MakeWayDay21 for a more accessible LGBTQ+ community

Friday, September 24 is #MakeWayDay21. How can you get involved to make a more accessible LGBTQ+ Community in Ireland?

Person in a self-propelled wheelchair approaching a van parked on the footpath, blocking the wheelchair access
Image: Disability Federation of Ireland

MakeWayDay21 takes place on Friday, September 24, 2021. The annual initiative by the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) aims to highlight some of the obstacles in public spaces which impact accessibility on a daily basis.

The campaign was first established in 2017 and encourages people to upload photographs and short videos of obstacles such as cars, bikes and bins, on social media using the hashtag #MakeWayDay. The initiative has been an overwhelming success with many videos going viral. In 2020, the initiative reached over 1,000,000 people on social media and was featured on national news channels. 

MakeWayDay21 is open to people of all abilities and non-disabled participation is actively encouraged. Speaking to GCN, queer disability activist Alannah Murray says, “With Make Way Day, not a lot of people engage with it outside disabled people or people who have someone disabled in their life. I don’t think the onus should be on disabled queer people to do all the educating; non-disabled people have to be open to engaging and actively working to improve accessibility issues” 

With the easing of Covid restrictions meaning that outdoor drinking and dining has become commonplace, Murray suggests, that this has created additional obstacles for disabled people. “Outdoor dining has created a lot of challenges in queer spaces which should absolutely be acknowledged, and it has also brought the often inaccessible indoors to inaccessible outdoors.”. 

But Murray also suggests that this has impacted the inclusion of disabled queer people within queer spaces, “Whether its outdoor dining spaces blocking paths, tables that are too high to comfortably sit at, or groups of people crowding a path enjoying outdoor pints, it’s been even more difficult to feel like a part of the queer community as a disabled person than it usually is”

While the initiative focuses specifically on outdoor spaces, it will hopefully encourage reflection upon the obstacles that we place in our indoor spaces too. Many queer venues tend to be fairly inaccessible, either through access to toilets, bar areas or in seating allocation, and are therefore unwelcoming of our queer peers. Murray directly calls upon venues to engage with these issues,

“I hope now that things are opening up again that we can move forward and as accessibility issues are continuously brought to light by disabled people, that venues will appreciate disabled people trying to access their spaces after a really isolating time and will engage with disabled people on what can be done better” 

For this year’s MakeWayDay21 campaign, the DFI has partnered with 29 local authorities with an aim to sharing the results in order to effect policy change. By asking participants to survey their area within a 5km proximity, they aim to create a wider map of Ireland. Participation is easy, using a mobile-friendly online tool.  You can register for the survey on the Disability Federation of Ireland website and post photos using #MakeWayDay21 and tag @makewayday @disibilityfed.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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