March For 224,000 Irish People With Sight Loss
VISPA (the Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance) called on Government to impose no further cuts on people who are blind or vision impaired in the next Budget. Their call came in a letter to the Taoiseach, handed in following a march to the Dáil on behalf of the 224,000 people who suffer from sight loss in Ireland. The group also called on Government to ensure that service providers for people with sight loss suffer no further cuts to their budgets.
The cost for blind people of the cut imposed last year was incalculable – we know it meant that many had to go without, that they had to give up supports that made life bearable. It has to be reversed,” explained (spokesperson VISPA).
VISPA is made up of NCBI, Fighting Blindness, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and St. Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired providing it with a unique insight into the pressures on people with sight loss across the country. It has urged the Government to make good on its promises made earlier this year.
“The Programme for Government stated that its goal is to ensure that “the quality of life of people with disabilities is enhanced and that resources allocated reach the people who need them,”” said (spokesperson VISPA). “We are challenging the Government to engage with us to make sure that this happens. With over 200,000 people suffering with sight loss we believe this is a voice that cannot be ignored.”
The scale of the sight loss challenge facing Government is huge and growing. A recent study published in September 2011, entitled The Cost of Sight Loss: The Economic Impact of Vision Impairment and Blindness in the Republic of Ireland, shows this. The number of people with mild and moderate sight loss, as well as total blindness, is far greater than previously estimated and is on the rise as our population ages. In fact, in 2010 there were 224,832 people with impaired vision in Ireland. This figure is set to rise by 21% by 2020, when 5% of the population (or 271,996 people) will have vision impairment.
“The figures are clear, there are hundreds of thousands of people with impaired vision and the figure will grow by a fifth by 2020,” stated (spokesperson VISPA). “And yet we are expected to meet this growing challenge with shrinking resources. This is a situation that should not and can not continue.”
For further information please contact: Ger Kenny 087 2488393