Most of us are lucky to have the use of all our senses and are physically able to move around freely in our community.
However, like 10.2% (2006 census) of the population of Donegal you could find yourself hit by an illness or accident which leaves you disabled.
It could be a family member of friend or you may work with people with a disability, which will raise your awareness to the plight of people living with a disability in your area. Responsibility for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities does not lie solely on the council, but with each and every one of us, although there are many areas within the town centre where the council could make improvements.
If you have every tried to push a wheelchair around Donegal town you will be well aware of the condition of the pavements. Cracked, narrow and uneven, they are not just difficult to manoeuvre but extremely uncomfortable for the person in the chair.
Crossing roads is a nightmare because where there are drops in the pavements they are difficult to access.
The council did, in fairness and due to the Strategic Implementation Plan, make some improvements on the Diamond. Dropped kerbs with sensory bubbled paving were installed in two places on the Diamond and cross hatchings painted on the roads.
For anyone who is not aware, the dimples in the paving are there to alert people who are visually impaired that it is a crossing area and I suppose the council cannot be blamed for the total lack of consideration of drivers that seem to think that the orange areas on the road are reserved parking for them. Double parking around the Diamond makes crossing even harder.
Shop keepers and café owners also add to making free movement difficult by placing sandwich boards outside their establishments on already narrow pavements.
This really is not necessary as most of these businesses have on-street windows and walls.
This brings us on to the bus stop. Again, this is a narrow space which is often difficult to pass even without being in a wheelchair, with people and suitcases everywhere.
It needs to be moved to another area, possibly down by the tourist information or water bus office.
Assuming there is free access to the town centre, people with a wheelchair are unable to access certain buildings and do not have full access to others.
If a person in a wheelchair wants to eat in one particular hotel, they have to be let in via the back entrance, not the front like everyone else.
One well known store in the town has no lift to access upstairs, which to my mind is unacceptable. There are cafés that have no disabled toilets and banks that cannot be accessed.
As caring members of society we can all play our part in assisting people with disabilities.
It is quite simple and would cause very little impact on our lives:
· Never park in a disabled bay, not even for ten minutes while you pop in to the bank. That could be the time when someone who really needs the space pulls up.
· Do not park on the crossing on the Diamond. It is not for parking on. IT IS A CROSSING
· Do not double park. People with a visual impairment are likely to walk into your car.
· Do not park your car at the doors in Supervalu car park. Parking bays are provided so use them. You are causing an obstruction, be thankful you are able to walk to the shop.
· BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOUR ACTIONS IMPACT ON OTHERS.