The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) is marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities by publishing an online photography exhibition which features people who are blind and vision impaired. The day, which is promoted by the United Nations, is observed annually on 3rd December and aims to promote an understanding of persons with disabilities and support for their dignity, rights and well-being.
NCBI’s photography exhibition follows the daily activities of service users who are blind or vision impaired at its training and day centres in Dublin and aims to promote greater public awareness of the achievements by persons with sight loss. It showcases and celebrates the contributions by people who are blind and vision impaired to the societies in which they live. The exhibition serves to enrich the public perception of the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The theme of this year’s campaign is Dignity and Justice for All of Us. It is based on the goal of attaining full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities. This theme is fully reflected in NCBI’s own vision statement which is, “For people who are blind and vision-impaired to have the same opportunities, rights and choices as others to fully participate in society”.
Although 650 million, or ten per cent of the world’s population, live with disabilities, many continue to face barriers to their participation in society and are often forced to live on the margins of society. In the west it is estimated that between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of persons with disabilities of working age are unemployed. In Ireland, the reality persists of low numbers of persons with disabilities going on to higher education. According to a recent HEA report, currently 55% of school leavers go on to higher education, but only 17% of students who are blind, vision impaired or deaf do so.
For over ten years, NCBI’s training centre has provided a stepping stone to higher education, offering people with sight loss the chance to build confidence, gain new skills and independence before moving on to further training or education. The FETAC accredited foundation course for people with sight loss, offers a range of modules, including daily living and kitchen skills, job seeking advice, computer training, personal development, recreational activities, braille and mobility training.
Such programmes encourage and enable people who are blind or vision impaired to live as independently as possible. In this way, NCBI seeks to ensure equal opportunities for entry into higher education and productive and gainful employment by people who are blind or vision impaired. NCBI’s training centre, in addition to its day activity centre ensures that persons with disabilities have opportunities to utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential to the enrichment of society as a whole.
2008 is a significant date in the international human rights movement as it marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This years’ International Day for Persons with Disabilities is a time to make a renewed commitment to these principles of dignity and justice.
NCBI continues to call on the government to develop effective policies and programmes that will have a real impact on the lives of persons with disabilities, which will see them integrated more fully into society.
The exhibition aims to support NCBI’s core message that people who are blind or vision impaired, or indeed any persons with disabilities, have the right to full and equal enjoyment of their human rights and full participation in society.
To view our online exhibition