New ‘Fáilte Badge’ of honour for businesses who welcome autism assistance dogs

Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI) has just launched its new Fáilte Programme for supporting businesses nationwide to become autism aware and service dog friendly, and to recognise the challenges faced by families with autism in accessing various services.

The initiative is offering businesses a free online training course and upon completing it, they are awarded a Fáilte Badge as a symbol of a commitment to understanding and supporting the unique needs of families with autism. 

The AADI Fáilte Programme is supported by a number of industry and sectoral bodies, including Ibec, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, USI and Cork Chamber of Commerce.

Today’s launch took place at Dublin’s Mansion House, with special guests the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Daithí de Róiste, Emma Rose Crowley who is assisted by dog Kitty, Emma Rose’s mother Gemma Crowley, and volunteers from AADI in attendance. 

Announcing the AADI Fáilte Programme, head of fundraising and communications at AADI, David Mc Carthy, said: “Our goal is to break down barriers that families with autism often face. Through the Fáilte Programme, we are taking a significant step towards creating a more inclusive society that respects the rights and needs of families and others living with autism.

“The new initiative aims to educate and certify businesses, and make public spaces more accessible and inclusive. The certification addresses a crucial need for enhanced awareness and accommodation in line with the Equality Act, ensuring equal access and treatment for individuals with autism and their assistance dogs.

“AADI will be working directly with a number of national representative bodies across hospitality, retail and education, meeting with their members and sharing their insights. Businesses and organisations are encouraged to participate with the Fáilte Programme as well as to complete the online training and certification to show their commitment to both autism awareness and autism friendliness.”

Mr Mc Carthy continued: “The response has been fantastic so far, with many national bodies engaging with the programme and promoting the training with their members. We look forward to working closely with businesses both large and small all across Ireland and we can’t wait to see them proudly sharing their new Fáilte Badge. We are excited to see this programme grow across 2024 and to see the impact. Together, we can foster a more understanding and supportive environment for families with autism.”

Speaking at the launch event, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Daithí de Róiste, said: “I am immensely proud to support the launch of the AADI Fáilte Programme. This initiative marks a significant stride in our commitment to building an inclusive city that respects and accommodates the diverse needs of all its residents, particularly families living with autism.

“The Fáilte Badge is not just a symbol, but a beacon of hope and understanding, guiding us towards a future where everyone is welcomed and valued. By participating in this programme, businesses and organisations across Ireland are not only enhancing their services but are also championing the cause of equality and accessibility. It’s heartening to see such a collaborative effort towards inclusivity and support for autism awareness.”

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