As the introduction of the Euro draws ever closer, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) in conjunction with the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland (ECBI) have completed a nationwide training and awareness programme to ensure that people with visual impairments in Ireland are kept fully informed of the changeover and its consequences.
Patricia Byrne, NCBI Regional Manager and Euro Project Coordinator, says that the aim of the Euro Information Project is to "ensure that visually impaired people do not feel any more concerned about the Euro changeover than anyone else. We want visually impaired people to have the same level of access to Euro information as the general public and we want to give people the opportunity to explore replica notes and coins prior to the introduction of the new currency."
With the support of the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland, the NCBI have produced and distributed two tapes describing how the changeover to Euro notes and coins will take place and its implications for people with visual impairments, as well as containing a full list of Euro information leaflets, posters and material in large print, on tape and in Braille available on request from NCBI. Everyone registered with the NCBI will receive a copy of these tapes.
The NCBI has also organised a Euro Training Day for each county, to which everyone on the register was invited. At these training days, an NCBI Euro Trainer gave a comprehensive talk on the changeover to the Euro, relevant dates and tips to aid easy conversion. A number of visually impaired trainers also attended each Euro day to provide one to one training on the notes and coins, of which NCBI has a limited number of replicas.
"The people who attended the Euro Days were fascinated with the Euro replica notes and coins." says Audrey Tormey, Euro Peer Trainer with NCBI "It was their first opportunity to examine the notes and coins which look and feel identical to the real thing. I give them as long as they need to familiarise themselves and to feel confident about the new notes and coins. The tactile markings on the currency have encouraged people's confidence about identifying them. Generally, we’ve received a very positive response."
An NCBI Euro training day has taken place in each county. The remaining phase, which involves visiting other organisations and groups who deal with visually impaired people, is now underway. The National Council for the Blind of Ireland will distribute a talking Euro converter as well as a Braille notes and coins measurer to everyone on their register later this year. We feel confident that people with visual impairments are well prepared and ready for the Euro changeover.