The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) is a not-for-profit charitable organisation that provides support and services to more than 13,000 people who are blind and vision impaired throughout the country.
Established in 1931 NCBI currently works with more than 13,000 people of all ages who have varying degrees of sight loss. We provide information, advice and support as well as rehabilitation and other training services which are designed to assist people who are living with sight loss to do so independently.
Our vision is for people who are blind and vision impaired to have the same opportunities, rights and choices as others to fully participate in society. Our mission is to enable people who are blind and vision impaired to overcome the barriers that impede their independence and participation in society.
This paper sets out NCBI’s response to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources public consultation on its External Customer Service Charter.
In this submission, we have made a number of recommendations that we would like to see included in the Department’s Customer Service Charter to ensure that the interests of people who are blind and vision impaired are fully considered.
2. Recommendations on the Customer Service Charter
NCBI recommends that the Department commits to replying to personal correspondence in the format requested, that is Braille, audio, email or large print. For large print, each individual customer will have an optimum type size and will require personal correspondence in their preferred type size.
The Department makes a commitment to providing appropriate facilities for meetings and to ensure that its offices are safe, clean and accessible. NCBI recommends that the term “accessible” is clear and specifically refers to people with both physical and sensory disabilities, who may require different solutions to the issues they face.
NCBI welcomes the Department’s commitment to make its website (www.dcenr.gov.ie) accessible to all, including customers who are blind or vision impaired. We also commend the Department for its commitment to endeavour to make its information available in formats which meet the requirements of customers with disabilities.
This commitment to making information accessible should ensure that this is available in Braille, audio and email as well as on the Department’s accessible website.
NCBI would like to see the Department’s commitment to using clear simple language in the design of its application forms and information leaflets be extended to also ensure clear print design is adopted. NCBI would be happy to advise the Department further on clear print design principles.
Disability Awareness Training
NCBI recommends that the Departments commits to ensuring that disability awareness training is provided to both frontline and managerial staff in order to encourage a greater understanding of the issues around disability and to promote the development of services that are accessible to all. The aim of disability awareness training is to remove some of the communication, attitudinal and physical barriers that prevent people with sight loss from fully participating in society. NCBI would be pleased to advise the Department in this regard.
Customer Service Charter in Accessible Formats
NCBI recommends that the Charter itself is available in a variety of formats and at the beginning of the Charter is should inform readers about the availability of these formats. For example “This Charter has been produced in 14 point font size and is available in audio, Braille, email and large print upon request on LoCall 1890 44 99 00.”
NCBI would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Department to discuss the impact that this Charter may have on people who are blind or vision impaired.