Working for People with Sight Loss

History Of NCBI

Introduction

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland, the country’s leading sight loss charity serving the approximate 55,000 people who are blind or vision impaired to live confidently and independently.

Our suite of programmes provides practical and emotional support, rehabilitation and opening pathways to education, employment, and full participation in community and public life. It means raising awareness to ensure children and adults with a significant sight loss have the same opportunities, rights, and choices as anyone else in society.

NCBI works every day across the country with people of all ages, from young babies through to older members of our community. We provide services to approximately 7,000 people each year.

Often when a person learns that they or a loved one – a parent, child or partner – is losing their sight, they have a lot of questions and fears. They are faced with a new version of their life – one that initially seems limited and scary. NCBI empowers those living with sight loss in several meaningful ways to enable them to continue living independent and fulfilling lives. NCBI has a crucial role to play in creating a world without barriers for people with sight loss. We want to support, educate and change how people see sight loss in this country.

Our History

The National Council for the Welfare of the Blind of Ireland was founded on March 10th 1931, in the Standard Hotel, Harcourt Street, Dublin. Not only was it the first voluntary body dealing with a disability group founded in the Irish Free State, it but would set precedents in the provision of welfare and educational advancement for disadvantaged people in Ireland. The principal founder included Alice Stanley Armitage. When founded, services included ‘lady visitor’ home visitor service to poor older blind persons, home teaching service, Braille and Moon and handicrafts and referral to other charities for financial aid.

The change of name to National Council for the Blind of Ireland occurred following the fourth general meeting in April 1935. NCBI has been operating nationwide since its conception in multiple settings. This ranged from NCBI sharing premises with other charities like St. Vincent de Paul or operating from the teacher’s home or the homes of the Branch Chairperson or Secretary; from the parish or church-related venues, or later from the Health Board venues.
In 1987, NCBI moved its Head Office to what was known as the Drumcondra Hospital on Whitworth Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. Since then, this permanent base together with its regional offices across the country ensures that anyone who is blind or vision impaired can have access to quality services, programmes and supports.
Old photo of NCBI building