Wednesday 20th July 2022 NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) is delighted to publish our 2021 Annual Report. Although 2021 was another challenging year due to the effects of the pandemic, NCBI continued to work towards our goal of full inclusion for people who are blind or vision impaired into all aspects of Irish society.
Chris White, NCBI CEO said: ‘2021 was a milestone for NCBI as we celebrated our 90th year. Our longevity and relevance are as important as ever, as can be seen by the huge increase in 2021 in new referrals to our services across the country. In line with our strategic plan Your Ambition Our Mission, the organisation continues to evolve and modernise in response to the various and emerging needs of people who are blind or vision impaired. Whether it was providing emotional or practical support to someone with a recent sight loss diagnosis, facilitating a person to remain in education or employment, providing technology support and advice to maximise their independence or encouraging someone to avail of sports, leisure or peer support groups we were there every step of the way”.
Some key points of note in 2021 for NCBI included:
- The number of referrals to NCBI’s various services and supports increased by 25% in 2021 compared to 2020.
- Additional one-off funding for the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer service was secured to expand the service outside Dublin.
- Raising the standards of digital accessibility by unveiling a new fully accessible NCBI website and delivering technology training online to more service users.
- Continuation and expansion of the Connection Network Programme, with 3,000 calls made between volunteers and people who are blind or vision impaired for weekly catchups in a bid to beat feelings of isolation or loneliness.
- Significant rise in membership to Bookshare, Ireland’s largest digital accessible library, to over 1,000 users, while overall NCBI Library membership grew to 4,950.
- Effective public awareness campaigns to highlight the daily challenges affecting our service users such as Clear Our Paths campaign and Seeing Your Career employment campaign.
- Acquisition of six Age Action stores to join the NCBI Retail network taking the number of stores to 130.
Mr White added “From the lessons learned in the early part of the pandemic, NCBI was able to be flexible and innovative throughout 2021 which is clear from our many successes highlighted throughout our annual report. I want to thank staff and volunteers for their work throughout the year and our service users for their continued dedication and support.”