Blind leading the blind

Travelling through Dublin city centre can be difficult for the daily commuter, especially in the morning. Constant streams of people hustling and bustling through the streets on their way to work, construction workers and drivers create noise and blockage at every corner.

To be constantly vigilant as you navigate your way through the trouves of people is a tiring experience, while also being aware of cyclists and deliveroo workers that seamlessly glide through traffic. Now imagine all of those obstacles, combined with having a faithful guide dog by your side as you’re unable to see.

The Liberties has many roadworks scattered throughout the area, it can be difficult for an elderly person or a visually impaired person to travel around with so much noise surrounding them.

As helpful as guide dogs are, it is still a challenge for both the dog and the visually impaired person to walk through the city centre. Noise pollution is a large wall that is hard to get over: streams of motors running, horns honking, and constant construction is an overwhelming experience for both parties involved.

The Central Statistics Office census 2016 revealed that over 54,000 people in Ireland have some form of vision impairment, that is 1.2% of the population. What has been done to help people with vision impairment in such a loud city? Vision-impairment-friendly traffic crossings, that can be hard to hear, and although guide dogs are professionally and rigorously trained to cope and deal with traffic and loud noises, what if a blind person had nothing but their white cane? Would a good Samaritan politely tell the blind person it is time to cross?

The Irish Times posted a video showing the daily commute of a blind person in the city centre and there was no blind friendly crossing to signal its time to cross, but one woman did tell the blind person. Just over 40% of the visually impaired population in Ireland are afraid to leave their house alone to go about their daily tasks. It is a larger challenge for them. It can be incredibly dangerous crossing the street, and they might not even know they’re coming up to a crossing let alone know when to cross.

The vision impairment friendly traffic crossing is a start, however small. The volume must be increased to contest with the loud noises. It is up to the government, and us as a society, to treat the visually impaired with the decency they deserve. Seemingly easy mundane tasks that we do like walking down the street in the morning, (as stressful as that may be) can be a difficult enough challenge for a blind person.



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