VISPA members are working together to cooperate on providing timely and accurate information on services and resources to benefit those who need them. Our VISPA Advocacy Workgroup involving the advocacy managers in each of our members organisations have been working on researching and identifying a number of key issues that affect and impact on the lives of people with sight-loss.
These issues include access to information on benefits and entitlements to public services and facilities. Access to and use of public transport and use of guide dogs on same with public awareness around priority seating. The unregulated or poor planning development of shared spaces within urban areas where pedestrians, including those with disabilities fight for use of street space with motorists, cyclists, buses, trams resulting in accidents, injuries and, unfortunately, deaths.
Within healthcare, there are numerous issues related to lack of funding, insufficient resources in ophthalmology, no funding for the development of the Government’s planned Primary Care Eye Health Teams within Community Health Organisations, as well as getting access to specialised treatments for cataracts, and other eye diseases, where the cost of doing nothing is much greater than taking action.
In early 2020, VISPA will be launching information directed at the new Programme for Government to be developed following the General Election on Feb 8. Our main priority will be focusing on the waiting lists that exist around a variety of services that people with sight-loss need.
Ophthalmology appointments – over 41,000 people are waiting on the NTPF list to see a consultant. There are service users with sight-loss and their families waiting to access much needed services from Childvision, particularly for children who are vision-impaired and have other multiple disabilities. Irish Guide Dogs provide Independent Living Skills to many of their service users and have a backlog of people waiting to receive those pending funding from the State to hire more professionals. Fighting Blindness have a compressive gene-testing programme underway for those who have rare-eye diseases. They want to create a national register that will help individuals and families be able to plan their lives better, and make decisions around their healthcare for themselves and planning any future children. The programme is stalled due to lack of funding and state support would help to complete this vital programme that will benefit hundreds of people and their families.