Posted by in News.

PEOPLE in Galway are being urged to keep footpaths clear to ensure safe access for people with sight loss.

The National Council for the Blind have launched a Clear Footpaths campaign and is urging the people of Galway to keep footpaths clear for people who are blind or vision impaired.

There are many obstacles which people with sight loss face daily, such as cars parked on footpaths, bins, overhanging branches, sandwich boards, street furniture, dog litter and bicycles tied to poles.

Elaine Howley, Director of Policy and Advocacy with NCBI says: “There are lots of things that people can do to make a difference to ensure safe access for people with sight loss.

“They can clean up after their dogs, they can respect the traffic laws and not park on footpaths, they can take in their bins after collection, they can trim overhanging branches.

“Little changes can make a big difference to people who have impaired vision.  People who are blind have an equal right to clear access. People need to feel safe.”

Ms Howley said their aim was to raise public awareness of the impact that obstacles on footpaths have on the everyday lives of people who are blind or vision impaired.

“The obstacles we are focusing on for this part of the campaign are temporary obstacles that can be either removed or not put there in the first place, if people just stop and think,”

Marian Nolan from Galway was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 12 and has never known full sight.  She relies on some peripheral vision but as she has gotten older that has decreased.

“The mobility skills I learned with the NCBI have stood to me.  I have always kept my long cane skills and I am so glad I did.  I can use them everywhere and I feel totally at ease and in control.”

Marian has been faced with the difficulty of obstacles on paths in Galway and she points out: “Cars on paths are ridiculous; pavements in Galway are bad, especially when using a cane.

“Footpaths are also a nightmare with loose tiles along with bicycles and vehicle on paths.  The public never stop to think that they are putting people in danger”.

The NCBI are encouraging everyone to join the movement by uploading photos or video footage on social media of obstacles they come across on the street with the hastag #ClearOurPaths.