Working for People with Sight Loss

NCBI awards Gerard Byrne Bursary Awards on International Day of People with Disabilities

Gerard Byrne Bursary online ceremony

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, Now in its fourth year, NCBI are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2020 Gerard Byrne Bursary, presented today by Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris TD.

The recipients this year are:

  1. Sean Moyles, 21, from Crossmolina, Co Mayo who is currently in third year studying Sports Science and Exercise Physiology at Athlone Institute of Technology.
  2. Megan Callaghan, 19, from Ballybofey, Co Donegal, who is currently in second year studying Home Economics and Irish teaching at St Angela’s College, Sligo.

Speaking at the virtual presentation Minister Harris said “ensuring equity of access to education is a priority for the Department, and the Gerard Byrne Bursary is especially critical given the low numbers of students with visual impairment and blindness studying in higher education. I commend NCBI for continuing to fund this bursary, which aims to financially support more blind and vision impaired students to cover living and education costs, and ultimately give them greater opportunity to achieve their educational goals.”

Across the education sector, people who are blind and vision-impaired make up just 1.8% of students with disabilities and represent the smallest single grouping of students with disabilities studying at third level (AHEAD, 2020). In reviewing the longer-term trends, in the last 10 years, the numbers of students with sensory disabilities has growth at less than half of the rate of students with disabilities more generally (AHEAD, 2020).

Chris White, NCBI CEO said “NCBI are proud to be a part of this years awardees future career journey, and on one level, I am hopeful the bursary will facilitate Sean and Megan to better complete their studies alongside their sighted peers. In Ireland just under 1 in 4 people of working age who are blind or vision impaired are participating in the labour force, and the state and NCBI need to work together to address these worrying trends”.

Since its launch in 2017, the bursary has successfully supported 10 students through their education and into full-time employment. The Gerard Byrne Bursary consists of two annual grants for undergraduate students who are blind or vision impaired studying on a full-time basis at a recognised educational institution in the Republic of Ireland. The value of each scholarship is set at €1,500 per year and continues for the duration of the undergraduate programme chosen by the Bursary winners. NCBI also offer a paid internship opportunity to one Bursary award winner per year.
Minister Harris concluded that “on International Day of People with Disabilities, its brilliant to see that the NCBI Gerard Byrne Bursary continues to support students with visual impairment and blindness to participate and succeed in their chosen studies across higher education. I wish to congratulate Megan and Sean on their outstanding achievements and indeed the NCBI who are working hard to help students with visual impairment, blindness and print disability realise their goals and secure meaningful employment”.
Gerard Byrne Bursary Recipients in a online video call


Contact Katie Drea, Communications Executive, 087 6612287 or at



NCBI is the national sight loss organisation, working for people with sight loss.

We provide practical and emotional support, rehabilitation services and other training designed to help people with sight loss to live independently and confidently.

Services Offered:

  • Emotional support and counselling for people struggling to come to terms with sight loss.
  • Rehabilitation training, including independent living skills and mobility training, which may include using a long cane. Loss of independence is the biggest issue facing people – NCBI gives back independence and builds confidence.
  • Advice and information.
  • Low vision solutions, such as magnifiers and other aids.
  • Assistive technology advice and training to learn how to access all accessibility features in mainstream technology as well as latest gadgets and Apps all designed to assist people living with sight loss.
  • Library – large-print, Braille and audio books – giving back the joy of reading.
  • Employment advice.

As a charity NCBI must raise €3 million annually just to keep operating at current levels that equates to €4 out of every €10 we spend on vital services.