular functions in relation to special needs education. Managed by the National Council for Special Education, the Special Education Support Service (SESS) co-ordinates, develops and delivers a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools. This includes advice and training on accessible ICTs for education.

AHEAD, the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability is an independent non-profit organization working to promote full access to and participation in further and higher education for students with disabilities and to enhance their employment prospects on graduation: AHEAD

  • Enabling ICTs for all in employment:

-Country Program: Grant assistance is available for employers, employees and self-employed persons with disabilities who need to adapt the workplace or purchase specialized equipment for staff with disabilities. This grant is called the Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant (WEAG)

  • E-government and Smart Cities for all:


  • Enabling Assistive Technologies and ICTs for independent living:

-Country Program: The Employer Disability Information Service provides employers with an expert peer source of advice and information on employing staff with disabilities, with a view to enhancing the confidence and competence of individual employers to employ, manage and retain staff with disabilities. It provides a limited amount of information on assistive technology: Accessibility Information for Employers

Assist Ireland is the government website that provides information on AT.

  • Procurement of accessible public goods and services for all citizens:

-Country Policy: The Disability Act 2005 requires public bodies to include accessibility as a criterion in public procurement. The National Disability Authority provides guidance on the procurement of accessible ICTs. This advice is outdated and has been superseded by EN 301 549. There is no promotion of this standard in Ireland.