Cork is not doing enough for blind people

Cork is not doing enough for blind people

Alan McNamidhe at a crossing point at Patrick Street. The audio signals on the traffic crossing points are at a very low setting causing difficulties for the blind and visually impaired. Picture: Larry Cummins

CORK is years behind Dublin in terms of accessibility, according to a blind man who recently had to reveal his private banking pin at the dentist as he could not use a modern touchscreen Visa machine which was not blind user-friendly.

Mr McNamidhe said that new touchscreen Visa machines are impossible for him to use and on a recent trip to the dentist he had to give out his private pin to pay for services with his card.

This is one of a number of issues Alan McNamidhe has encountered due to his disability while living in Cork.

According to Mr McNamidhe, the city is cumbersome, difficult and dangerous to navigate as a blind person.

Mr McNamidhe, a Navan man who has been living in Cork for the past 10 years has hit out at the city, saying it is years behind Dublin in terms of accessibility.

Mr McNamidhe said there are a number of handy features that are available in other cities, such as Dublin, that are not in use in Cork to the detriment of blind people.

Verbal announcements on buses were one thing that Mr McNamidhe said would make his life a lot easier and at the moment are only available on some Bus Eireann transport.

Regional Manager for Bus Eireann Martin Walsh said verbal announcements were available on newer fleets, but also said that it was something they were looking at developing further.

Audio lights, which are the beep beep noises made at pedestrian crossings, are turned down to an extremely low volume across the city making it difficult for blind people to know where the pedestrian crossings are and also when they can cross.

Alan McNamidhe walks in the city centre in Cork. Alan has hit out at the lack of accessibility for blind people in Cork.
Alan McNamidhe walks in the city centre in Cork. Alan has hit out at the lack of accessibility for blind people in Cork.

Another deficient service in Cork, according to Mr McNamidhe, is the fact that there is no talking ATM in the city.

Street furniture on narrow lanes is another unnecessary obstacle for Mr McNamidhe and anyone else who suffers a visual impairment.

The artistic Crossway lamps on Patrick Street that start as two slanted poles and meet each other at head height are extremely complicated for a blind person or a guide dog to get around. As well as this, there is no cinema in Cork with audio description headphones for blind people to watch a movie.

An individual with a visual impairment must travel to Limerick, Waterford or Dublin if they would like to experience a movie.

Mr McNamidhe said he realised he needed some help in getting around and did not expect complete independence.

However, he said he would like a fighting chance at self-sufficiency, something he feels he currently hasn’t got in Cork.

“The city is dangerous to me. I have a number of near misses with cars over the last few weeks. Things have gotten worse since Patrick Street was done up over the summer.

“Since then my independence has been compromised.”

A spokesperson for Cork City Council said the Cork Access Group works to improve the built environment for people with disabilities in Cork.

“The Access Group meets regularly with Cork City Council engineers to ensure the disability perspective is to the forefront in all development work carried out in Cork.”

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