Wednesday 6th October 2021, Ahead of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters meeting to discuss maximizing participation in political, cultural, community and public life, NCBI outlines in its submission the daily challenges faced by people who are blind and vision impaired preventing their full inclusion and participation.
June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications said “The right to independent living is clearly enshrined within the UNCRPD however, in Ireland, many barriers exist preventing someone with sight loss from full participation in political, cultural, community and public life. These range from inability to vote independently, lack of accessible public transport, lack of audio description for TV, cinema and theatres, inaccessible cultural, heritage and leisure sites and being excluded when decisions are being made about matters that impact on them.”
Regarding making the voting process more inclusive and accessible, NCBI recognizes recent improvements made but highlights challenges with these such as the tactile templates being too unwieldy when a large number of candidates are on the ballot paper. NCBI recommends a range of measures to ensure voters who are blind or vision impaired can exercise their right to vote privately and independently. These include improving the system for postal voting, development of audio or digital voting mechanisms, additional training for polling staff and widespread use of electronic voter registration systems.
In terms of improving engagement and representation in decision making, NCBI urges the Joint Oireachtas Committee to acknowledge, support and facilitate people who are blind or vision impaired to be heard.
Ms Tinsley added “Meaningful engagement with people living with sight loss requires considered and targeted approaches. Those involved must acknowledge that everyone is not on a level playing field and therefore additional supportive measures must be put in place to ensure the entire process and all accompanying materials are accessible.”
NCBI fully supports the participation of Disabled Person’s Organisations in decision making and implementation practices and reiterated that position in the submission.