Reopening society must lead to greater accessibility

blurred image of people enjoying an art exhibition

15th April 2021 As Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) calls for a post-lockdown society that is fully accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired. For too long their full participation has been overlooked.


Chris White, NCBI CEO said “the opening of entertainment and sporting venues, events and cultural sites in the coming months is very welcome after over a year of restrictions. However the inaccessibility of cultural life has been a reality for many people who are blind or vision impaired, before the pandemic began. As restrictions ease, now is an opportunity to ensure that people who are living with sight loss can both access and participate, in Ireland’s rich cultural life.”


Last week NCBI submitted its response to Ireland’s state report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which covers all areas of life including the need for the Government to act on Article 30, to ensure the participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.


Mr White added “When we think about accessibility and disability, it is often through the lens of making the built environment, pathways, etc accessible for those with a physical disability. These are essential, but so too is access for those with a sensory disability. In the area of cultural and sporting spaces and events we have asked the Government to systemically ensure that venues, exhibitions, performances etc are accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired. This includes more Braille, audio and large print descriptions of exhibits, setting nationwide targets for audio description in cinemas, theatres, and sporting events, specialised portable audio-described tours of cultural sites and museums where visual exhibits are present and to support the participation of people living with sight loss in sports. Some initiatives are taking place but it needs to be widespread.”


Participating in arts, leisure, cultural and sporting activities has huge benefits to both the individual and wider society. All persons with a disability have a right to full participation and this should be prioritised and invested in.


To view NCBI’s full response to the UNCRPD visit our policy submissions.



For further information, please contact June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy and Communications on 01 8821917 or 087 9955076.