In line with the Programme for Government commitment a National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan (NDSIP) was published in July 2013 following significant consultation and consideration between relevant Government Departments and representatives of a broad range of disability organisations. This Plan sets out the practical measures that will be taken to advance the National Disability Strategy over the period 2013 to 2015.
Progress on the Implementation Plan is reviewed by the National Disability Strategy Implementation Group (NDSIG) through thematic meetings which deal with specific issues. Such meetings are attended by all relevant bodies to ensure cross-sectoral input and review. All actions in the Plan relevant to the chosen issue are discussed and the progress made is mapped against commitments in the Plan. Two such thematic meetings were held in quarter 4 of 2013 and focussed on the themes of Irish Sign Language and Housing. The next themed meeting in quarter 3 of 2014 will focus on employment. In addition to the ongoing implementation of the actions being undertaken by the relevant Government Departments two new initiatives are currently being progressed. These are the drafting of a comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities and a review of the Implementation Plan with respect to how it addresses the needs of people with autism.
At my request, the National Disability Authority (NDA) and Mr. Christy Lynch (founder member of the Irish Association of Supported Employment) have initiated the drafting of a comprehensive employment strategy. A draft framework for the Strategy was agreed by the Senior Official's Group on Disability on 30 July 2013 and subsequently issued for consultation with all relevant stakeholders in August. Work is ongoing to finalise this Strategy.
I have also requested the NDA to examine how the Implementation Plan reflects the needs of people with autism. The NDA, as part of that examination, engaged in a consultation exercise with autism stakeholders and examined existing service provision across relevant departments for people with disabilities. The outcome of this process is under review by the NDSIG before further consideration of the issue will be under taken by the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.