Wednesday 9th September 2020, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) published its 2019 Annual Report outlining an increase of over 500 people using its services countrywide (up from 6,392 in 2018). This increase in demand is due to greater promotion of its services and forging new partnerships with clinicians and stakeholders in the hospital or community setting as well as an aging population where sight loss is more common.
Chris White, NCBI, CEO said “For me, 2019 was a year characterised by striving for innovation and excellence across all aspects of the organisation. It led to the commencement of new initiatives ensuring the organisation continues to modernise and be responsive to emerging needs of people who are blind or vision impaired while still guaranteeing the delivery of our quality enduring services across the country.”
Key 2019 milestones include:
- Transforming the lives of 6,921 people who are blind or vision impaired by offering tailored support, training, stimulation and friendship to ensure they can live their lives independently.
- Commencement of Eye Clinic Liaison Officer services in acute Dublin based hospital settings. This service acts as a bridge between the hospital setting and community services for the patient from the point of diagnosis onwards. In 2019, 736 support sessions were provided across 3 Dublin hospitals – Mater, Eye and Ear Hospital and CHI at Temple Street.
- The development of NCBI Labs investing in technology, systems and people aimed at promoting and upskilling the importance of accessibility across all assistive technology and mainstream technology for the benefit of people who are blind or vision impaired. In 2019, 5,899 individuals benefited from technology training or support from NCBI Labs.
- The merger with Vision Sports Ireland guaranteeing greater availability of sports and leisure services to all those using NCBI services.
- Launch of Bookshare.ie, Ireland’s largest digital accessible library specifically designed to support students with a visual impairment and print disabilities attending higher or further education by providing instantaneous access to over 500,000 academic books and other materials, in the student’s preferred format (DAISY Audio, DAISY with images, digital braille, PDF and Word).
- Expansion of NCBI retail chain with nine new stores bringing the total to 118.
Mr White concluded “These accomplishments were achieved against a backdrop of continued underfunding from the HSE and increased pressure on our shops and fundraising efforts to make up the 30% shortfall in funding required to deliver our essential services. The constant uncertainty and inadequacy of HSE funding coupled now with the pressures of operating in a Covid19 environment means it is very difficult for NCBI to be able to respond to all of our service users.”
For further information, please contact June Tinsley, Head of Communications on 01 8821917 or 087 9955076