Established in 2001, DESSA, the Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency is a national agency working with community development organisations.
DESSA’s mission is to support the inclusion and active participation of disabled people in Irish life through community development methodologies. Underpinning DESSA’s strategic plan is an inclusive equality framework, setting out three areas of action – capacity building, policy development and networking – within which support is given to community development organisations to facilitate inclusive actions.
DESSA operates within the Community Development Programme (Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs) and the Community & Family Services Resource Centres Programme (Family Support Agency, Department of Social & Family Affairs). Community development organisations such as Community Development Projects (CDPs) and Family Resource Centres (FRCs) play a vital role in ensuring the inclusion and equal participation of disabled people within their communities.
In 2005 DESSA published Access Inside Out: A Guide to Making Community Facilities Accessible. Following the success of this publication and the interest generated in the area of access, DESSA decided to publish a complement guide exploring the issue of accessible and inclusive play spaces for disabled children and their families. Play for All: Providing Play Facilities for Disabled Children will provide those working in the community & voluntary sector and the statutory sector, in particular local authorities, with a practical resource in enabling disabled children to experience the same play and leisure opportunities as their non-disabled peers.