The National Council for the Blind of Ireland has today launched a nationwide awareness campaign urging people not to place obstacles in the way of people with visual impairments.
The sight loss agency has released a video showing the difficulties that people with impaired vision face on a daily basis, as they try to navigate their way through towns and cities countrywide.
Obstacles include cars parked on footpaths, bins in the middle of paths, overhanging branches and dog litter- all of which pose huge problems and potential danger for people with sight loss.
NCBI is urging people to place specially designed stickers on offending vehicles and bins in a bid to increase awareness on the issue.
Elaine Howley, Director of Policy and Advocacy with NCBI says “Our aim is to raise public awareness of the impact that obstacles on our footpaths have on the everyday lives of people with any level of sight loss”.
“We are asking the public to come along with us on this campaign and join the movement to ensure that people with sight loss can move around freely and independently”.
“There are lots of things that the general public can do to make a difference to ensure safe access for people with sight loss. They can clean up after their dogs, they can respect the traffic laws and not park on footpaths, they can take in their bins after collection, they can trim overhanging branches ; Lots of little things that make a big difference to people who have impaired vision . People who are blind have an equal right to clear access. People need to feel safe and if they are liable to fall and bang their heads for instance, then clearly they are not safe”.
“We are asking people to place our specially designed stickers on any offending vehicles or bins that they come across. The hashtag for this campaign is “#Clear Our Paths”.
The NCBI is also looking to the public to post photos or video footage they have on their own social media channels.
Wexford man, Joe McPhillips, who lost his sight at 33 as a result of Diabetic Retinopathy, says “I know people mean well but they have to be aware that sometimes their actions make life hell for people with sight loss. Parking on footpaths is a practise that has to be stamped out. People need to have consideration and realise that while they may be able to get around with no bother, those of us with sight loss are experiencing huge difficulties as a result of their actions”.
Joe, who contributed to the NCBI’ Clear Our Paths’ video says “These things make our lives hell. One of the biggest barriers for people with any level of sight loss is fear and if you are impeded by obstacles as you try and get out and about, the fear only increases. Local authorities should put proper traffic management plans in place and clean up trip hazards”.
NOTES TO EDITORS
NCBI is the national charity working for the rising number of people affected by sight loss in Ireland.
The majority of people using NCBI services have some remaining vision.
There are currently 54,810 people with impaired vision in Ireland (Census 2016).
This number is rising.
As a charity, NCBI must raise €3 million annually to ensure that we can continue to offer essential services to people who are blind or vision impaired. We do this through our fundraising events and our network of 91 charity shops nationwide.
The majority of people we work with have some remaining vision. Our aim is to help them use that vision to read, use technology, get around independently or to manage with the everyday tasks we all take for granted, like cooking and shopping.
For further information contact Sally McEllistrim NCBI 01 8821975/ 086 9471600