NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) has launched its annual Clear Our Paths campaign aimed at creating a safer and cleaner environment on our streets for people who are blind or vision impaired to get around independently.
June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications said “This campaign is aimed at informing and educating people on the impact that temporary obstacles and shared spaces have on people who have sight loss. Everyday obstacles such as cars parked on footpaths, dog fouling, overhanging branches, wheelie bins etc., can obstruct or injure someone who is blind or vision impaired as they try to navigate past safely. We are encouraging people to be mindful of these obstacles and remove them to ensure our footpaths are safe and clean.”
As part of this campaign, NCBI has created a webpage aimed at supporting members of the public to have conversations with family members and friends about the importance of their own behaviour. We can all be active bystanders through our own actions and words and NCBI is asking people to start a positive conversation to encourage others to make sure our footpaths are clear and safe for everyone in our community.
Temporary obstacles are things that can be removed or prevented with ease which would create a safer environment for people who are blind or vision impaired. This also applies to other pedestrians such as wheelchair users, parents with prams or those with other access needs
Based on figures supplied by 22 of the 31 Local Authorities, very few fines have been issued for dog fouling, as permitted under Section 22 of The Litter Pollution Act. In 2021, eleven local authorities had issued 0 fines for dog fouling. Interestingly, Kerry County Council had dramatically increased fines issued between 2020 and 2021. No fines were issued in 2020, jumping to 31 fines issued in 2021. While Kerry County Council is an outlier with such a large increase, the vast majority of Councils have issued very few or no fines in 2021 which may highlight a lack of enforcement but also indicates the threat of receiving a fine is not a strong enough deterrent to encourage pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
Summer 2022 continues to see changes to our outdoor spaces. Many urban areas have become pedestrianised and plenty outdoor furniture to facilitate outdoor dining is available. These changes to the streetscapes have caused concern among some people who are blind or vision impaired as furniture is not adequately cordoned off or the new layout of previously familiar streets is disorientating.
NCBI’s #ClearOurPaths campaign will run across social media until August 19th, highlighting the different obstacles each day. They encourage others to join them by sharing on their social media channels too. Together, we can garner a greater understanding among the public about the needs of people with sight loss and how these temporary obstacles can impact their daily lives.
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