President Michael D Higgins has encouraged people to reflect on and highlight the challenges posed to people with disabilities.

His call comes as the National Disability Federation of Ireland launches its awareness campaign 'Make Way Day'.

The initiative aims to highlight the obstacles people with disabilities and those with visual impairments face on a daily basis, particularly on footpaths.

In a video message, President Michael D Higgins called on people to consider "the many physical obstacles that limit the right of people with disabilities to full and meaningful participation in society".

The President also notes that such obstacles are "encountered day in, day out by people with disabilities", limiting their ability to participate in their communities.

So far this year, thousands of fixed charge notices have been issued by gardaí for people parking on footpaths.

Gardaí are calling on motorists to be more aware of the surroundings when they are parking, to consider the impact that their actions may have on people with disabilities and not to cause obstruction on footpaths.

Ciara and Áron Perks

Three-year-old Áron Perks has a physical disability and autism.

The youngest of three children, his mother Ciara said the family is beginning a new journey.

Áron moves with the aid of a walking frame and he will eventually move to a wheelchair.

Ciara is aware her child - like other people with disabilities - will face many obstacles in the future. However, she underestimated the existing obstacles outside their front door.

Ciara said when they take Áron outside for a walk, there are cars parked on footpaths.

Frequently, they must contend with overhanging trees, hedges, and roadworks.

All these obstacles mean she is forced to guide Áron's walker on to the road with her two other children trailing behind.

Aoibhe and Eoghan Perks

Staying at home almost becomes the easier option.

"Children like Áron or people with a visual impairment can't really get around those things by themselves, she said.

"This every day of their lives and it's just another thing that might isolate them. And after the last 18 months everybody has had, you do not want to be isolating people, no matter what age they are, any more than they already have been," she said.

Ciara is asking people to think before they park their car up on curbs and footpaths.

It is a simple request, and it is what Make Way Day is all about, according to Clare Cronin who is Communications Manager with the Disability Federation of Ireland.

"Probably people think they're doing a good service, you know, they're pulling the car in off the road and saving more space (on the road), but they're just not thinking of over 13% of the population who have a disability and it affects all sorts of people."

Clare Cronin

The Disability Federation said these obstacles are a barrier to inclusion and in recognition of this, An Garda Síochána have rowed in behind the campaign.

It is an offence to park on a footpath.

So far this year, 3,500 fixed charge notices have been issued for people parking on footpaths, according to Inspector Peter Woods from the Dublin Metropolitan Policing Roads Division at Dublin Castle.

"As traffic volumes return to more normal levels, on-street parking is once again at a premium," he said.

"We're asking motorists to be more aware of the surroundings when they're parking to consider the impact that their actions might have on people with disabilities who might need that extra little bit of space and not to cause obstruction on footpaths."

Inspector Peter Woods

Gardaí are also urging cyclists to play their part.

"The last year-and-a-half has also seen a big increase in the number of cyclists on Irish roads, so we're asking cyclists to be conscious when they're securing their bicycle outside the shop or their place of work to make sure that it's not causing obstruction that might impair a wheelchair user or someone who is visually impaired."

The National Disability Federation acknowledged that Make Way Day is a one-day initiative to remind drivers to be aware of people with disabilities and visual impairments.

However, it said the message behind it applies every day.