New Disability Strategy

On 24 September 2020, the Minister for Communities announced that work would commence on the development of a suite of new Social Inclusion Strategies, including a Disability Strategy. An indicative timetable for the delivery of the Strategies has been published, with a target date of December 2021 for the Strategies to be finalised.

The Strategy

The new Disability Strategy will be developed using a co-design approach that will see the Department proactively reach out to ensure that disabled people and their representative organisations are at the heart of the design process. 

The new Disability Strategy will aim to tackle inequalities and obstacles that affect the everyday lives of disabled people.  It will be based on available evidence to bring focus to identifying and addressing the issues, barriers and disadvantages that can undermine equality of opportunity.  

Three Strategy Development Groups have been established to facilitate the meaningful involvement of disabled people and their representative groups in the production of the Disability Strategy.  Information on these groups is set out below.

Disability Strategy Expert Advisory Panel

An Expert Advisory Panel has been established to make high level recommendations on the themes, priorities and key actions that should feature in the Strategy.

Panel members have been drawn from the academic and voluntary and community sectors. They are:

  • Dr Bronagh Byrne: QUB School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.
  • Seán Fitzsimons: disabled professional and activist working in the field of disability rights.
  • Professor Eilionóir Flynn: Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland Galway.
  • Tony O’Reilly: human rights activist in the disabled persons’ movement and a member of the North West Forum of People with Disabilities.

The terms of reference of the Expert Advisory Panel are published on the DfC website.

The Expert Panel have provided their recommendations to the Minister and their report is available.

Disability Strategy Co-design Group

The Disability Strategy Co-design Group will support and advise the Department’s Disability Policy Team on the development and content of the Strategy and action plan and the wider stakeholder engagement that is conducted as the Strategy is developed, ensuring that the lived experiences of disabled people are appropriately reflected in the Strategy.

The Group is made up of key stakeholders who can represent the views of the disability sector and help the Department to understand the experience of, and issues faced by, disabled people.

Membership of the Disability Strategy Co-design Group is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Royal National Institute for the Blind
  • My Way Access
  • Disability Action
  • Mencap
  • Action Mental Health
  • Royal National Institute for the Deaf
  • North West Forum of People with Disabilities
  • Leonard Cheshire
  • Omnibus Partnership
  • Children’s Law Centre
  • Children in NI
  • Centre for Independent Living NI
  • Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee
  • Irish Congress of Trades Unions
  • Equality Commission NI  
  • NI Human Rights Commission

The terms of reference of the Co-design Group will be published on the DfC website.

Cross-departmental Working Group

The Disability Strategy Cross-departmental Working Group will support DfC in the development and drafting of the new Disability Strategy and action plan.  This work will be based on the recommendations of the Disability Strategy Expert Advisory Panel, the views expressed by the Disability Strategy Co-design Group and through wider stakeholder engagement.

Membership of the Disability Strategy Cross-departmental Working Group is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Infrastructure
  • Department of Justice
  • The Executive Office

The terms of reference of the Cross-departmental Working Group are published on the DfC website.

At key stages, a Ministerial Steering Group will oversee progress of the four Social Inclusion Strategies, including the Disability Strategy, and work to ensure effective cross-departmental working.

For further information on the Strategy, please contact the DfC Disability Policy Team.

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