Public urged to consider difficulties faced by vision impaired

National Council for the Blind of Ireland launching awareness campaign

The NCBI said a particular current difficult was election posters which hang too low on poles. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The NCBI said a particular current difficult was election posters which hang too low on poles. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland has called on the public to be aware of what they place on footpaths and the impact obstacles can have for a person who cannot see them.

The charity is launching an awareness campaign on Monday urging people to consider the difficulties faced by the blind and vision impaired. It includes a video showing the difficulties people with impaired vision face on a daily basis, as they try to navigate their way through towns and cities countrywide.

Obstacles include cars parked on footpaths, bins in the middle of paths, overhanging branches, dog litter and, more recently, election posters – all of which pose huge problems and potential danger for people with impaired sight.

Kevin Kelly, head of policy, advocacy and campaigns with NCBI, said: “Living with impaired vision presents many challenges, but one of the most frustrating and confidence-zapping experiences is running the gauntlet of temporary obstacles placed unwittingly on footpaths by the public.

Courage

“It takes a lot of courage when you are blind or vision impaired to head out with your cane or guide dog and independently attempt to go about your business. For many, it can feel as if you are playing a never-ending game of pinball, but unfortunately, you are the ball crashing about.”

The NCBI said a particular current difficult was election posters which hang too low on poles and which show “a blatant disregard for electoral law and in particular the safety of people with impaired vision”.

Mr Kelly said election posters are required to be a minimum of 2.1m from the ground but the NCBI has seen multiple examples where this requirement is being ignored in the race for votes.

“There is much public discussion around the erection of election posters and how unsightly they look and how environmentally friendly they are; but perhaps another argument in favour of a national ban should be the danger they pose to people with impaired vision,” said Mr Kelly.

The aim of the NCBI campaign is to encourage everyone to play their part and keep footpaths clear of temporary obstacles which have a significant negative impact on the almost 55,000 people living with sight loss in Ireland.

“Simple actions such as cleaning up after their dogs, respecting the traffic laws and not parking on footpaths, taking in their bins after collection and trimming overhanging branches. These are not onerous requests, and the difference they make to someone with sight loss is impossible to quantify,” said Mr Kelly.