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Govt focus on ‘disability equality and accessibility’

The Department of Equality yesterday hosted an accessibility training session for the private sector.

The session, ‘Making Premises Accessible’ forms part of the Equality Means Business initiative which forms part of a busy week of training on disability equality and accessibility.

Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, opened the training session. The keynote speaker is Ian Streets, Managing Director of About Access UK.

The first training session for the public sector took place at the University of Gibraltar on Tuesday and was attended by 30 Heads of Government Departments and senior officials.

Ms Sacramento told delegates yesterday that the Government was introducing specific legislation in the context of the Building Rules that will require that all new buildings be accessible and take into account the needs of individuals with physical disabilities.

That, she said, had been a government policy since the GSLP/Liberals were first elected in 2011.

But once the new regulations come into force it will be compulsory for all new building projects to be accessible.

“There is also another very important piece of legislation that will be laid before Parliament very early next year which is the Disability Act and that again will help us all to improve the lives of people with disabilities by making sure that we are more inclusive as a society,” Ms Sacramento said.

The idea behind the training, she explained, is to ensure that everybody both public sector and private sector are as informed as possible of the requirements that are coming.

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“This is very, very important for the government, for us equality is a very important principle and we want to make sure that we support people with disabilities and in turn support you the private sector to be able to provide for people with disabilities.”

She further explained that yesterday’s lecture forms part of a series of lectures called Equality Means Business.

“What I don’t want is for the business community, for the private sector to be afraid or concerned about the obligations that the new legislation will have on you because they are not as onerous as you may think,” she told the audience adding that there is a very strong business case for the rules.

“And of course overall it is the right thing to do and that is what counts that we do the right thing.”

Yesterday’s session will be followed by further training for technical professionals for the rest of the week.