Officials Must View Impact of Easing Restrictions through Disability Lens

Thursday 14th May 2020, NCBI is calling on the Minister for Health and public health officials to examine closely the effects of easing the current restrictions on the 54,810 people who are blind and vision-impaired and to provide clear guidance to reassure them.

Kevin Kelly, Head of Advocacy, NCBI said “the easing of the lockdown is welcome, however for people who are blind and vision-impaired, it is causing continued concern and raising new questions for many. Obeying social distancing is impossible for people who are blind and vision-impaired, and people who rely on sighted guide are confused as to whether or not they can use this method for getting from A to B.”

“Large volumes of public health advice have been issued during the pandemic to the public about how to stay safe and how to protect others from COVID-19. However, there has been an absence of specific information for groups of people with disabilities, like people who are blind and vision-impaired, whose daily lives have been significantly altered by the advice. This gap is causing grave concern because they, like anyone else, want to play their part in keeping everyone safe yet are afraid their actions may inadvertently put others at risk.”

Mr Kelly concluded “As a priority, the Minister and public health officials need to examine the restrictions through the lens of disability and offer clear and structured advice to this cohort of the population. This exercise should afford people with disabilities and representative organisations the opportunity to feed in their experiences and questions. This guidance should then form part of future government briefings, as the general public need to be made aware of the guidance relating to disability, so they can continue to be helpful and supportive.”